The green haven of Zagreb
Irrespective of where you are in Zagreb, which street you are passing, you can never lose sight of Zagreb’s favourite fellow citizen and friend – mountain Medvednica. Medvednica watches over the Croatian capital from the north and it is the first one to welcome its guests, the first one to adorn itself in autumn colours and the first one to become snow-white in winter. Those that have not yet visited Medvednica cannot even fathom what this seemingly ordinary hill hides – it has its own churches, mines, caves, bunkers, pyramids, stairways and graves. Where? You just have to explore Medvednica – everything is right where it should be.
Medvednica stretches from the southwest to the northeast like a long spine whose ribs are large and dense woods. Deep among these ribs, forested valleys shelter numerous murmuring streams lowering towards Zagreb in the south and Hrvatsko Zagorje in the north. It is well-known that it was formed after a ground uplift and therefore its slopes are rather steep (especially the one facing Zagorje) and its foot accommodates thermal springs such as Stubičke spa, springs in Sutinsko, one near Dubravica in Gornji Stenjevec and in the Ribnjak Park in Zagreb.
The highest peak of Medvednica is Sljeme. It is 1033 meters high and has a television tower and a viewpoint facing Zagorje. Sljeme is also the most popular destination on Medvednica so many people perceive Medvednica and Sljeme as synonyms. Medvednica's name (medvjed means bear in Croatian) but also the findings of bear bones in Veternica (a cave situated on the western side of the mountain) suggest that this used to be a bears' habitat. It is interesting that the underground channels of Veternica are more than 7 kilometres long, making the cave one of the longest in Croatia. Fortresses built in the middle ages on Medvednica's prominent peaks hold a special place in its history. Two cities are situated on the outer edges of Medvednica: Susedgrad on the western edge and Zelingrad on the eastern edge, while old Medvedgrad situated in the centre of the mountain is the real eye-catcher.
Due to its proximity to the city, Medvednica has been a very popular excursion and hiking destination for more than hundred years. Today, there are several dozens of catering facilities and mountain lodges on Medvednica. There are well-marked walking trails leading to all of these, as well as to other destinations. The most popular climbs are the one that begins at the last tram station in Gračani (Dolje) and that leads through a tunnel to Hunjka and Puntijarka, or the one that starts at the penultimate tram station and that follows the beautiful Leustek trail across Adolfovac towards Sljeme. There are around seventy more trails on Medvednica, which differ in their length and climbing difficulty.
Venture out towards Medvednica – on foot or by car – and take a look at Zagreb from high above, take a deep breath of Medvednica's clear forest air, ski down the slopes and enjoy. If you do that, the mountain will award you with beautiful scenery and an unforgettable experience.