Zagreb, capital of Croatia, was first founded in 1094, and itdeveloped initially as three separate cities - Gradec, Kaptol and Donji Grad. These three towns fought each other for years,not unlike the warring parties of the Balkans of today (but perhaps with less barbarity than the Yugoslav successor wars of the early 1990's). Zagrebfirst became Croatia's capital in 1557, and once again becamethe capital with the declaration of independence in 1991. The Croatian Serbs rebelled immediately, with the help of the Yugoslav Federal Army. They had argued that they were never consulted whether they want to live in a Croat state, and that all Serbs should live in a common Serbian state. A brutal6 month-war broke out which led to the bombing of Zagreb, historic Dubrovnik and other major cities, and the occupation of one-thirdof the country by Serbs living in the Krajina region of Croatia.
See the Croatian stamp issued to celebrate the fall of Knin. Note the Croatian flag above the Knin Fortress where King Tomislavonce stayed.
I first read about Croatia in my secondary school days, not longafter the death of Marshal Tito. I have come to admire this remarkableman, a dictator no doubt, but he managed to unite Yugoslavia'sdiverse and warring peoples together under his iron arms. Today,all that he had created has fallen apart. Thousands have died,families split apart, home destroyed, and dreams torn apart. No doubt that each of the South Slav nations now have an internationallyknown identity, this identity had come with a heavy price, asa Croatian girl I met on a train said. And she missed her Serbianand Montenegrin friends, whom she said, might never be in Croatiaagain...
Anyway, the decision to come to Croatia, was, in the opinion of many friends, a reckless one. In fact, the Romanian girl Imet at the train ticketing agency in Vienna thought that I wascrazy. But my desire to visit this country had grown ever sinceI have seen pictures of the beautiful Croatian coast and islands,and of the cities of Dubrovnik and Zadar. And I was tempted tovisit Medjugorje, the pilgrimage site in the Croatian controlledpart of Bosnia (Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosna), and wantedto find out more information about reaching there.
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