Gradec (or more colloquially “Grič”) is the oldest and most atmospheric part of Zagreb, a leafy, tranquil area of tiny streets, small squares and Baroque palaces, whose mottled brown roofs peek out from the hill. The most leisurely approach is to take the funicular (uspinjača), which ascends from Tomićeva, an alleyway about 200m west of Trg bana Jelačića; alternatively, wander up the gentle gradient of Radićeva towards the Kamenita vrata, or “stone gate”, which originally formed the main eastern entrance to the town. Inside Kamenita vrata – actually more of a long curving tunnel than a gate – lies one of Zagreb’s most popular shrines, a simple sixteenth-century statue of the Virgin in a grille-covered niche. Miraculous powers have been attributed to the statue, largely on account of its surviving a fire in 1731 – a couple of benches inside the gate accommodate passing city folk eager to offer a quick prayer.
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