A warm day in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, you get lost in a riot of colours. You could notice colourful wooden dolls but the thing that will fascinate you more is bleeding red hearts that surround you in various shapes and sizes. The city also has bustling Dolac Market , one of the oldest farmer markets in the city. Despite the souvenir stalls the city also has traditional open market. Besides the souvenir stalls, the traditional open market, with a shelter below, sells everything from fruits and vegetables to fish and flowers. One of the women in the stalls tells me that the bleeding red hearts are the symbols of Zagreb, touted as the City of Love.
Gifts in romance
The wooden hearts referred to as Licitar will surely take down the medieval ages. “Traditionally, they were gifts of love,” says a guide Hela Markanović, as
we walk towards the Kapitol, where Zagreb’s Gothic Cathedral with its famous kissing spots stands. Markanović adds that Licitar were actually gingerbread cakes or biscuits made with flour, honey and eggs and given as gifts during weddings. The tradition of gifting a Licitar can be traced to a ballet composed by a renowned Croatian composer titled ‘Licitarsko srce’ or the ‘Gingerbread Heart’. “The boy used to give a gingerbread heart to his dancing partner with hidden romantic messages inside them,” she says. Pottering around Zagreb, I see red hearts everywhere. When you find a love seat in red, you can sip coffee. Zagreb is divided into two parts — the Lower Town or Donji Grad and the Upper Town or Gornji Grad. The former is a montage of monuments from the era of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, while the latter is a charming blend of romantic churches and quirky museums.