altNortheast of Trg bana Jelačića, the filigree spires of Zagreb's cathedral mark the edge of the district known as KAPTOL, home to the city's Catholic institutions and still patrolled by pious citizens and nuns of various orders. The area consists of little more than one long street - initially called Kaptol, later becoming Nova ves in its northern reaches - and the cathedral itself, at its southern end, is the district's only arresting feature. Ringed by the ivy-cloaked turrets of the eighteenth-century Archbishop's Palace ("a southern Kremlin", fancied the archeologist Arthur Evans), the cathedral is almost wholly neo-Gothic, having been rebuilt by Viennese architects Friedrich von Schmidt and Hermann Bolle after a catastrophic earthquake in 1880. Most of the money and creative endeavour was invested in the two spires - the big architectural statement it was felt a growing city like Zagreb needed.The interior is high and bare - only four Renaissance choir stalls from the early sixteenth century and the faded remains of some medieval frescoes survive from before the earthquake.The modest main altar, bearing a copy of the statue of the Madonna and Child in the church at Maria Bistrica, stands in front of a glass casket holding an effigy of Archbishop Alojzije, head of the Croatian Church during World War II and imprisoned by the communists immediately afterwards. Stepinac's grave, near the altar on the north wall of the church, is marked by a touching relief by Ivan Mestrović in which the archbishop kneels humbly before Christ. There's another statue by Fernkorn in front of the cathedral of a richly gilded Madonna surrounded by four angels, which provides a beckoning sparkle as you approach Kaptol from the south.

Descending east from the cathedral to Vlaška and turning left brings you to Ribnjak, a small, shady park situated on the site of a former fishpond, and overshadowed on one side by the crumbling remains of Kaptol's erstwhile fortifications. One of the city's most charming open spaces, the park was reserved for Kaptol's priests until 1947, when the railings surrounding it were demolished by the same communist activists who put paid to the statue of  Jelačić on Trg bana Jelačića.


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