Let’s go to Sljeme!, as citizens of Zagreb say, having in mind going to any part of Mount Medvednica, even though Sljeme is just the name of its peak. The peak itself isn’t as impressive as those in the Alps; instead, it is hidden in the woods, somewhere in the middle of a steep mountain ridge.
The citizens were able to enjoy the view from Sljeme for the first time in 1870, when the forest on its top was completely cut down. The same year, a German surveyor Nitzl brought two Zagreb salesmen, Lovrenčić and Meško, to Sljeme. They loved the view from the mountain so much that they decided to build a solid wooden pyramid on its top. Although just 4 meters high, the small pyramid was the first construction in the history of Croatian hiking!
As the forest grew, so did the pyramid: in 1877, a new, 8- meter-high wooden structure was erected, and in 1889 it was replaced by a 12-meter-high iron observation tower. When the first iron TV tower on Sljeme was constructed in 1960, the pyramid became unnecessary and was relocated to Japetić, a peak in Samobor hills, where it still welcomes hikers. However, visitors at Sljeme did not enjoy the new observation tower for very long: in 1973 a new TV tower was constructed and the old one was closed for public. The new tower was supposed to be a paradise for visitors who wanted to enjoy distant views, with an elevator that would take them 81 meters up to an open observation deck or to a café on a lower level, offering a 360-degree panoramic view. There were even plans for a fine dining restaurant with a rotating platform, but it was never built. Unfortunately, the tower was open for visitors for only two years. Later on, the visitors had to be satisfied “just” with the view of Zagorje from the sightseeing spot on the top of the mountain. The terrace at the sightseeing spot is located right above the ski slopes, yet another must-see attraction on Mount Medvednica. Generations of citizens of Zargeb started skiing at these slopes, including Janica and Ivica Kostelić, siblings who made Croatian skiing famous and brought two great World Cup alpine ski races to Mt. Medvednica. The lesser known fact is that the first slalom race at Mt. Medvednica was held back in March of 1932, while the downhill race took place just a year later. The great Ingemar Stenmark also competed on the slopes of Sljeme, in the 1986 Golden Bear race. He was the fourth in the first run, but he didn’t finish the second one.
Photos: PP Medvednica