For an Architect, travelling is food for their soul. It helps in widening their perspective when one soaks in the rich culture, history, buildings, and lifestyle of a place. The red-painted city of Zagreb, capital of Croatia and its largest city, is nicknamed as “city of museums”, is a perfect getaway for art lovers to indulge in the vibrancy of 18th and 19th-century classic Austro-Hungarian architecture, spectacular museums, and ancient churches. 

Situated on the cusp of central and western Europe, straddling historical and modern, Zagreb is full of stories to be unravelled. 

Here is a list containing the places architects must visit when in Zagreb.

Places to visit in Zagreb for the Travelling Architect
Zagreb city ©zagreb360.hr

1. Zagreb Cathedral

Like all-pervading energy, twin cathedral spires 108metres high looms over the entire old city and prominently dominates the skyline. The cathedral acquired its Neo-gothic style in the 18th century, redesigned and reconstructed by celebrated Austrian architect Hermann Bollé after it was damaged in a massive earthquake in 1880. 

Its interior is adorned with slender cross ribbed arches within three polygonal apses with narrow and oldest stained-glass windows of Croatia. 

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2. Saint Mark’s Church

With hard-to-miss features like the colorful tiled roof and elaborately constructed southern gothic portal, beckons people to this 13th-century old church. It has been remodeled and reconstructed many times, hence acquiring different styles evident in its Romanesque windows, baroque copper-covered belltower, and one-of-a-kind gothic portals. 

Inside are marked by round columns supported heavily ribbed vaults cut in stone along with hand-painted walls by Croatian artist Jozo Kljaković.

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3. Croatian National Theatre

The monumental Neo-Baroque building, designed by Viennese Architects – Ferdinand Fellner & Hermann Helmer and opened by Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1895 ensembles three activities that is theatre, opera, and ballet. 

The scarlet-gold auditorium holds the capacity of 800 people and the overall interiors reflect the same grandness and richness with ornamented columns, frescoed ceilings.

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4. Croatian State Archives

The splendid piece of Art Nouveau building, built-in 1913 holds Croatia’s most important documents. Designed by Zagreb-born architect Rudolf Lubynski. The building sits in a symmetrical planned landscape that blends well with the urban plan called “green horseshoe”. 

The building is said to be a beautiful combination of Viennese secession and modern European Architecture.

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5. Ban Jelacic Square

The paved piazza dating back to 1641 at the center of downtown is considered the heartthrob of the city. It is named after a military leader Ban Josip Jelačić whose statue was erected in 1866. It is surrounded by an elegant, regal display of a blend of Biedermeier, art nouveau, and post-modernist style architecture. 

The vast square being the most famous meeting point is lined with a fountain, tram, bars, and several cafes all the time bustling with life and energy.

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6. The Zagreb Funicular

One cannot and should not miss the delight to travel in the world’s shortest and steepest funiculars, with a track length of mere 66 meters. It has two cars carrying 16 passengers each. It connects the lower and upper town of Zagreb’s old city since 1890. 

With its brimming old-world charm and unique entertainment, it’s deservedly protected as a monument of culture by Zagreb’s authority

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7. Medvedgrad Castle

The 1000 meters hike to reach the Medvednica castle, surrounded by dense forest provides breathtaking views of the city of Zagreb. The 800 years old medieval castle was built in 1242 and now serves as a memorial to the Croatian War of Independence. 

Along with the castle, the whole Mount Medvednica helps in providing much-needed respite to the city dwellers with its Nature Park, mountain biking trails, lodges, restaurants as well as numerous annual events.

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8. Mirogoj Cemetery

Touted as one of the largest and the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, Mirogoj Cemetery is also a conglomeration of art, history, and architecture. The resting place of the nobles after death also houses 500-meter-long neo-renaissance arcades with 20 domes cladded with ivy designed again by Hermann Bollé and opened only in 1929. 

The lush cemetery’s winding paths lined with sculptures and beautifully decorated tombs are sure to leave you with peace and tranquillity.

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9. Meštrović Pavilion/House of Croatian Artists

The collonaded rotunda standing in the middle of the square designed by sculptor Ivan Mestrovic is an example of architectural avant-garde. It consists of two galleries spanning across two floors that hold exhibitions of works by famous artists and many concerts. 

The notable feature here is the dome which is made of round glass tiles, cast in a thin concrete shell, allowing natural light to fill the hall.

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10. Ilica Neboder/ Zagreb Eye

Situated in the heart of Zagreb, and providing a 360-degree view of the whole of Zagreb, this modernist, socialist architecture demands a visit being the first bona fide high rise completed in 1959. It became the first tallest building in the country at the time of construction featuring an aluminium façade. 

The observation deck and covered terrace on the 16th floor open out to spectacular panoramas to the rooftops of lower and upper towns, twin-spired cathedral, and beyond.

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11. Arena Zagreb

The award-winning landmark of Zagreb is an indoor multipurpose arena with a 15,000-seat capacity. The rib cage-like structure is formed by 39m tall, eighty-six large curved prestressed, pre-fabricated concrete columns interwoven by illuminant semi-translucent polycarbonate envelopes which also carry suspended steel roof structure. 

The whole of spatial organization and design intervention enabling its usage flexibility makes it a must-visit for any architecture fanatic.

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12. Sava Installation

The project aims at revitalizing the seven kilometers long unhabitable stretch of the Sava river of Zagreb into a space of community interaction and growth. As a solution, nine temporary scaffolding pavilions, interchangeable and highly flexible in terms of activities and seasons are installed along the bridge to maximize usage. 

A visit to such a futuristic initiative can bring outsiders to the very heart of Zagreb’s thriving culture and people.

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13. Zagreb Airport

The airport building with its eclectic architecture, functionality, and engineering forms a pivotal foundation and inspiration for the future development of Zagreb’s metropolitan area. The wavy, undulating roof form imitates the surrounding landscape brings about the feeling of light fabric covering the space. 

One can find themselves immersed in the complex yet intriguing geometry of a doubly curved spatial grid covering the entire interiors of the airport.

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14. Museum of Contemporary Art

The first contemporary museum of the city designed by architect Igor Franić’s can be viewed as simple solid geometry, frantically played in cross-section giving it a dynamic soul. The building houses a permanent art display along with occasional exhibition spaces, a library, a multimedia hall, a bookstore, a cafe, and a restaurant. 

Not having an easily comprehensible spatial geometry and play in circulation provides it a mystifying quality that encourages the curiousness to experience and unravel.

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15. Zagreb Pavilion

This experimental design was born with the desire to bring out the forgotten public spaces, through art in the form of architecture where they try to demonstrate the culmination of vernacular and contemporary construction methods. 

The pavilion designed by njiric + architects is approximately 24ft across and 38ft high and is built using steel framing, with acrylic sidings. Inside is a dome equipped with a video projector used for multimedia exhibitions

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References

Visit Zagreb. (n.d.). Zagreb Top 15 Attractions» Visit and Experience Zagreb. [online] Available at: https://www.visitzagreb.hr/category/top-attractions

www.viator.com. (n.d.). The Top 10 Things To Do & Attractions in Zagreb. [online] Available at: https://www.viator.com/Zagreb/d5391#attraction-item-17954 

Time Out Croatia. (n.d.). Essential Zagreb attractions. [online] Available at: https://www.timeout.com/croatia/things-to-do/zagreb-attractions

ArchDaily. (n.d.). Search. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/search/all?q=zagreb&ad_source=jv-header

Author

Trupti Agrawal is an architect by profession, an artist from the heart. She is an ardent reader and a believer in the power of art, being a great tool in uplifting human consciousness. She strives to tap into intangible aspects of human psychology through her art, which makes her a keen learner and an earnest listener, and a deep observer.

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