Traveloid by Through Zagreb, Croatia

Venture forth with me and see what I see
as we explore the imaginary as we explore the history that shaped today

Zagreb, a stronghold for centuries against the advancing empires from East and South, became a capital among other interplay of circumstances, thanks to cultural institutions that came to life at the most crucial of times. The University, Academy of Arts and Sciences, a philharmonic orchestra, Theatre – all helped Zagreb in shaping it’s dominance, eventually becoming a capital in the second half of the 19th century.

Traveling back to the founding history, there existed settlements during Iron Age, but significant/recorded history started to be written about from the early 11th century under Hungarian rule, when they established control of the ancient town Gradec, while the nearby Kaptol was the center of episcopal buildings, cathedral, with an ecclesiastical community.

As sometimes happens between neighbours, these two were in continuous battles, only separated by the river and the watermills over which they fought. Eventually as various empires were forming in the vicinity and the pressures were mounting from all sides, Ottomans, Hungarians, Hubsburg Monarchy, Venetians, …the tension eventually subsided as they realised they had to fight the common enemy in order to survive.

The Sabor (assembly that resembles today’s parliament) was formed and the two towns merged in the 16th century. As the time passed through the 17th and 18th centuries, Varazdin was taking dominance, the Austrian empire regarding Zagreb as a military outpost. However, a catastrophic fire swept through Varazdin in 1776 and changed the course of history and the tides of power shifted in favor of Zagreb.


Zagreb, Croatia
Date Summer 2017
Exploring history of Zagreb, Gradec, Kaptol, Hungarian,  Ottomans, Habsburg Monarchy, Krapina, Archeological museum, Cathedral, Old stone gate
Connecting art of Mestrovic, infinity, Herman Bolle, Mirogoj cemetery, Renaissance painters, Baroque, Gothic, with neo prefix

Imaginary supersonic bubble is exploring

Charlie and Earling landed in Zagreb in August 2017 and here is the route that you can take with them while Earling is explaining the what, where and how to Charlie who is visiting from another world

Earling: This is somewhat an unlikely float, as we visited most of the Croatian coast, Zagreb was always in the background in terms of mentality. Even though we are not Earthlings, there is something about a collective consciousness that makes us want to fit in and get their views on life if not through communication, then certainly through the design of the city, it’s architecture and the living soul. I want to start this exploratory journey with Kaptol and Gradec.

Let’s go first through our visit to Gradec, a historical core on the hill, accessible by famous funicular or by stairs (I know that you Charlie prefer the ascent by foot). Historically a place of military dominance and center from which strategic decisions were made regarding survival, today’s Gradec gives us an excellent panorama over Zagreb.

Charlie: I find it fascinating that most cities on Earth will make a special viewing point over any escalation, be it natural (hills) or artificial (skyscrapers) to watch over the roofs. Is this not something of a survival psychology left over from life in the mountains? The power of highland against the competitors, animals, and just plain ease of contemplation!

Earling: I am sure that ultimately as they progress technologically, and their Technium becomes much easier to distribute, mimicking of nature will take place large scale. For example a nearby prehistoric site with a fantastic collection dating back 125.000 years, called Krapina, is an example of a museum that wants to merge with nature. But, let’s go back to history of Zagreb as we go through the streets of Gradec, one of the most dominant is certainly St. Mark’s Square with St. Mark’s Church with colourful roof tiles depicting the coat of arms of Zagreb and Croatia. Many governmental buildings are situated in the immediate vicinity, as well as the house of famous artist Ivan Mestrovic.

Charlie: The Museum of Broken Relationships is an interesting concept; as we pass it, I sense a mix of idealism towards conformity and also a dominance play with the observing eye. Maybe Earth had to unite in something close to the experience of being human that is least materialistic.

Earling: Let’s go on towards Kaptol and focus on the spiritual, because that is what they promoted historically through various forms in this part of Zagreb. To reach Kaptol we stroll through the Old Stone Gate which is the oldest surviving building, and at one time the main eastern entrance to Gradec. It houses a famous 16th century icon of the Virgin, honored by believers, sometimes seeking spoken and unspoken wishes which is why people light many candles here.

Charlie: People enjoy symbolism and rituals, no wonder that a statue that survived the fire intact becomes special and thus an object for wish fulfillment.

Earling: As we pass many Baroque buildings, and bohemian vibe streets, we are finally in Kaptol, dominated by the famous Zagreb cathedral. The original cathedral dates back to early 13th century but the one in present form was built in the early 20th century in Neo-Gothic style by Viennese architects Herman Bolle and Friedrich von Schmidt after a devastating earthquake.

Charlie: The two spires are certainly impressive, a crowning of a growing city in hope that spiritual values, being true values will dominate all the others.

Earling: So many places to fly to and so little time, let’s go quickly through the main square called Square of Ban Jelacic. Originally it was known as a market place, collection point for local taxes, it changed many names and identities from Habsburg through Yugoslavian times. Viennese sculptor Fernkorn created a statue in 1866 of Ban Josip Jelacic, and it was positioned to face East symbolizing the direction of those then considered by Croats their enemies – Hungarians. Now it is facing South, possibly indicating the latest conflict with countries of former Yugoslavia.

Charlie: I really want to see more of history in here, that is why we are here, because this was the crossroads of numerous empires, tribes and individuals. Let’s explore those.

Earling: Wish granted through visiting Archaeological Museum that houses more than 450.000 pieces. Organized efforts towards systematic archaeological excavations through Croatian regions go back to 1880s, and the museum itself contains some of the most impressive in South East Europe, including Egyptian (the only one in the region), Greek, Roman, Prehistoric, Medieval and impressive Numismatic Collections which is one of the largest in Europe.

Charlie: As someone said in the live stream above, it is worth visiting this city if only to see the Archaeological Museum of Zagreb, a truly impressive collection and an insight into the past.

Earling: Now we are at the Art Pavilion that houses art exhibitions, a visionary result of the Austrian architect duo Fellner and Helmer, the building’s exterior also holds sculptures of three Renaissance painters of Croatian origins, Giulio Clovio, Andrea Schiavone, Vittore Carpaccio and the western facade has busts of the three masters Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian.

Let’s explore this vision further on the following live streaming link with the walk around the Pavilion as well as the square of King Tomislav, the sculpture that greets new arrivals from the train station that faces it.

Charlie: It is an interesting combination to combine the military leadership of one ancient century with artistic vision that starts with Renaissance.

Earling: Last but not least, we have in front of us the National Theatre of Zagreb and Ivan Mestrovic’s master piece: Well of Life that brings in one place several phases of life that twists around the eternal energy that life is. Made in 1905, it is a testament to life’s eternal change and philosophy that the Mestrovic captured in this work..

As we lost ourselves in the work of Ivan Mestrovic, another building is fading out of the background and this is the Croatian National Theatre, a project again done by Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, a Neo Baroque architectural master piece.

Charlie: The style, thinking and striving of Zagreb seems to be inspired by the Renaissance, Baroque, Gothic,…. and many others in style. Perhaps it is not surprising that, resonating with glorious aspects of European history they also served as an inspiration for re-purposing, most of the building being completed in later periods, with a neo prefix.

Earling: The famous Mirogoj Cemetery, again the vision of Austrian architect Herman Bolle, built in late 19th century, presents one of the most impressive sites to visit in Zagreb.

Take a look at this short live stream from the place in August 2017

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