History of Zagreb

The history of Zagreb stretches as far back as 1094. At that time, two Hungarian settlements in the area emerged: Kaptol and Gradec. In 1242, both settlements were destroyed by the Mongols. Rebuilt, Kaptol and Gradec underwent a period of bitter rivalry but were finally united – somewhat unwillingly – against an advance by the Turks.

History of Zagreb

The name Zagreb first emerged in the 16th century to describe the two settlements. At the same time, the Sabor (the Croatian parliament) was also first established. It was in 1557 that Zagreb was first mentioned as a capital; in 1621 the city was picked to become the seat of the Croatian viceroys.

Due to misfortune in the 17th and 18th centuries down to (amongst other things) plague and fire, the parliament was moved to Varazdin. But in the 19th century, Zagreb once again rose to prominence. A number of buildings and institutions of cultural significance were built, including the University in 1874 and the National Theatre in 1890. Railway lines were also constructed – prompting significant expansion in the Donji Grad (Lower Town) part of the city – and gasworks and waterworks were also built around this time.

20th Century History of Zagreb and Yugoslavia

In the early part of the 20th century, Zagreb grew even more quickly. A number of residential neighbourhoods emerged and expanded, which saw the population of Zagreb increase by 70% during the 1920s. The city grew further after World War II when areas such as Novi Zagreb (literally ‘New Zagreb’) were created. An industrial area was also established in 1949 and Zagreb’s Pleso Airport (today called Franjo Tudjman Airport) opened in 1962.

During the times of former Yugoslavia, Zagreb was an important city in the country. By population, it was the second largest in Yugoslavia (behind Belgrade) and was considered the economic centre of the country.

The city hosted a few events of international importance in the 1980s and very early 1990s – the World University Games (called Univerzijada in Croatian) in 1987 and the Eurovision Song Contest in 1990.

In 1991, when Croatia declared independence, the city became the capital of Croatia. Although it was shelled a few times during the resulting war, the city emerged relatively unscathed and there’s no lingering evidence.

Zagreb Today

These days, Zagreb is a bustling city with many sights, museums and galleries, shops, bars and restaurants. Not to forget the all-important “cafe society”! Zagreb is home to many a cafe, every one of which almost always seems to be entirely full of locals.

The city is well worth a visit, whether on a city break or as part of a longer holiday combined with Croatia’s coastal delights.

History of Zageb: the legend of the name Zagreb and Mandusevac Fountain

The legend behind the name Zagreb says that a weary passing knight struck his sword into the dry ground to reveal water rushing from the crack that was made. The knight called to a local girl called Magdalena (or Manda for short) and said “Mando, duso, zagrabi vode” (“Manda, dear, grab me some water“). The word zagrabi (grab) is where the name Zagreb is believed to have come from.

The knight’s words also provided the name of Mandusevac spring by combining the words Manda and duso to make Mandusevac. Mandusevac spring has long been an important water source for settlements in the area up to more recent times. The spring was covered up during a renovation of the main square in 1898 but was then revealed again during another renovation in 1980. These days Mandusevac Fountain can easily be visited in Trg Ban Jelacic.