Untold Stories

5 special treats of Novi Zagreb

As promised in the previous article, we are staying on the south bank of river Sava for yet another post about Novi Zagreb area. The recent article was about the must-sees, and now is the time for my choice of special treats that you might like to visit.

Kajzerica pyramide - the border between the empires

The small pedestrian bridge makes the best way to cross the river and enter the Novi Zagreb area on foot or by bike. Other bridges are busy with traffic. The pedestrian bridge in the area, known as Savski most (Sava bridge), allows you to stop to enjoy the mighty river Sava flowing below. It also serves as a lovely viewpoint. For example, the view of the picturesque old railway bridge from the header photo might capture your attention for a while. 

Once you cross the bridge, you will be in the Kajzerica neighborhood. The creation of Novi Zagreb was an impressive example of city planning. At the time, new parts needed names. A popular Croatian poet was in charge of it, and he created names that make sense. These are some examples: Travno (trava is grass), Trnsko (trn is thorn), Siget (siget is an island in Hungarian)... they all paint a picture of how did the area look like before the thorny bushes and meadows were replaced by the modern city. 

What about the neighborhood of Kajzerica? Kajzer comes from German and stands for Emperor. Since Croatia was a part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, most will guess that it was the Austrian emperor. Guess again! The Kajzer of Novi Zagreb was Napoleon. 

When you cross the bridge and step into Novi Zagreb, you will find a monument with some words in French. It’s a memory of the times when a part of Croatia was under French governance as the so-called Illyrian Provinces. It was such a short period, but the border was right here, at the south bank of the river Sava. They even say that the little house next to it used to serve as the customs office. What a reminder of this country’s vivid history right here in Novi Zagreb!

The sign on the monument says: Border of Illiryan Provinces of the Napoleon era. 1809 - 1813.


Park of the Newlyweds - the name says it all

Only when you walk deeper into the Novi Zagreb area, you are going to realize just how much green there is everywhere. The walks are longer than you might expect for the sake of the green surfaces. Overall, it makes a pleasant place to live in. There is even a park that doesn't try to hide Novi Zagreb's best-kept-secret: this part was always meant to make life humane. It adds some poetry to everyday life with its story and its name. I'm talking about Park mladenaca (Park of the Newlyweds). The park grew out of romantic love. When a couple got married, they chose their tree, and planted it in the park. Thousands of trees represent thousands of new beginnings. As you walk in the deep shade of this park, you are surrounded by promises of eternal love. 

Brodarski - off the limits, yet knows no limits

One of the most special places in Novi Zagreb remains hidden in plain sight. You could pass by a tall fence, and behind that fence, there is an arboretum. Another huge green area, but you got used to that by know.  

Because of all the greenery, you can’t see what’s inside the complex. If you do stop for a second to get a better look of what's hiding in there, you might spot some unexpected details. There's a yellow torpedo, a ship maquette. And what’s that round building for? 

The street names around the complex could serve as a hint: the alley of sailors, a square dedicated to heroic Croatian pirates, a street named after a historical sailor Ivan Visina, another one named after the Croatian ship-building pioneer Leopold Sorta... All of them are trying to tell you - the complex hides the shipbuilding institute. 

The big round building is a pool used for testing boats. Incredible hi-tech from the ‘50s.

Yes, right here, far away from the Croatian coast, there is an institute that can construct boats, and it even has testing pools! So surreal! I just can't cease to be fascinated by this. 

Invisible when you walk past it. Luckily, nothing can stay hidden from Google Maps, not even the long and the round testing pools.


Dugave - architectural utopia

Novi Zagreb carries a huge signature of a carefully planned part of the town. Carefully, and sometimes quite imaginatively. A special mention goes to the neighborhood of Dugave. Architecturally speaking, it is the most unique one of Novi Zagreb for its rounded shape and seemingly spiraling roads.

Many architects and construction workers who built Dugave, stayed to live there. How about that for a reccommendation? One of the architects, Ivan Čizmek, was familiar with the Parigian philosophies that promoted human-scale massive housing. He was also connected with progressive artistic movements of the era. Indeed, Dugave is the utopia of Novi Zagreb. It's among the neighborhoods with the strongest feeling of neighborhood comunity. It is separated from other neighborhoods by the roads that embrace it, plus you will always recognise "the outsiders" - they're the ones who get lost. 

It’s good to live in Dugave, and you will know this as soon as you enter the neighborhood. The only problem is, you won’t be able to get out. It’s impossible not to get lost in Dugave if you don't live there. 

Don’t forget the markets!

Do you care for a genuine retro experience, you need to visit the markets. There is absolutely nothing artificial about them - it’s the seventies & the eighties right where the rest of the world has left them. 

If you decide to explore Novi Zagreb on a Sunday, start in the morning with Hrelić, the flea market. Oh, the things people sell there, the treasures you can find! From total garbage (to be utterly honest) to valuable antiques. So many trendy places in Zagreb would never look that good if it wasn’t for the interior design based on Hrelić-catches. 

Don’t underestimate the food markets either. I adore the Utrina market. Dolac market in the city center is colourful and quite an experience. But Utrina is the real deal. It’s one of the best markets in the city. If you visit, don’t forget to experience the surrounding bars and shops. It’s a world on its own that will dragg you straight back to the long-lost time. I am especially fond of a small shop at the market that looks like from a movie set - wooden shelves, mainly Croatian products, you need to ask for some products behind the counter... Such a gem!

Colours and vibes of Utrina market

I hope the articles about Novi Zagreb will inspire you to get to know the city better. 

If you would like to visit Novi Zagreb, but are still not sure whether it will be simple enough to get around on your own, fear not! Local tour companies come to the rescue. The most efficient way to cover the large surfaces of Novi Zagreb is by bike. 

Blue Bike has a long tradition of taking curious visitors across the river Sava. If you prefer to walk, The Real City tram’n’walk tour by Secret Zagreb shows you the best of Novi Zagreb. 

Happy exploring!

Part of the flea market’s treasure cove

Author: Iva Silla