Doors of the Lower Town
Untold Stories

Doors of the Lower Town

Every time we pass through a physical door, something unknown is bound to happen. Doors can be symbolic, intriguing, or simply eye-capturing. Let us wander the streets of Zagreb, and search for some pretty entrances. Just like we did in the previous years, remember?

At the beginning of last year, we checked out the doors of Kaptol. The year before, we spotted the doors of the Upper Town together. This year, it’s time to explore the Lower Town area.

Lower Town is a part of the Zagreb city center. More people live and work here than in Kaptol or the Upper Town. That makes the doors from this article a bit closer, more real, even rougher. The doors I am about to show you might not be the most gorgeous doors in the neighborhood, but they are the ones that caught my attention on a cold February day. I hope they will inspire you to take a long walk through the streets and squares of the Lower Town on a quest to find your favorite details.

Mažuranić square 8

We are starting at one of my favorite corners in the city - a line of houses on the east side of Mažuranić square. Judging by this exquisite fanlight above the entrance of a 110-year-old building, just wait till you come here in person to get a full look! The curious house covered in ivy carries the signature of architect Dionis Sunko. You might have noticed some of his other works around Zagreb, such as hotels Esplanade and Dubrovnik.

Side door, National State Archives

Our path takes us to the nearby Marulić square. The main feature of the square is one of the greatest architecture gems in Zagreb - the building of the Croatian National State Archives. The lovely side door with some art-nouveau curves from the photo above is only a teaser for the sight of the entire building.

If you like art nouveau, you will love this part of the city. Zagreb is not as prone to boasting as other big cities within the former Habsburg empire. You won’t find many buildings with lavish art nouveau features. However, there will be a lot of subtle discoveries in the shape of curvy lines, floral decorations, elaborated balconies, bas-reliefs, and more...

Marulić square 7


Haulikova 3

Let’s head towards the East end of the Lower Town - a line of parks from the late 1800s with some of the most impressive and curious architecture. On our way, I have to turn to Gajeva street, only to show you the door with the angelic guard. As the sign left to the entrance shows, the building was constructed by the architectural studio Hönigsberg & Deutsch. Their signature: recreating historic styles throughout the city center.

Gajeva 51

Many agree that the most beautiful, not-to-be-missed part of Lower town is the east part of the so-called Green Horshoe. Zagreb Green Horseshoe is a U-shaped line of parks and squares that works as a frame of the Lower Town area. It was designed by Milan Lenuci and is considered to be an important example of urban planning. By 1850s, Zagreb was still mainly limited to its medieval core. However, the fast development of 19th century Zagreb brought a lot of new residents to the city. Thanks to careful planning, a whole new town - the Lower Town - emerged out of the cornfields, wrapped into this horseshoe-shaped line of parks, ready to become home to thousands of people.

Milan Lenuci even designed and built a home for himself at one of the beautiful squares of the Horseshoe - the Strossmayer square. This is the door to his own building:

Strossmayer square 11 - Lenuci’s home

Some of the most prominent buildings are the ones at street corners, facing the squares with their wide gates. These days, some of them are public institutions. Originally, they were built as exclusive residential houses. One such example is the National Museum of Modern Art. It is nested in what used to be just a residential building owned by Mr. Vraniczany, one of the wealthiest Zagrebers of the 1880s.

Hebrangova 1 - National Museum of Modern Art

Just before the end of this photo walk, I want to show you some details around the entrance to one of my favorite houses at King Tomislav square near the train station. Feller family owned some extraordinary buildings around the town, including the first (and still one of the only ones) two-story building with an actual elevator. The family sure knew how to show off their wealth, so it would be unimaginable for them not to have a house around the parks of the Green Horshoe. And what a house it is! The architectural duo Hönigsberg & Deutsch (we met them at the house with angels from Gajeva street) found inspiration in the historic Gothic style, added a touch of art nouveau, mixed a bunch of animals and all sorts of symbolic creatures in, and voilà! There you have it! Completely non-invasive at first glance, but once you start observing it, house Feller keeps enchanting you with its fantastic details.  

King Tomislav square 4


King Tomislav square 4

In fact, that could be the description of the entire Lower Town. It is harmonious at first glance, but once you start detailspotting, a simple walk turns into an experience filled with joyful discoveries.

Header image credit: Iva Silla

Author: Iva Silla