Untold Stories

Historical Celebs of Jurjevska Street

There is something about Jurjevska street in the Upper town district. If you take a walk through the winding street on a quiet day, you can feel the ethereal spirit of old. I am sure we owe a part of the atmosphere to the many unusual personalities who lived here. Let me introduce you to at least some of them.

Our first stop is the Mažuranić house. The last name Mažuranić resonates with the Croatian people. Ivan Mažuranić, a politician, a poet, and even the creator of some modern Croatian words, owned the house. There are two memorial plaques on the house: one that remembers him, and the other that remembers his granddaughter. The granddaughter is the one that will spark even more emotion in any local that passes by.

House Mažuranić in Jurjevska street no 5 is now the residency of the Spanish ambassador in Croatia


Ivana Brlić Mažuranić is one of the most iconic personalities in Croatian history. This Nobel prize in literature nominee spent a part of her life here - some years of her childhood and her last years. Ivana is to Croatia what Brothers Grimm are to Germany, or Hans Christian Andersen to Denmark. Through her writing, she encapsulated the ancient folk spirit and turned it into her own unique imaginary. You can try and read to your kids her fairy tales before bedtime. There is a free ebook of her Croatian Tales of Long Ago.

Jurjevska means St George’s street. This statue of St George in front of the Stone Gate originally decorated the Mažuranić garden.  


Across the street from the Mažuranić house, another writer spent some of his life. Antun Gustav Matoš and his atmospheric poetry are often compared to the French Baudelaire or the lord of dark poetry Edgar Allan Poe. 

You might already be familiar with Antun Gustav Matoš, as his statue decorates a promenade that overlooks the city in the Upper Town.


As we approach a big intersection, another famous name awaits. In one of the buildings lived the composer of the first opera ever written in the Croatian language. His name was quite fierce, or should I say - fiery - Vatroslav Lisinski. Vatra means fire, and slav is a rather common ending for first names. He actually changed his original name Ignac Fuchs into a more Croatian one.

There is something ethereal about Jurjevska street.

There is no way anyone passes through Jurjevska street without wondering about the history of an impressive yellow house with a rectangular tower. Some significant personalities and artists lived in Villa Lubienski for a while. Among them was a German actress called Tilla Durieux. She spent almost two decades in this house before she moved to Germany. She was a peculiar character that moved in with her friend here. The ultimate cat lady hosted a wedding party for one of her cats. She worked as a costume designer and a puppeteer for the puppet theater, and often recited Rainer Maria Rilke for her friends. She owned an impressive art collection, which she donated to the city of Zagreb. You can now see a part of that exhibition in the Zagreb City Museum.

The renaissance-revival style of Villa Lubienski makes it possibly the most stunning house in Jurjevska street.


Oh, isn't this overwhelming? So many impressive residents, and we haven’t even reached the most beautiful part of the street! I hope this was a great start to our immersive walk through Jurjevska street, and will inspire you to continue exploring it by yourself.

Why don’t you come back at night? A night stroll through Jurjevska street is a different experience, with somewhat of a dark twist. We might share that in one of the future blogs.



Header image credit: Iva Silla

Author: Iva Silla