Untold Stories

The colors of Zagreb

Zagreb often receives color-themed epithets. Blue Zagreb and White Zagreb are the most common ones among the locals. What makes Zagreb blue or white? What is the actual color of Zagreb?

Most of the Zagrebers will reply to that question without hesitation. The answer is blue. More precisely, it’s the particular shade of blue that you will often spot on the streets - the Zagreb blue. It is the color of the flag of the city and the public transport.

Other shades of blue are good enough, too. The most popular soccer club Dinamo Zagreb carries a darker blue. Its supporters Bad Blue Boys will introduce you to Dinamo blue through their graffiti all over the city.

Zagreb Blue is the color of the funicular - Photo: S. Kaštelan

Then again, there is a well-known local phrase Beli Zagreb grad - the white city of Zagreb. It supposedly comes from the famous cleanliness of Zagreb, achieved through grand 19th-century projects. For instance, in the flood season, the streets used to get filthy from the muddy waters of Medveščak creek. The creek used to run through the narrow city center. Major projects redirected it at the end of the 19th century. New parks, new wide roads, and new architectural achievements brought an urban touch to the small town of the era. This vision of embellishment of the city was often called Beli Zagreb grad even by the officials.

 Spacious green parks are part of what makes Zagreb white - Photo: J. Duval

I would not ignore the black, either. It is the color of the famous Zagreb legends. Black Queen - the mythical witch-ruler, Black School - the sorcery academy. Those are some dark tales, dearly remembered despite the blackness in their name. 

If you are not from Zagreb, you will probably notice the color green sometimes placed next to the city name. Green Zagreb with its parks and forests. One look at the satellite image of the city, and you will indeed spot so many green spaces. The green seems like a well-deserved description, too. 

Red is the color of two authentic symbols of this region. The traditional licitar heart - a souvenir cookie - is typically shiny red. The red umbrella is a part of the folk garment.

Stunning colors of St Marks Church - Photo: M. Gašparović

Then there are bright colors of the St Mark’s church, rooftops covered in orange tiles, violet magnolia and iris in springtime, blue trams and skies, green parks, dark tales, pastel frontages or the intense yellow ones, silver pigeons, and pink sunsets. Zagreb might be blue, as we, the locals, say. But blue seems to come in many colors here in Zagreb. 

Art Pavillion in early spring - Photo: J. Duval

Header image credit: Julien Duval

Author: Iva Silla