Untold Stories

Welcome to the playful shade of Krešimirac Park

We all tend to admire historical parks. The older they are, our appreciation grows stronger. Now, what if I told you that one of the most notable parks in Zagreb is only 85 years old? This youngster is unique for many reasons. Why not take a look at some of its prominent features?

Meet Krešimirac, Zagreb's youngest historical park, and one of the most valuable examples of modernistic park architecture in this region. As with most of the Zagreb parks and squares, this one also goes by a nickname. The real name is Park kralja Petra Krešimira IV. At the time when it was built, in the late 1930s, it was located at the very eastern end of the town. The city has grown since, and the park stayed on the outskirts of the central part. It is uniquely designed, split in two by a busy road. That only adds to the creative approach of its designer Ćiril Jeglič - with a rather geometrical design on one side and a winding English-style park on the other. The road itself is surrounded by a sycamore trees alley, making it a scenic ride. On one side of the park, there are walkways, bushes, benches, and a few hidden corners. On the other, you’ll find the first children's playground in Croatia, an adult park (it’s not what it sounds like), and a beautiful rose garden in between. 

Even looking at the photo of the park’s greenery, melts down the summer heat, doesn’t it?

Playtime for children...

It’s the 1930s, and it’s about time the Croatian capital gets a playground. What a playground it is! The first proper kids' playground in Croatia, and it’s the size of an average square. So large, yet it’s just a small part of Krešimirac Park. The playground was equipped with a shallow splashing pool, a drinking fountain (also used for splashing around), and a bunch of fun devices.  

An urban legend says that a child drowned in the pool. The water was eventually replaced by sand, and this statue supposedly remembers the poor kid.

...and a super quiet corner for adults

Undoubtedly, the most charming part of the park is the so-called adults' park. Inspired by Japanese gardens, its small surface surrounded by a fence has many secretive corners. You could share this part of the park with a dozen people, and still enjoy your alone spot. This is a perfect location to take a moment for yourself, especially when the Cosmic cycle of the water fountain completes the sense of harmony. 

This part of the park is a real discovery

A park without art? No can do

One might argue that the whole park is an architectural work of art. This is enhanced by the contemplative fountain designed by Josip Seissel in the aforementioned Japanese garden, and the two sculptures - the intriguing sculpture of a little boy by Emil Bohutinski from the photo above. There is also a beautiful sculpture of a young woman tending to the roses by Frano Kršinić. 

Wait till her roses are in bloom

I love the artist because his art is often hidden in plain sight. There are dozens of his works in Zagreb alone, and you might walk past them every day on your way to work, and not even notice them. But once you do, you will be pleasantly surprised, thrilled, and seriously puzzled - how come you haven't noticed it sooner? For those of you who know Zagreb by heart, here are some examples to prove my point: he is the author of the statue at the square in front of the Mimara museum and of the Wounded Men at the Strossmayer square. Have you noticed those? They are quite hidden. The woman tending to her roses is no exception. A bit tucked away, too, until the roses around her are in full bloom. 

The colorful shade

More than 80 species of trees and bushes decorate the park 

All of this was just one part of the park. On the other side of the busy road, a whole arboretum waits for you. In spring, don’t be surprised to see local teens trying to reach the high branches of the ginkgo tree. They are working on the biology assignment to collect leaves for their herbarium, and this is a rare ginkgo in Zagreb. 

Take a better look at the tree crowns in this part of the park. Almost every tree is different. Believe it or not, there are more than 80 species, living in harmony, and bringing deep shade to this entire neighborhood. 

Recognisable leaves of ginkgo balboa, a “living fossil” 

This has been a short introduction to Krešimirac, a park that raised more generations of children than any other park in Croatia. It's a park where thousands of books have been read, and so many fun conversations exchanged. I hope this article inspires you to spend some time here, too. Pick your favorite bench, and immerse yourself in this beautiful monument of park architecture. Enjoy the youngest remarkable park in Zagreb, even though its primary purpose wasn’t decorative. It was the first park with a social purpose. So, feel free to bring a friend, or meet one among its green residents. 

A lot of species from far away call Krešimirac their home. One of them is this curious sophora japonica.


Header Image & Author: Iva Silla