Heartbeat of Zagreb

Revealing the Secret Side of Zagreb and the Mysteries Originating from Its Rich History

The capital of Croatia developed a lot of secrets and mysteries throughout its history. In this blog, you can read about some places tied to those stories. You can even visit them but at your own risk.

Some will compare Zagreb to a village implying that everyone knows everyone, at least through someone if not directly. On the other hand, Zagreb is the biggest city in Croatia. This well-known fact brings us to some interesting points. The area of 641 km2 is bound to hide some secrets within, and this is what this blog is about.  From 1094, the year when it was mentioned for the first time in written form, Zagreb has been a home to many stories, myths, and legends. Some of those will be connected to the places in Zagreb you can visit but at your own risk because they could either be cursed or off limits to visitors.


"The Lady with the Camellias"

Photo Credit: Tibor Trupec


We will start at the highest point first and that, of course, is Brestovac Asylum. It was built on 22nd of May in 1909. Its construction was initiated by Milivoj Dežman, a benefactor, physician, author, journalist and the editor of the newspaper "Obzor". Some sources say his main motive for building the asylum was his immense love towards Zagreb's gorgeous actor Ljerka pl. Šram who was suffering from tuberculosis. Some historians even compare that story with the one written by Alexandre Dumas, "The Lady with the Camellias" which adds a romantic note to the whole story. Those who read it will know what I'm talking about. Over the years, the asylum recorded significant improvements in healing tuberculosis, but it closed its doors for the patients in 1968 due to some changes in the health system and the treating method. Today, it's an abandoned ruin, and it sometimes serves as a place for playing war games like paintball


The Raving Dictator


Photo Credit: Darmon Richter/ http://www.thebohemianblog.com


At about 541 m altitude, just below Brestovac asylum, there is an old mansion called Villa Rabar. The villa was built by the city in the 1920s and was first used as a hunter hut. Later, throughout the years, Ante Pavelić, a Croatian dictator and a leader of the Independent State of Croatia took it for himself and made the Villa his home during the 1940s. The villa has secret tunnels which served as a gateway if Pavelić and his family found themselves in danger. Other tunnels connect the manor to some nearby military bunkers. The villa was used as a restaurant in the 1980s when it burned, leaving only parts made of stone and the tunnels. Today, Villa Rebar is barely visible from the road next to it. The fun fact about it is that the Zagreb youth held two wild rave parties in the 90s there, and even an MTV crew went there to report about it. 

Photo Credit: Darmon Richter/ http://www.thebohemianblog.com


From Airport to the centre in minutes

A little bit further than 10 km away, there is an abandoned airport called "The Borongaj Airport". It was built in Zagreb neighbourhood - Borongaj after WWI in 1928. It was a modern and technically equipped airport for both civil and military air traffic. It was the first airport fully equipped with all the necessary objects for landing and taking off. That year, the mayor of Zagreb, Vjekoslav Heinzel flew over Zagreb taking off from that very airport.

Later on, the airport was used only for a military purpose. Another fun fact about the airport is that Charles Lindbergh himself landed on it after a successful flight over the Atlantic in February 1927. In its first year of traffic, the airport transported 1322 passengers and about 10 tons of cargo.

Let's end this trip in a more cheerful mood. This last spot is not so shrouded in secrecy, but it's fascinating. It's about the statue of Marija Jurić Zagorka in Tkalčićeva Street. While her life itself was a mystery and there is a tone of history tied to her name, the statue in Tkalčićeva also carries a little secret. If you reach under the statue, you should find some small case that contains a piece of paper where people write their name on and show they know about the little secret. Unfortunately, people often steal the case and the paper. So if you reach under the statue and find nothing, you can put a piece of paper with your name on it.



Photo Credit: Z. Turkulin/ www.ps-portal.eu


Header Image Credit: Tibor Trupec

Author: Tibor Trupec