The Bank's Alley of Sculptures: between the old and the new

Eleven different sculptures installed by the river are connecting the old and the new part of the city. What stories could they tell if only they could talk?

What does Zagreb, Belgrade, Prague, Budapest, London, and Paris have in common? They all, like Joe Strummer from The Clash, live by the river. Truth be told, the Sava river in Zagreb is not as vivid and central point of the city as in the rest of the pleiad of river cities. But, even if we don't have crazy 'allnighters' in clubs like Belgrade does or famous bridges like Prague, Budapest or London, it doesn't mean our river can't quench our thirst for going out, recreation or beautiful nature that surrounds it. But, before I go on about the rich flora and fauna of the Sava river, let me introduce you to my faithful companion through the moody changes of seasons in the capital: 'Savski nasip' (The Bank).


Carried in by the flood

Before the bank, Sava was a friendly place for people to go for a swim, or do a bit of romantical entrepreneurship with the pretty ladies down by the nudist beach, one of the first in Europe. But, then there was a terrible flood in 1964 that spread throughout the city. 

Even though the beach and all the infrastructure on its sides were ruined, Zagrebians decided to build a bank, so it could never happen again. 

Let me be clear, the bank is not a posh place, but Zagrebians love it. They use it for recreational purposes, to take long walks with their family or have fun with their pets, but you can also see people just sitting calmly  looking at the water as if the Sava has put some spell on them.  It is located right on the border of the 'old' and the 'new' part of the city. Hence, the south side belongs to the new part of the city, and the north side defends the colors of the old part.


Image credit: Lana Suša


The sculptures

The thing that makes the long walks along the bank a unique experience is the sculpture alley going all the way from the Railway Bridge (popularly known as Hendrix bridge) to Liberty Bridge a few kilometers down.

So, if you want a true experience of Zagreb 'španciranje' (germanism for 'a walk' often used by old Zagrebians), I suggest walking through the alley. The idea was to enrich Zagreb's cultural offer with the biggest open gallery in the city.

The mission of the author of the project, Ratko Petrić, was to retrieve the long forgotten Sava beach by giving the people a fusion between contemporary Croatian art and nature as a polygon for merging two seemingly incommensurable parts of the town. The sculptures, to be more precise eleven of them, have been installed for more than 21  years. And each and every one of them has its own story.


Image credit: Lana Suša


The Hand, The Wheels, Drops, The Two and The Frogs

First there were Drops. They were installed in 1990, which is kind of symbolic considering that Croatia was declared a republic in that year. So basically, the alley is as old as Croatia.

Then, along came The Runner some hundreds of meters upstream. He was followed by the 'Cornerstone', 'The Frogs', 'Wheel of Time', 'The Cat', 'Man with the Wheel', 'Road sign', 'Two', 'Flow', and 'The Hand'. Each and every one of them is so different, but yet only a few meters apart from each other. Just like people, right?


Image credit: Lana Suša


My favorite part of the eleven different artists is the one right next to the Hendrix bridge, where the 'Road sign' is. Those are the two chubby legs where I like to chill and just look down the alley thinking about all the stories sculptures hold within. Imagine what they could say if only they could talk. :)



Header image credit: Zvonimir Mikašek, Atletski klub Sljeme

Author: Lana Suša