Untold Stories

Christmassy passages around Ilica street

Don’t you love the feeling of sliding into an alley, and as a reward, finding yourself face-to-face with a charming discovery? Imagine if these discoveries had a touch of Christmas!

Some people who visit the Christmas festivities in Zagreb, only when they return home discover the hidden corners online! Let’s make sure you don’t miss them. Welcome to the Christmassy passages.

Most of the passages that recently went through a Christmas makeover are alongside Ilica street in the narrow city center. Our first stop is a passage in Ilica 49. This is a place to go shopping for local craftspeople's products. Its decorations there evoke winter nostalgia. If you’re lucky, you will pass by when some creative events are taking place. Just the other day, I was there when a choir was singing from the balcony, and the voices were harmoniously echoing throughout the passage. So enchanting!

Delightful passage in Ilica 49 

We are heading to Polar Dream, the contemplative decoration of Tunnel Grič. This is the youngest of our passages, an impressive concrete structure under the historical Upper Town. It has several entrances. Usually, it doesn’t matter where you enter. However, at this time of the year, you can only access it from Mesnička street (just a slight detour from Ilica), and exit on Radićeva street. Don’t even try to persuade the guard to let you in from the wrong side, as he’s there with one mission: to point you to the right entrance. The tunnel is a witness of the turbulent 20th-century history - it was built to serve as a shelter in WWII. However, it's impossible to think of such harsh realities once you reach the immersive art installation in the middle of the tunnel.

The installation is called Polar Dream. It invites you to reflect on the things you’ve achieved so far, and the things that lie ahead. I recommend you come in the first part of the day when it’s still not too crowded. That way, you will have enough time to experience it... and snap a few photos, why not?

The tunnel decorations are extraordinarily photogenic.

In the same street of Ilica, closer to the main square at the number 14, you will find the Jagerhorn passage. It belongs to one of the oldest hotels in the town. The passage is so picturesque (and instagrammable)! This can be a nice place to take a break, surrounded by a movie-like Christmas scenery, and the inviting scent of mulled wine.

Why not stop and sing a Christmas carol with the help of this detail from the Jagerhorn passage?

Finally, our exploration of tucked-away Christmas delights brings us to Ilica 5 and Oktogon. Oktogon is the most exclusive passage in Zagreb that connects Ilica street and Cvjetni (Flower) square. It was built at the very end of the 1800s and has recently been refurbished. This means we can fully absorb the details of its glass ceiling once again. Its name Oktogon comes from the eight sides of its middle part. That’s where you will find a charming decoration called Music Box. A Christmas tree slowly rotates, while the whole building is filled with the sounds of musical evergreens.

I hope you will have a lovely time exploring these passages. They are this city’s treasure all year round. Yet, they are at their best during Advent in Zagreb.  

Enchanting “music box” of the Oktogon passage 


Header image credit: Lice Grada

Author: Iva Silla