Untold Stories

Zagreb Book Buzz

Debates, social influence, and creative forces of Croatian writers, who started gathering in Zagreb cafes and bars in the 1800s, are still buzzing through the streets of the city.

The first location of Zagreb city library was on the second floor of the Stone Gate tower, right under the pyramidal rooftop in the photo.

I wonder if the topic of Croatian literature is of any interest to travelers. Writers are among the most influential and recognizable Croatian historical personalities. We are sometimes not fully aware of their accomplishments or very familiar with their work, yet we sure pay homage to our writers. This is more than obvious on the streets of Zagreb. 

Iconic statue of Antun Gustav Matoš on the bench. The same one can be found in Paris, another city he loved.

Do you know that most of the ground schools in Zagreb are named after writers? Out of 60 honorary citizens of Zagreb, there are 10 writers! That’s quite a percentage. There are streets, squares, and statues of writers, even in the narrow city center 

The statue of one of the most influential Croatian writers, Miroslav Krleža, is placed right across the street from his former home. 

I hope these facts prove that we honestly love our writers (even if we sometimes don’t fully appreciate their books to be quite frank), and they fill our every day lives. For those of you who would love to learn more about Croatian literature once you get to Zagreb, you will be thrilled to know there is so much to see and do.

You could, for instance, visit the National State Archives and learn about the most precious Croatian books. 

The Archives building is equally exquisite inside and out.  

If you’re passing by the popular Flower square (Cvjetni trg), know there are several statues of poets and writers in its vicinity. Just around the corner, in Varšavska street, there is a big statue of an incredible bohemian poet Tin Ujević. The square itself hosts a statue of a famous poet. 

Petar Preradović Square is commonly referred to as the Flower Square

When you need a drink, visit the K&K bar in Jurišićeva street near the main city square. It was founded by Zvonimir Milčec, the so-called good spirit of Zagreb, who wrote many books about Zagreb, and undisputedly captured the soul of the city. If you learn a fun fact or enjoy a joke from your local tour guide, there’s a good chance they stole it from one of Milčec’s books. Interior of the bar is a trip down Zagreb's memory lane, too. 

Or, you could order a coffee in Palainovka. You will be sharing the bar with the spirits of great writers, as this was the famous gathering spot of a 19th-century cultural movement. 

Visit memorial places, such as Marija Jurić Zagorka memorial apartment or Kuća Šenoa

Marija was a journalist, a writer, and an activist. She is still one of the most beloved personalities of Zagreb. Kuća Šenoa, or House Šenoa, is a place dedicated to the most Zagreb-like writer August Šenoa. 

Marija Jurić Zagorka people-watching 

Croatian writers have shaped this city with their words. Even if we're not perfectly aware of it, the literary legacy is all around us in the streets of Zagreb. Join us in reading the Zagreb book buzz!

Lines from Judith, Croatian literary piece of historical importance. Last year, Croatia marked the 500th anniversary of its printed edition. 


Header image credit: Iva Silla

Author: Iva Silla