History of Zagreb

Zagreb is the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is located in the northwest of the country along the shores of the river Sava and on the south slopes of the mountain Medvednica. Its favorable geographical position makes it a perfect settlement and it seems that people always lived here. Protected from the north-eastern winds by the mountain Medvednica the City of Zagreb is considerably warmer during winter months than the surrounding area, however, combined with its vicinity to the river it makes it also prone to be caught in the fog.

While the human habitats were present at the wider city area since the Neolithic period (the oldest settlement was a Roman town of Andautonia dates back to the 1st century AD), the first mention of the name Zagreb was in 1094 was when Hungarian king Ladislav founded a diocese in it. There are different theories about the origin of the name "Zagreb". Some sources suggest that the name derives from the term "za breg" ("beyond the hill") while other think that the possible origin is the term "za grabom" ("behind the moat").

Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements located on the neighbouring hills-Gradec and Kaptol ("Capitulum"), the border between two being the Medveščak stream. Gradec was the settlement of merchants and craftsmen, while Kaptol was a diocese and the canonical settlement of the Zagreb Bishopric. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers, remains of which are still well preserved. Diverse origin, interests and politics were often the cause of many disputes and even bloody conflicts between these two settlements.

KAPTOL

Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements located on the neighbouring hills-Gradec and Kaptol ("Capitulum"), the border between two being the Medveščak stream. Gradec was the settlement of merchants and craftsmen, while Kaptol was a diocese and the canonical settlement of the Zagreb Bishopric. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers, remains of which are still well preserved. Diverse origin, interests and politics were often the cause of many disputes and even bloody conflicts between these two settlements.

Although Kaptol was a thriving canonical settlement in the Middle Ages it had no fortifications. It was merely enclosed with wooden fences or palisades, which were repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt. In XV century the Turks began to attack this region which prompted the Bishop of Zagreb to fortify the settlement of Kaptol. Those defensive towers and walls are still preserved today.

GRADEC

Both of the settlements came under Tatar attack in the XIII century. Fleeing from the Tartars, the Hungarian-Croatian king Bela IV stopped at Gradec and tried to organize his defense. As a sign of gratitude for offering him a safe haven he bestowed Gradec with the royal charter known as the Golden Bull ("Bulla Aurea") in 1242 Thus Gradec was declared and proclaimed "a free royal city on Gradec, the hill of Zagreb". The Golden Bull offered its citizens an exemption from county rule and autonomy, as well as its own judicial system which was a symbol of freedom and independence.

Immediately after Tatar retreat citizens started to build the walls around Gradec, fearing a new Mongol invasion. The defensive walls enclosed the settlement in the triangle shape; its top was located near the tower called "Popov toranj" and its base at the south wall (today's Strossmayer Promenade) and Lotrščak tower. It could be rightly assumed that by building its fortification walls in the middle of the XIII century, Gradec acquired its outward appearance that can be clearly seen in today's Gornji Grad. From that time on, Gradec began to grow. People built beautiful palaces, churches and defense walls, modeled after other European towns giving the city its unique charm and romantic patina.

During the XIV and XV centuries, the two communities actively tried to dispute each other - economically and politically and the two towns often descended into violence and near warfare (the bishopric would excommunicate Gradec, which responded by burning Kaptol). They only worked together for the occasional large commercial venture - such as the three yearly fairs each lasting two weeks.

In the 1557, the Croatian Parliament, representing both Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia first convened at Gradec and from that period Zagreb is a political and capital center. Meanwhile, the plain below the fortified hills became a commercial center and both towns lost their economic importance by the beginning of the 17th century. Now days Kaptol and Gradec form the culture center of the modern city.

The city began to grow and Zagreb confirmed its position as the administrative, cultural and economic center of Croatia. The bishopric of Kaptol since became the Archbishopric of Zagreb. In 1606 Jesuits came in Zagreb from Ljubljana and brought printing house with them. Very next year they founded Academy and lecture philosophy, theology and law. In the year 1669, the Croatian-Hungarian King Leopold I grants the right to the Academy to be transformed into a University (Neoacademia Zagrabiensis).

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Zagreb was badly devastated by the fire and plague. When Kaptol, Gradec and the surrounding settlements were administratively combined into the integrated city of Zagreb in 1850, the development accelerated. The earthquake of 1880 sparked off the reconstruction and modernization of the town, also transportation and other infrastructures were organized.

In the 19th century, the city’s cultural and educational life blossomed with the opening of the Music Institute in 1829., Croatian Academy of Arts and Science in 1866. and the University of Zagreb in 1874. The first railway in 1862. connected Zagreb to Vienna and Budapest, important markets. Industrial development begins in middle of XIX century with more than 100 machine, textile, food and graphics companies. Many imposing buildings, monuments, parks, museums, theaters and cinemas were built. Since 1 January 1877, the cannon is fired daily from the Lotrščak Tower on Grič to mark the midday.

Zagreb was the center of the Pan-Slavic Illyrian movement that was pressing for unification of the South-Slavics which led Croatia and its capital to join the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes after the World War I. During World War II Zagreb became the capital of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna država Hrvatska), but the fascist state never enjoyed a great deal of support with the capital rather it became a center of resistance against Nazism. After World War II Zagreb stayed the capital city of Socialist Republic of Croatia within Yugoslavia.

In the 1920., the population increased by 70 percent which was the largest demographic boom in the history of the town. In 1926. first radio station started to broadcast out of Zagreb. By the 1960s, the city spread out over the wide plains along the Sava river, living in the plenty of a civil society with firm links with all the European centers. In 1991. Zagreb was made the capital of Croatia, the same year the country became independent.

Today Zagreb is the cultural, political and administrative center of the Republic of Croatia and it continues to lead its own peculiar life. Kaptol is today the center of Croatia's Catholic church and its spiritual life, while Gradec (today's Upper Town) represents, along with the Croatian Parliament, the political and administrative center. Below them the Lower Town lives in the rhythm of business activities that take place in its economic, scientific and cultural institutions. The river Sava separates Novi Zagreb district (on the south) from the rest of the city, but the biggest expansion of the city was in perpendicular east-west direction, along the river.

OVERVIEW OF IMPORTANT HISTORICAL EVENTS

AD 879 The Zagreb area, between the rivers Sava and Drava, becomes part of the Croatian state under the rule of King Tomislav, crowned as the first Croatian king in 925

1094 The Hungarian King Ladislas establishes the Kaptol Diocese

1242 The Croatian-Hungarian King Bela IV grants the Golden Bull to Gradec (the Upper Town), as a token of appreciation for the citizens who provided him shelter during the Tatarian invasion

1355 Mention of the first pharmacy

1557 Turkish invasions. The first mention of Zagreb as the capital of Croatia and Slavonia

1607 Foundation of the Jesuit college in Gradec

1662 Foundation of the first printing house by the Jesuits, and Jesuit Academy in Gradec

1669 The Croatian-Hungarian King Leopold I grants the right to the Academy to be transformed into a University (Neoacademia Zagrabiensis)

1771 The first weekly paper published in Latin - Ephemerides Zagrebienses

1834 The first permanent theater opens on the southern side of St. Mark's Square at Gradec

1850 Zagreb becomes a single administrative unit by unification of Kaptol and Gradec

1866 Supported by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer of Ðakovo, the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts is founded as the central academy of all South Slavs; to be later renamed into the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

1880 A severe earthquake strikes the area of Zagreb

1896 The first movie projection

1901 The first car in the streets of Zagreb

1913 Completion of the building of the National University Library

1917 Foundation of the Zagreb Medical School

1926 The first radio station starts broadcasting (the first in this part of Europe)

1956 The first broadcast of Zagreb Television

1987 The University Games

1990 The first session of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) after the first free, democratic multi-party elections on 30 May

1991 On June 25 Croatia ceded from the former Yugoslav Federation and became an independent state