South of the Upper Town, the modern Lower Town (Donji grad) is a bit of a sprawl, with grey office blocks and apartment buildings surrounding the occasional example of imposing Habsburg-era architecture. Breaking the urban uniformity is a series of interconnected garden squares, laid out from the 1870s onwards, which gives the downtown area a U-shaped succession of promenading areas and parks. Known as Lenuci’s Horseshoe (Lenucijeva podkova) after Milan Lenuci, the city planner responsible for its layout, this was a deliberate attempt to give Zagreb a distinctive urban identity, providing it with public spaces bordered by the set-piece institutions – galleries, museums, academies and theatres – that it was thought every modern city should have. The horseshoe was never entirely finished, though, and it’s unlikely you’ll follow the full U-shaped itinerary intended by Lenuci. The first of the horseshoe’s two main series of squares starts with Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog – usually referred to as Zrinjevac – which begins a block south of Trg bana Jelačića; to the west of Zrinjevac is the second line of squares, culminating with Trg maršala Tita. To the south are the Botanical Gardens, which were intended to provide the final green link between the two arms of the horseshoe, but didn’t quite manage it: several characterless downtown blocks prevent it from joining Tomislavov trg to the east.
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