A broad, flagstoned expanse flanked by cafés and hectic with the whizz of trams and hurrying pedestrians, Trg bana Jelačića (Governor Jelačić Square) is as good a place as any to start exploring the city, and is within easy walking distance of more or less everything you’ll want to see. It’s also the biggest tram stop in Zagreb, standing at the intersection of seven cross-town routes, and the place where half the city seems to meet in the evening – either beneath the ugly clock mounted on metal stilts on the western side of the square, or right on the corner of the square and Gajeva (a corner colloquially known as “Krleža” after the bookshop that once stood here).

At the square’s centre is the attention-hogging equestrian statue of the nineteenth-century Ban of Croatia, Josip Jelačić, completed in 1866 by the Viennese sculptor Fernkorn just as the Habsburg authorities were beginning to erode the semi-autonomy which Jelačić had won for the nation. The square was renamed Trg republike in 1945 and the statue – considered a potential rallying point for Croatian nationalism – was dismantled on the night of July 25, 1947. Its constituent parts were stored away in a basement until 1990, when it was restored to its rightful place – although the statue now faces in a different direction to that intended. Originally positioned with Jelačić’s drawn sabre pointing north (a gesture of defiance to the Austro-Hungarian imperial order), it now points southwards, as if to emphasize the historic rupture between Croatia and her Balkan neighbours.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Croatia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Vukovar: inland Croatia's laidback escape

Vukovar: inland Croatia's laidback escape

The fastest-emerging tourist destination in inland Croatia is not one you might expect. Twenty five years ago, the pretty Danube-hugging town of Vukovar was alm…

06 Dec 2016 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
10 great winter destinations in Central and Eastern Europe

10 great winter destinations in Central and Eastern Europe

Forget the plummeting temperatures and long dark nights, winter is a hugely rewarding season in which to visit Central and Eastern Europe. Frozen rivers, frosty…

28 Nov 2016 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
Sailing in Croatia: a first-timer’s guide

Sailing in Croatia: a first-timer’s guide

Coastlines don’t come much more idyllic than Croatia’s 2000km of ruggedly beautiful Adriatic shore. Along this magnificent stretch are ancient Roman remains…

09 Nov 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month