The Green Horseshoe

The Green Horseshoe or the Lenuci Horseshoe is a horseshoe-shaped system of squares with parks in downtown (Donji grad) Zagreb. The horseshoe was conceived in 1882 by Croatian architect and urbanist Milan Lenuci. The parks were projected and built between 1865 and 1920s. The construction was helped by the efforts to rebuild the city after the 1880 Zagreb earthquake, and in 1889 the entire horseshoe was finalised in shape with its two ends connected by the newly built ‘Royal University Botanic Garden’. The park system consists of seven squares aligned on three straight lines. It is statutorily protected (all the parks and distinguished buildings, including the Exhibition greenhouse in the Garden) as a Cultural heritage of the Republic of Croatia.

On your way to or from the Garden you will probably pass several parks and squares within the Green horseshoe. To the east of the Garden (through the Pedestrian bridge entrance on the Miramarska Rd.) you will pass the Dr. Ante Starčević Square in front of the Esplanade hotel (built in 1925 for the rich guests taking the passage on the famous Orient Express!). Next to the square is the palace of the MAIN RAILWAY STATION, built in 1892. in neoclassical style.

To the north of the Station is a series of  three squares: the first is the King Tomislav Square with a beautiful ART PAVILION opened in 1898.

In the following J.J. Strossmayer Square the dominating building is the palace of the CROATIAN ACADEMY of SCIENCES and ARTS. Concept design of the palace in neo-renaissance style was made by architect Friedrich von Schmidt and his assistant Herman Bollé. The works started in 1877 and finished in 1880 but the great earthquake damaged the building badly, delaying its opening. Finally, on 9 November 1884 – the 4th anniversary of the earthquake, the palace was ceremonially handed over to the Academy.

North to the Academy palace is the oldest and one of the most beautiful Zagreb squares and parks , the NIKOLA ŠUBIĆ ZRINSKI SQUARWE, popularly known as ‘Zrinjevac’, opened in its form in 1873. The most striking feature of this square are not the palaces (even though many important museums and government buildings are located around the square) but the tall trees of LONDON PLANES (Platanus x acerifolia), planted in 1872.

From the Exhibition greenhouse in the Garden, stretching to the north is the western ‘arm’ of the Green horseshoe, with the Marko Marulić Square first in the row. Dominating building in the square is the CROATIAN STATE ARCHIVES. The palace was finished in 1913 for the purposes of the Royal University Library and Royal State Archives. It is a striking example of art nouveau style and a unique entire art work (gesamtkunstwerk) by chief architect Rudolf Lipinski and many Croatian artists.

In the following Mažuranić Brothers Square there was a first public skating rink in 1850s, created by diverting the Tuškanac creek in the field.  Small brick building in historicism style was built in 1895 for the Gymnastic-patriotic society ‘Croatian falcon’. Today it is a home to both the gymnastic society and the Academy of dramatic arts. In the western part of the square (no. 14) the ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM is situated. The palace of the former Trade and crafts museum was opened in 1904 keeps valuable written and material cultural objects, like costumes, musical instruments, furniture etc.

The last (or the first) square in the row is the Republic of Croatia Square (former Marshal Tito Sq.). In mid 19th century it was only a marshland space in the outskirts of the city, with the first building erected in 1855. Originally a hospital run by the Sisters of Charity, from 1882 it is a Rectorate of the University of Zagreb.

The representative palace of the Trade high school and the MUSEUM OF ARTS AND CRAFTSwas built in 1888 in the western side of the square. The palace was designed by Herman Bollé in historicism style, with the facade in the spirit of German renaissance. It hosts valuable collections and interesting exhibitions.

In the eastern side of the square is the palace of Croatian teachers home, dating from 1889, today a home to the CROATIAN SCHOOL MUSEUM. The Museum holds collections of teaching aids, teaching materials and school equipment, students’ and teachers’ writings, textbooks and handbooks, school regulations, an archival collection of documents, a collection of photographs and a record file on schools. Among most valuable items in the Museum’s collections are the 1890s aquarelle paintings of water lilies in the Botanical garden by Slava Raškaj!

The most dominating building in the square is the palace of the CROATIAN NATIONAL THEATAR. After several decades of the discussions about the location of the new theatre, it was finally decided to build it in this square just before the royal visit of the Emperor Franz Joseph I. in autumn 1895. The palace was built in a year and ceremonially opened by the Emperor on 14 October 1895.

Other than the sights in the Green horseshoe, we also recommend the nearby ‘Nikola Tesla’ Technical museum and the Croatian nature history museum in the Upper town.

Sights of the Green horseshoe and museums in the vicinity of the Garden; 1 – Botanical garden, 2  -Central railway station, 3 – Art pavilion/The King Tomislav Square, 4 – Croatian academy of sciences and arts / The J. J. Strossmayer Square, 5 – The N. Š, Zrinski Square, 6 – Croatian State Archives / The Marko Marulić Square, 7 – The Ethnographic Museum / The Mažurinać Brothers Square, 8 – The University of Zagreb Rectorate, 9 – The Arts and Crafts Museum, 10 – The Croatian School Museum, 11 – The Croatian National Theatre / The Republic of Croatia Square, 12 – Technical museum ‘Nikola Tesla’, 13 – Croatian natural history museum

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