More than Words

One of the Greatest - Tesla

Every time I pass by the ''thinker'' I smell a fragrance of greatness. This smell immediately intertwines with a feeling of humility because I am standing next to the representation of one of the greatest minds that have ever walked on our planet.

Let's slow down a little bit and clarify a few things. In my vocabulary, the thinker refers to a masterpiece of one of our most prominent sculptors Ivan Mestrovic – a monument of Nikola Tesla. You will find it in the town center in the vicinity of the popular Flower Square. It is easy to memorize because believe it or not, it is located in Nikola Tesla Street. As one of the shortest streets in Zagreb, it is full of surprises. Enter into the hidden courtyards and you will stumble upon one of the best restaurants in the city or discover charming coffee shops. I continue to observe the statue and start to smile because I always remember there is another commemoration of Tesla in a form of a plaque. This one I like to call a plaque about nothing, but we will get to that. Who was this gentleman and why is he so important?


Image credit: Filip Donadić


The first air that went into Tesla's lungs was the one from our region Lika. Even though our neighbors to the east claim him as their own, Tesla emphasized throughout his life that he is equally proud of his Croatian birth and his Serbian heritage. But the only important thing is the legacy he left to the whole world. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for alternating current, or as we like to call it electricity. All of our modern day appliances and gadgets use AC, and we have to thank Tesla for that. The invention of the electrical engine is also one of his creations. Californian electrical car company Tesla motors is not named after him by chance. The list of his creations continues: x rays, radar, remote control, wireless communication etc. The thing with Tesla was that he was not an entrepreneur, he was a genius wanting to create something without having to worry about marketing and profit.

Because of this, a lot of his patents and inventions were stolen. For example, while listening to the radio, please be aware that Marconi who got the Nobel prize for allegedly inventing the radio, actually did not invent it, Tesla did. The list of inventions is numerous, which is quite logical if you take into consideration the magnitude of his genius. But you do not have to believe my word, Albert Einstein was once asked how he felt as the smartest guy in the universe. He shortly replied that he did not know and that they should ask that question to Nikola Tesla. He spoke 8 languages and could simultaneously write with both hands in two different languages. He would make all of the design of his inventions in his head, including all the calculus, and then just put it flawless on a piece of paper without changing anything. Is this enough persuasion about the enormous size of his mastermind? Our lovely capital has a few more spots that commemorate this great man beside the previously mentioned street and monument.


Image credit: Filip Donadić


Probably the best place to get to know more about Tesla would be the Technical Museum of Zagreb that also bears the name of our famous inventor. One of the coolest parts is most certainly the Tesla cabinet. During the weekend, they have demonstrations of his work which is pretty fascinating. I always remember the time when I was observing the experiments surrounded with elementary school children, one of them informed me that he was 10. Because of this, the curator did his best to simplify the explanations of the alternating current and everything that we were about to see that day. That was the first time in my life I managed to comprehend AC and DC and the difference between them. I assure you it is not about the popular rock band and it is extremely interesting when explained as if you were a child. After a lot of information that is pumped into your brain, you have to align your thoughts and just chill.

There is also a friendly place in the town center just right for that. They recognized the importance of this greatest geek of all time and opened a café named Tesla. So I give a big shout out to all the staff in Tesla café that bring me frequent joy during my coffee breaks in their establishment. At the beginning of my brainstorming, I mentioned a plaque about nothing. If you would go to the historical nucleus of Zagreb, the medieval Upper town, you would come across another tribute to Nikola Tesla. Once a theater house, later on the city council of Zagreb, also embraces another story about our main character. At the entrance to the building, you will notice a plaque with a relief of Tesla and an inscription. The story goes like this. Once upon a time, Tesla addressed the local authorities and tried to encourage them to build an alternating current power station. Since the gas lobby at that time was too powerful, the city council said NO. To commemorate a conversation about something that had never been done they decided to put a plaque. Hence the plaque about nothing.


Image credit: Filip Donadić

Next to the plaque you will notice street lamps. Is it enough to say that those are still gas lamps?  Unfortunately,Tesla died in poverty in his New York City apartment. In his late days, he completely alienated himself from people and spent his time talking to pigeons. Sometimes I think of this when I am walking across the main Ban Jelacic Square and observe the children that are smiling while trying to catch the pigeons. Hopefully, the pigeons brought that same joy to our world-renowned inventor. So walk the paths that Tesla once walked, think off all the influence he has left behind and most of all, #LoveZagreb. The city that still has a lot to offer and invent.


Header image credit: Tesla Power House Facebook Page

Author: Filip Donadić