Untold Stories

The day of a 930 year-old city

It’s time for Zagreb to celebrate! The day of the city is fast approaching, and this year, it will be full of engaging participative events.

Does your city have its day? A lot of Croatian towns celebrate theirs. It can be their founding date or some other important date in the city’s history. Sometimes it’s the holiday of the patron saint. Zagreb is no different - it has its very own day. Throughout its history, Zagreb has covered all of the above - from birthdays to holidays. The well-documented history of the city offers an array of choices for a perfect city day. Let’s go through some of them. 

Dan Otvorenog Grada - The Open City Day with events in various locations throughout the day. 


Two Zagrebs and their birthdays

You might have heard by now that the oldest part of Zagreb consists of two medieval towns: Kaptol and Gradec. The older one is Kaptol, founded 930 years ago. We don’t know the exact date, but at least we know we have a lovely round anniversary to celebrate this year. Gradec is a bit younger. It received the title of a free royal town on the 16th of November 1242, as stated in one of the most important documents from the city’s past: The Golden Bull. For a long while, 16th November was officially Zagreb City Day.

Photo by S. Carek/TZGZ


Two Zagrebs form a single Zagreb

It wasn’t until the year 1850 that the two towns got together. They gathered their surrounding settlements and formed the nowadays Zagreb. The exact date was the 7th of September. That day marks the start of the development of the city as we now know it. 7 September is indeed the date of Zagreb’s unity. In 1850, Kaptol and Gradec dismissed their historical misunderstandings and quarrels and formed a modern city. On that day in 1856, the city crossed the river Sava in the south, and that marked the beginning of the creation of the Novi Zagreb area. 

The first mention of the name

Another big anniversary just happened last month - on the 26th of April. It has been 890 years since a document mentions the name of the city for the first time. The origin of the name might still be a mystery, but there’s absolutely no doubt that it has been her for centuries!


A miracle saved Zagreb

When you enter the Stone Gate passage, you will immediately notice the connection and gratitude notes on the walls: the word “hvala” (thank you) is found over and over again. 


For decades now, Zagreb has been celebrating its day of the city on the day of its rebirth. 31st of May is the holiday of the Mother of God of the Stone Gate.

What happened back then? Throughout its history, Zagreb has been through many disasters - especially fires and earthquakes. One of the great fires happened in May of 1731 when the flames burnt a large part of the city to the ground. On the location of the Stone Gate, the residents found a painting. It was found in the ashes, even if its frames burnt. The painting showed Mother Mary and little Jesus, and it seemed like a miracle. The painting found its home inside the Stone Gate. It is a big part of the local tradition, whether you belong to the prevailing catholic religion or not.

Which of these dates would be your favorite choice for Zagreb City Day? Come on, join in the conversation. More importantly, join the celebration on the 31st of May! When a 930-year-old invites you, simply say “Hvala” and join!

Header image credit: J. Duval / TZGZ

Author: Iva Silla