Untold Stories

Worlds within the blocks - a fading ingredient of a utopian city life

Zagreb is a city with back doors into hidden worlds. Have you noticed that the buildings in Zagreb are arranged in big blocks? It takes as much as 10 minutes to walk around one of those. You could feel a bit suffocated by the busy city on a regular stroll. However, there's a little secret: the spacious areas are well-hidden. Just one look at Google Maps will unveil a world by itself inside each of the blocks.

There are people living in the city center who need to keep the windows shut on one side of the apartment because the noise from the street is unbearable. On the other side of the same flat, the view of the treetops makes them forget there is a city around them. Yet, the exclusivity of such a place often hides in plain sight even from its owners, let alone from an unsuspecting passer-by.

Aerial view of a part of the city center as seen on Google Maps.

Some of those blocks, or at least parts of them, are open for discovery. Still, even if their gates are welcoming you, it's good to be aware they form parts of blocks, and they are to secure some privacy and comfort for its residents. 

Palm trees in Zagreb? Why not? All sorts of curiosities are hiding within the blocks.

Park in Šubićeva street

One of the precious discoveries is a park in my old neighbourhood. Full of gems - deep tree shade, tiny gardens, a basketball field, and a lovely street art wall. In fact, this park even had an actual mini golf course - with such a creative design, too. Unfortunately, the course got worn out over time and taken down recently and there’s nothing left of it, but a memory. 


Impressive courtyard hidden between the building blocks. Have you visited it?

♬ Playground (from the series Arcane League of Legends) - Bea Miller

Park in Šubićeva

Weller garden

Centrally located Petrinjska and Palmotićeva Street are interconnected thanks to the so-called Weller Garden, or sometimes simply Velerov. Gustav Adolf Weller was a 19th-century architect who built several buildings in the neighbourhood. This entire block is incredibly maintained and makes for a proper hideout. Just be careful not to meet any of Velerovci - that’s how they used to call the group of adolescents that hanged within the block. Some decades ago, they were a cool and inspiring crew. Then, at other times, there was an intimidating vibe surrounding their gang name. Velerovci and similar groups of teenagers that hanged in their neighbourhood playgrounds, used to form a part of growing up in the center of Zagreb.

The word garden in its name suits the area as the residents still embellish it with charming details.

Passage between Ilica and Dalmatinska Street

I was saving the best for last. There is a passage with an access from the busy Ilica street. This particular passage hides so many conveniences. A small gazebo, and some benches all around for a proper rest. A ping-pong table and a basketball field for the activities. Plus, it is surrounded by a bar and a restaurant! This is every young parent’s favourite place (if they know about it) - you are in the middle of the city, but your children are safe playing in a quiet park while you enjoy a cup of coffee. 

The entrance to the passage is through the building that used to be owned by architects Hönigsberg and Deutsch. A lot of the Zagreb architecture you’ve been admiring along your way was designed in their studio right on that spot. 

Why bother picking up your kids' toys when you’re coming back tomorrow?

This painted fence hides a well-known pub.

As you can see, the areas inside the blocks are true revelations. Zagreb is a city with back doors into hidden worlds, and no matter how much you love to explore it, discovering Zagreb never ends.

This old pump was turned into the iconic Zagreb sight - the Lotrščak tower - by a street-art collective Pimp My Pump

You would be surprised how many playgrounds hide within blocks around the town. If playgrounds are not there, the kids will turn their block into a playground either way.

This is still a common sight in the privacy of the blocks.

Author: Iva Silla