Untold Stories

Zagreb Treasure Hunts

If you like to have a goal when exploring, if you love a little challenge or even a competition, Zagreb is the place for you! The city offers numerous self-guided adventures that motivate you to collect places you visit, parts of a playful, themed route. In fact, if you like such explorations, it will be hard for you to choose which imaginative project to start with.

Let me help... or maybe complicate your choice even more? I would start with the classics. The first one is an urban installation commonly referred to as Zagreb Solar System, even though the actual name of this artistic space adventure is Nine Views. Artist Davor Preis built a scale model of the solar system around the existing sculpture called Grounded Sun by a great Croatian sculptor Ivan Kožarić. All the planets are proportional in both size and distance to the actual Sun and planets. This means that the search for the planets will take you to some parts far from the usual tourist routes. Discovering them can be very rewarding.

Grounded Sun sculpture in Bogovićeva street inspired the creation of the scale model of Solar System

This project has a life of its own - that's what I love about it. It keeps getting rediscovered. It took years for the public to really know that the project even existed. It has been so interactive and enigmatic because citizens started noticing the planets before they knew about the project. People used to get together in person or online, to calculate and figure out the locations of each planet. No need to go through all that since you can easily google their locations. Although, that could be an idea for a pro-level challenge.

When you get to the exact location, it will take some patience and careful observing to spot the planet

Another absolute classic is Zagreb Before Zagreb / Zagreb dok ga još ni bilo. Today, there is nothing more popular than bringing museums out to the public. Well, a few decades ago, such a concept was so ahead of time that many Zagrebers still haven't found out about this project. I don’t think that the public realized the genius of this project back then. Natural History Museum and the Archeology Museum in Zagreb have joined forces and backed the team of authors in their idea. They placed replicas of artifacts from the times before Zagreb was founded, discovered in different parts of nowadays Zagreb, right on the spots where they were found.  Search for prehistoric animals or Roman remains scattered around the city can make for such a wonderful educational activity.  An activity full of surprising findings that will stir understanding about the abundance and diversity of history on this soil. Since both museums are currently under renovation, this can be a satisfying alternative to visiting them.

I already shared my fascination with Zagreb Before Zagreb in Valentine’s special post called Zagreb Love Tales 

Speaking about educational and meaningful quests, the most emotional one is looking for Stolpersteine or stepping stones. It’s an international project that commemorates the victims of nazism. Around 75 000 people are being remembered across Europe with a small plaque, usually placed in front of their homes. A walk through Zagreb in search of the golden marks will definitely make you contemplate deeply. At the moment, there are 20 stepping stones. You can locate them with the help of a map on the official website

The first Stolperstein in Zagreb was placed in October 2020 in front of the home of Lea Deutsch who was only 16 when she died on a train that was supposed to take her to Auschwitz back in 1943

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about Pimp My Pump. Finding the artistically refurnished water pumps has been a challenge ever since they started popping up around the city a decade ago. Now, they even come with an accompanying map that will help you navigate the city while you’re looking for the pumps.

Colourful water pump at the Budek Lake

This brings us to the tourism zone. Some quests were deliberately packed into a tourism product. This uncertain time made a lot of us rethink how can we help people explore the city.I I am one of these rethinkers, both as a passionate user of such quests and as their designer, too. You can try my Ghosts & Dragons Quest that works as a free self-guided tour with rather challenging riddles.

Immersed in riddles, trying to solve the Ghosts & Dragons Quest

A project called Little Zagreb would probably win the title of the Quest of the Year if there was such a title. Dozens of charming miniature installations that resemble the frontages of Zagreb buildings are placed all over the town. You know how they always tell you to look up not to miss any details? Well, these days in Zagreb, we say - look down! You might spot the details of Little Zagreb. I walk around the city a lot, and I’ve seen so many people walking around with maps, completely drawn in the search for the little discoveries. Or others, who notice them accidentally, totally surprised. Dozens of small installations are placed in the city, thrilling both their deliberate and accidental discoverers.

Searching for Little Zagreb is a lot of fun

Now, that is a lot of amazing projects that bring out the explorers in us! These are just the scavenger hunts that are out there, absolutely free for anyone to use. There are plenty of other treasures in Zagreb, but some of these ideas can be a great start for your perfect Zagreb treasure hunt. Really, where do you start? Pass by the Visitor Center at the main square, pick up printed maps for some of these adventures, and off you go! Happy exploring!

Photos by: Iva Silla

Author: Iva Silla