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A Brief History of Zagreb

Today's Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements that for centuries developed on neighbouring hills. The first written mention of the city dates from 1094, when a diocese was founded on Kaptol, while in 1242, neighbouring Gradec was proclaimed a free and royal city. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers, remains of which are still preserved.


During the Turkish onslaughts on Europe, between the 14th and 18th centuries, Zagreb was an important border fortress. The Baroque reconstruction of the city in the 17th and 18th centuries changed the appearance of the city. The old wooden houses were demolished, opulent palaces, monasteries and churches were built. The many trade fairs, the revenues from landed estates and the offerings of the many craft workshops greatly contributed to the wealth of the city.


Affluent aristocratic families, royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from the whole of Europe moved into the city. Schools and hospitals were opened, and the manners of European capitals were adopted. The city outgrew its medieval borders and spread to the lowlands. The first parks and country houses were built. Zagreb confirmed its position as the administrative, cultural and economic centre of Croatia.

When Kaptol, Gradec and the surrounding settlements were administratively combined into the integrated city of Zagreb in 1850, the development accelerated still more. The disastrous earthquake of 1880 sparked off the reconstruction and modernization of many shabby neighbourhoods and buildings. Prestigious public buildings were erected, parks and fountains were made, and transportation and other infrastructures were organized.

In the 19th century the population increased tenfold. The twentieth century brought the Secession style to Zagreb. The city lived in the plenty of a civil society, with firm links with all the central European centres. With an increase in wealth and industry from the 1960s on, the city spread out over the wide plains alongside the Sava River, where a new, contemporary business city has develop.


Overview of Important Historical Events
ca 600 AD Decline of the ancient Roman settlement of Scitarjevo (Andautonia). Arrival of the Croats. The earliest evidence of their existence in this area are the graves on Visoki Brijeg in Velika Gorica.
879. Lands between Sava and the Drava, and thus the Zagreb area, became part of the Croatian state of King Tomislav, who was crowned in 925 as the first Croatian King.
1094. The Hungarian King Ladislas establishes the Zagreb Diocese.
1134. Issue of Felicianus' Charter mentioning the founder of the Diocese, King Ladislas, the first bishop of, Zagreb Bishop Duh, and the other clergy.
1217. Finishing and consecration of the principal church cathedral, largely destroyed in 1242 by the Tatars.
1242. The Croatian-Hungarian King Bela IV grants the Golden Bull to Gradec, as a token of appreciation for the citizens who provided him shelter during the Tatarian invasion.
1355. Mention of the first pharmacy in Zagreb.
1557. Another threat to the city - Turkish invasions. The first mention of Zagreb as the capital of Croatia.
1607. Foundation of the Jesuit gymnasium with six forums.
1624. A great fire caused by a thunderbolt catches the wooden roof of the principal church. Great fires were quite frequent before the use of bricks as building material.
1664. Foundation of the first printing house by the Jesuits.
1669. The Croatian-Hungarian King Leopold I grants the right to the Royal Academy to be transformed into a university.
1767. The Royal Council designates Varaždin as its temporary seat.
1771. The first weekly in Latin published in Zagreb - Ephemerides Zagrebienses.
1776. The government seat relocated from Varazdin to Zagreb.
1834. The first permanent theatre in Zagreb opens on the southern side of St. Mark's Square.
1850. Zagreb becomes a single administrative unit. The first major of the city is Josip Kamauf, former magistrate of Gradec.
1862. Opening of the first railway line, Zidani Most-Zagreb-Sisak.
1880. A severe earthquake strikes the area of Zagreb.
1891. The first horse-drawn tram in the streets of Zagreb. First electric driven tram was in service in 1905.
1896. The first film projection in Zagreb.
1901. The first automobile on the streets of Zagreb.
1909. The first trade exhibition - Economic Convention ("Gospodarski zbor").
1926. The first radio station starts broadcasting (also the first in this part of Europe).
1956. The first broadcast of Zagreb television.
1957. Construction of new housing blocks starts on the southern bank of the Sava river.
1964. A raging flood strikes Zagreb in the night between October 24 and 25. In the most difficult flood ever, several thousand homes are badly damaged.
1979. Tram lines cross the Sava river.
1987. The University Games take place in Zagreb.
1990. The first session of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) after the first free, democratic, multi-party elections take place on May 30.