Damjanović, Dragan

Shaping of Zagreb into Croatian National Capital – Aestheticization and Croatisation of the Historical City Core in the Long 19th Century / Damjanović, Dragan. - 23-23 str.

In the 19th century Zagreb developed into the main Croatian national center whose number of people grew tenfold and amounted to 80000. The city was formed as a single administrative unit in the mid-19th century through the amalgamation of several settlements of which most important were Kaptol, mostly owned by institutions associated with the Catholic Church, and Gradec, inhabited by aristocrats and bourgeois families. The Lower Town that had begun to develop south of Kaptol and Gradec, took on the role of the city’s new economic and cultural center. Nevertheless, old city core underwent considerable transformation in the course of the 19th century. The urban transformation that occurred in the first half of the 19th century was mostly influenced by Emperor Joseph II’s reforms, especially secularization of church estates. The process was most evident in Gradec where monasteries and chapels were replaced by residential and public buildings. Parts of Gradec medieval fortifications that had long lost their defense purpose were also rebuilt or transformed into public green areas. Although Gradec and Kaptol kept their prestigious roles as the centers of public and church institutions, architectural activities in these old districts were far less frequent than in Lower Town. The wish to encourage the development of Kaptol and Gradec by establishing better traffic connection with other parts of the city, led to the removal of all but one of the fortified city gates. The decision to remove the last one (Stone Gate) evoked in the 1870s disapproval among the intellectual elite of Zagreb, which advocated monument protection and preservation of urban imagery and memory. Additionally, there was a rising interest in the aestheticization of the city in general, as well as a form of Croatisation or placing a national imprint on the city’s image. This urge was underpinned by a strong earthquake which had hit Zagreb in 1880 damaging a great number of buildings. The majority of medieval and Baroque churches (cathedral, St. Mark’s, Franciscan and Jesuit church) and some residential buildings (archbishopric residence) were restored based on the concept of stylistic restorations. Furthermore, a number of public buildings in Gradec, which housed key Croatian autonomous political institutions, were either renovated or built anew. The Ministry of Culture and Education was moved into an older Classicist palace, subsequently completely rebuilt, while the Interior Ministry and Parliament building was built in the center of Gradec on the site of mostly Baroque two-storey houses. The wish to renovate old buildings went hand in hand with the tendencies for making corrections in the urban fabric, especially in Kaptol. Many buildings and parts of surviving fortifications were removed in order to open views towards the cathedral. The early 20th-century tearing down of parts of the fortified archdiocesan complex turned Zagreb into a real battleground between supporters of monument protection and those who advocated radical renewal and adaptation of older city areas to modern living needs. This presentation will focus on the impact of political circumstances, legal measures, social and economic changes and national ideologies on the transformation of the old parts of Zagreb in the long 19th century.


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