Radićeva street in Zagreb it is street where I grew up. In the past it was called Duga ulica which means Long Street and people who visited Zagreb know what I am talking about. Today it is officially called Ulica Pavla Radića, but nobody uses that name. Together with Tkalčićeva Street it is the most know street in Zagreb. In the past Tkalčićeva Street was a river dividing two cities for centuries. It was a natural border between Kaptol and Gradec and Radićeva Street was the only way entering Free Royal city of Gradec through Stone gate.
Anyway let’s get back to Radićeva street and number 32. This white three store tall building on the left hand side is my building, my pride and joy. On the right hand side you can see Stone gate and St. George monument in front. My grandfather got a small apartment with only 3 rooms on the second floor just after the Second World War in 1947 and it is still in the family. I was going to move their in a month or so but due to the earthquake I don’t know now, well at least until it is renewed.
Originally this house was built by a noble family Dömöterffy in 1814 – 1815. Mr. Gregorije Demetrović (Dömöterffy) was a wealthy trader and he gave a task to Bartol Felbinger famous architect in 19th century to build a building. In year of 1814. Zagreb had never had such a building before. I guess the budget was not an issue since he didn’t built just a house, he built a piece of art in classicist style. At that time classicism was the main artistic movement that encompasses time from end of 18th century until middle of 19th century.
Classicism represents elegance, straight lines which are inspired by ancient Greece and Rome architecture which can be seen with emphasized the Corinthian columns and pediments showing mermaids with wings I call them angels but they are actually called melusina a mythical creature symbolising a female spirit of fresh water in a sacred spring or river. All in all classicism as a style creates harmony and a sense of greatness.
About 200 years ago, house was bought by Mrs. Harieta and Juraj Filipović and their granddaughter Slađana stil lives there. Her grandfather was a president of a First Croatian Bank located on number 30 where my grandmother’s best friend lived and whose daughter is my Godmother. After the war all private buildings and estates where nationalised and Slađana’s parents only inherited one part of the house and the rest was dived to future owners, and this is how we got our part.
Nevertheless, let’s go back to 19th century. In the beginning of the 1830, a group of young Croatian writers initially led by Ljudevit Gaj gathered in Zagreb and founded a political campaign called Croatian National Movement or Illyrian movement that changed Croatian history forever. At that time Croatia was under Hapsburgs Monarchy.
The ultimate political-national purpose was to renewal and unity of all South Slavs within the monarchy through linguistic, culture and ethnic unity. They didn’t fought with guns, their weapon was intellect. Ljudevit Gaj proposed the creation of one literal language for all Croats and unify all Croatian population and Croatian lands and that was a revolutionary act at that time.
Ljudevit Gaj the same year also asked the Habsburg authorities for the permission to print Croatian national newspaper and the same year he wrote a song “Horvatov sloga zjedinjenje”, which in the following years became, in fact, a Croatian anthem. “Još Horvatska ni propala, dok mi živimo.”
At that time Zagreb had become an important center of political, economic, and cultural activity, so it was the center of the movement and Ljudevit Gaj chose our building to be his home.
On the first floor they had library for all members of the Movement, on the second floor he had bedrooms, and three out of seven windows, are mine and in the basement they had a printing factory where the most famous Illyrian newspaper Matica Hrvatska was printed. After they moved to Opatička street in Upper town.
I am very proud of the inheritance and our tinny little treasure is located in the most beautiful part of Zagreb. Being a tour guide I tell my guest all stories about growing up in the center of the center as my daughter would say. Not many guides can say such stories like this. We use to sledge from stone gate to wherever we could, we played hide and seek in the Stone gate and we had not an idea or a clue how important they are, how old they are including the wall were we set on a bench. We use to roller-skate down to the Main Square and I still wander how we stayed alive. In the summer we use to swim in the fountain in Gradec and so much more.
Unfortunately building severely suffered in earthquake on 22.03.2020. From the outside it is still a pretty lady (tenants are still paying for the facade) but inside walls and staircases are cracked all over. One section of the roof has been destroyed and chimneys as well. In side of our flat it’s hard to tell as we are just renovating, so all the walls and ceiling is under plaster. But next door neighbours flats are pretty damaged.
As I said I planned to move there with my daughter and we were really looking forward to it. The location for a tour guide cannot be any better. My mum spend a lot already for renovation but now after the earthquake I don’t know. All I can say thank God we didn’t invested more. I hope government will see the importance but we are not the priority and I guess tenants will have to cover all the cost and I am afraid to even ask how much would we need for the repairmen’s. What I am afraid of that people will just repair their flats, make it pretty again but nobody will think about the most important bit and that is the load-bearing capacity of the building, statics and ability will it survive if we have another big one or it will crumble like a tower of cards 🙁