Ban-Jelačić Square

statue et place Jelacic à Zagreb
square with the statue of the hero Jelacic

A 100-meter-long pedestrian square in the heart of Zagreb is surrounded by colorful buildings: the Ban-Jelačić Square. The square is gridded on the ground and embellished with a fountain and a sculpture of the military man Jelačić. The square is officially named Trg bana Jelačića (Republic Square) and is known to all as Ban-Jelačić Square.

Republic Square

This is where large gatherings for the people of Zagreb take place, but also where people meet with friends: they get together “under the tail” (of the statue’s horse).

In the winter, there is a Christmas tree and festive decorations. The streetcar passes by the square and stores are located all around it. The Ban-Jelačić square is also the starting point for many tourist visits.

The square was built in the 17th century and was originally called Harmica (from the Hungarian word for “customs”). It is located just south of the Dolac market, not far from the Zagreb Cathedral. The surrounding buildings are very colorful and of various styles. The oldest one dates back to 1827. In 1880, a big earthquake destroyed many of the houses in the neighborhood, and the old small two-story houses are now replaced by taller buildings.

The Jelačić statue

The statue of Ban Josip Jelačić is the square’s main attraction. Created by Austrian sculptor Anton Dominick Ritter von Fernkorn, it depicts Viceroy (that’s what “ban” means) Josip Jelačić Bužimski, who ruled Croatia from his 18th birthday in 1819 until his death in 1859. He is shown riding a feisty horse, in full regalia, holding his sword in his right hand.

The statue was inaugurated in 1866, but it had several setbacks. The statue was removed in 1947 by the communist government of the time, after being imposed by Austria and criticized by both the Zagreb city council and the Hungarians. The statue was eventually reinstalled in 1990, but this time it was pointing to the south. Josip Jelačić is considered by Croats to be a national hero who worked for the country’s independence by organizing the first elections.

Manduševac Fountain

On the other side of the square, the Manduševac Fountain is fed by the underground streams running through the capital. The water source has been there since ancient times. The fountain was buried during the first restoration of the square in 1898. It was only restored in 1968, during new construction work on the square.

According to the legend, the origin of the name Zagreb comes from the Manduševac spring. In the past centuries, a young girl named Manda had to draw water for a warlord. Drawing water is called “zagrabi” in Croatian, so this is where the spring of Manda (Manduševac) sprang up and where the city of Zagreb was built. Throwing a coin in the fountain brings good luck to those who make a wish…