What about our Hero?
Park Zrinjevac and its home square are both named after Croatian historical hero Nikola Subic Zrinski. Zrinski was of great importance for entire Europe for his successes against the Turks. The square was named in honour of Zrinski some 150 years ago, when Zagreb celebrated 300 years from his death on battlefield.
It had long been planned to erect a unique and exquisite statue of the hero Zrinski. One of the luxurious suggestions was to make a magnificent fountain with sculptured details of Croatian history and, rising above it, golden Zrinski with his mighty sword. The idea of honouring Zrinski right there, on what was once the most popular meeting spot in Zagreb, was truly persistent and it survived decades. Okay, sometimes it got replaced by other unrealized projects like placing the golden sculpture of the Holy Mother in the middle of the park. In the end, that particular statue got on top of the obelisk in front of the Cathedral. Many agree it’s better that way because Zrinjevac got to preserve its secular looks.
Another serious plan was placing busts of Croatian influential persons throughout the park, but only a small part of that project was realized. All there is to it is a semicircle of 7 busts on the southern part of the square.
Our Nikola Subic Zrinski didn’t even gain his place among the seven men. Although it was only a matter of how his reminiscence should look like, and not if it was going to be erected at all, he never got a physical remembrance.
But looking at the park today, we can’t help but enjoy the harmony that would probably only be invaded by an oversized statue. Instead, Zrinjevac is filled with other charming features, such as young lovers finding their refugee on benches only a few meters away from the busiest streets of Zagreb, cheerful dogs running around the park, people on grass fields caressed by sun rays or children playing in the pavilion where once the brass band used to play. It is hard to imagine any sculpture, whether it’s made of gold or covered in diamonds, that would be able to celebrate a nation’s hero in such way the living spirit of its square has continued to do for almost 140 years.