Sometimes you come to places with a touch of magic. Take Zagreb for instance. Here it feels, above everything, really cosy. It’s a city of one million but it feels as a town with its picturesque medieval center, lively markets and friendliness everywhere. There are no big touristic attractions and not many tourists either, so overcrowded places are hard to find.
There is a lot of beauty in this place but it is also very much a transitional city. Croatia has a war-past and is currently in a process of moving from a post-communist country to a country that mainly based on consumerism. A lot of the city is broken down, houses are waiting to be renovated or to be destroyed. Housing-speculation is very populair which also leaves a lot of space for urban exploration.
Housing speculation is something you can expect, but I was quite shocked to find out that many houses in the direct city center are completely abandoned or stripped with only a facade remaining.
One of the main streets of this city you see here on the left. This street is full with nice terraces and little shops. Directly on the right there is a house with only a facade, then a little park, and yet another abandoned house. This house I entered and what I saw was pretty amazing. It was dusty, old, broken-down, stinky, etc. But in itself as beautifull as it can be (see the photo above).
All Zagreb can hope for is that its beauty will not be sold and transformed into a big shopping mall. Some parts of the old town were destroyed during the communist regime, the question now is whether the other parts will remain the same.
Already the city council has big plans for more designated shopping area and malls in the city. Owners of the houses therefore rather have a rotten house without inhabitants, which can easily be destroyed, then having to renovate their house. Money can buy a lot of destruction apparantly.
I uploaded some more photos on my flickr account. Please find here a slide-show of the photos. Additional ones will be uploaded shortly. A preview of another set of photos on Zagreb, that will accompany a photo-essay, can be found here.