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Zagreb: City in Transformation

So I have heard the requests. You have seen enough buildings, birds, flowers, abstracts, waterfalls, sunsets and so on. Now it is time for a people-report! “We want to see how a city feels like from the viewpoint of those who live there. We want people-photos!” So I have heard, and so I thought myself too. It is time for something more indept.

Therefore I made a photo-essay about Zagreb, its life from the inside: how the city breathes, how the people think and what is going on over there. I discovered it is very much a city in transformation, a city full of life, with people who are not having it easy but who remain positive and smiling.

You can find a series of photos with the article called “Exploring Cosy Zagreb, a Changing City” at the homepage for JPG Magazine. The list of all photos you can find at my profile. And do not hesitate to leave your feedback, remarks or your comments here.

Urban Exploring in Zagreb

Exploring Zagreb

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.

Social-Cultural Shock

Fifty-six cents was the fee at the border with Croatia but no change was given. “Welcome to the Balkan”, said my Slovenian driver as a response.  He had picked me up from a gas-station ten minutes before and was used to the toll-worker not giving him back the change. My driver is a pizza-maker who “knows people here very well” and whose only interest in me is the price of drugs in Amsterdam and Barcelona.

So I finally made it to the Balkan. Slovenia was already a beginning but now I really have the feeling I arrived in a country where culture seems to be very different to what I am used to. People look different, they talk different, interact different, and so on. After a tough hitchhiking day, this was quite something I had to get used to. Continue reading

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