The Botanical Garden may not sound like the most exciting spot to visit in Zagreb, but it’s a lovely patch of greenery, and it’s on your way if you are exploring the so-called Green Horseshoe or Lenuci Horseshoe, a U-shaped system of green areas surrounding the very heart of downtown, conceived in the late 19th century as a basis for Zagreb’s urban development.
The garden was founded in 1889, and since 1946 it’s been a part of Zagreb’s Faculty of Science. In 1971 it became a protected monument of nature and culture. The arboretum is arranged freely (in English landscape style), while the flower parterre is strictly geometrical (in French style). But my personal favourites are a picturesque artificial lake and a section with indigenous Croatian plants – which are unusually numerous and diverse, because Croatia, however small, stretches both into the Mediterranean and the continental zones.
It’s worth mentioning the art-nouveau head office house (former head gardener’s house), a valuable 19th century exhibition pavilion, the greenhouse with exotic plants, a public toilet (a representative example of a public utility from the late 19th century) and the lovely little gazebo.
I love to come here to read a book and rest from the city noise, or to enjoy some of the special events organized in summer, like e. g. “Biljke i svirke” (“Plants and performing”) – when the whole garden becomes a music stage with official concerts as well as spontaneous performances of all who feel inspired to make music among the plants.