Although tourists mostly spend their time in the centre of Zagreb, there’s a lot to discover in the other neighbourhoods as well. More often than not, it’s not just about the bars and restaurants. You get to know a town just by walking around.
Not too long ago, my family moved to a little house with a garden in Trnje. Croatian people found our decision to move there unusual. Firstly, Croatians prefer living in apartment blocks rather than in houses, and secondly, Trnje as a neighbourhood has a bad reputation amongst the people of Zagreb.
If you think about the neighbourhood’s history, that’s not surprising. Trnje developed in the mid 19th century when poor people from all over Croatia came looking for work in Zagreb. They started building houses south of the city centre, close to the river, rapidly, (mostly) illegally, completely randomly and without any planning.
Today this is exactly what I think makes the neighbourhood unique and inspiring. Every house is a different size, different in style and in a different stage of renovation: from the ones which are literally falling apart, to the renovated mansions with impeccable gardens. They all stand side-by-side, forgotten by the rest of the city, there for the accidental passers-by to discover.
Start your walk at the main train station towards the river Sava, continue down the tiny streets of Trnje and be transported to a parallel universe. You can thank me later, in the credits of your newly published, Zagreb-inspired, poetry book.