This running tour is ideal for runners who are in reasonable shape and want to experience the spirit of Zagreb and its architecture through history. It is also a tour for those who love to run while being surrounded by Zagreb sites all along the 21km running route.
Throughout history, Zagreb was a geographical, cultural, historical and political intersection of the East and West, and therefore it offers a fusion of the continental and Mediterranean spirit. All through the tour, runners experience Zagreb architecture: since the first written record in 1094, when the city was founded, up to the end of the 19th century when the city witnessed the most significant urban planning in the history of Croatian architecture and all the way to the second half of the 20th century when Zagreb started with new developments in urban planning based on the model of Le Corbusier and socialist realism. Zagreb offers an eclectic mix of styles and interesting sights for the runner to take in.
On this tour, runners enjoy the most significant sights, buildings and parks, but we also pass by hidden gems, including a residential building in Laginjina Street, the astonishing Mirogoj Cemetery and a residential area built after World War II of twenty villas in Novakova Street – the finest example of modern housing from the 1930s, which although located in the very centre of the city, is still a quiet and green oasis.
After moving further from the centre, the runners reach Vukovarska Street that represents the best example of post-war planning in the 1950s. The influences that shaped the post-war architecture of Croatia, as well as Vukovarska Street are dichotomous: on the one hand, there is Le Corbusier’s theory of housing, contrasted by the newly formed direction of socialist realism. The name Vukovarska Street hails from the town of Vukovar, which is most noted for its tragic fate during the Homeland war in the early 1990’s and is often called “The Hero Town”. It is the only town in Europe since World War II that was completely devastated. Just off Vukovarska Street, is the building of the National and University Library overlooking the Zagreb Fountains – dubbed Bandić’s fountains among locals, as it was mayor Bandić’s idea to build them. Zagreb Fountains are also unique due to the fact that they are the venue of the spectacular event during IAAF Hanžeković Memorial – the world’s best shot putter competition.
The running tour continues towards master-pieces of socialist urban architecture in Novi Zagreb (or New Zagreb), part of the city that witnessed a new construction boom after the 1950s demanded by the constant increase in population.
Also, on this tour runners cross the River Sava and its banks that were built in the 1960s after the flood. The banks represent one of the most popular running routes in town today. On the banks of the River Sava runners see the former Headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Socialist Republic of Croatia during the Yugoslav era – the complex is known as “Kockica” or “the Cube”, and nowadays it houses the Ministry of Tourism, and its interior is equipped with the works of some of the most prominent visual artists of that time, such as one of my favourites – Edo Murtić.
As the running tour through Novi Zagreb continues, runners see Lake Bundek that has become the place for holding numerous concerts and events; then we pass the Museum of Contemporary Arts or just MSU – which hosts numerous exhibitions and events including Zagreb Film Festival, Summer in MSU, and many other events worth attending. We will also pass through one of the neighbourhoods built in the era of socialist realism where we get a first-hand glimpse of how the locals live, and we experience the building concept from a close distance.
Although many of the city’s restaurants are located in downtown, on this route we will pass by a few of my favourite bars and restaurants.
This half marathon suits both intermediate and advanced runners, and it can be used as a marathon training without having any photo and selfie-taking stops. Up to you.