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Spatial and Functional Development

of the Park “Ribnjak” in Zagreb



·        School: School of Arts and Crafts, Trg maršala Tita 11, Zagreb

·        Pupils: Marija Juza, Marcella Kovačević, Andrea Nardi,  Gordana Pavlek, Vlatka Terzić

       Teacher-advisor: Mirjana Škarica-Ivanović

·        Advisor: Borna Fuerst-Bjeliš, PhD, associate professor,   Department of Geography, Faculty of Science



 The park Ribnjak was figured out and realised by the contemporary Zagreb bishop Aleksandar Alagović according to the project of Leopold Klingspogle. By the middle of the 19th century the public garden was transformed, and at the end of the century reduced because of the street construction. In 1964 it was renewed and transformed again according to the project of the architect Zvonimir Frohlich.



Research purpose

The research purpose is to reconstruct the primary location and spatial coverage of the park Ribnjak, as well as its further spatial and functional development. Its purpose, i. e. function, changed with its spatial changes and transformations, as well as with the simultaneous spatial and functional development of the Zagreb City. Another equally important purpose is to encourage the citizens to preserve and renew the park Ribnjak, which looks so degraded today that it is not even a shadow of what envisaged and realised the Zagreb bishop A. Alagović in the 19th century.


Research methods

 Using archival cartographic materials (maps and plans) we have defined the precise location and spatial coverage of the former public garden. Comparing several different sources from various periods, it is possible to reconstruct the park’s spatial development in the framework of the city area’s spatial changes. The research results, i. e. stages of the park’s spatial development, will be presented in maps.


Research results


 Mediaeval illustration of Kaptol and the present-day park Ribnjak according to the plan of I. K. Tkalčić in the 14th century. Today’s location was covered by a unique water surface in the northern part of the city.


1)        Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery; 3) Water surfaces (a, b, c)



 Illustration of the present-day park according to the plans of Nikola Angielini (Italian military architect) from the 16th century. It seems that two larger lakes were independent water surfaces separated by a piece of land, while there was either a bridge or a dam between the southernmost lake and the middle one. The lakes served as fish farms for the needs of the church. After building of defensive walls around Kaptol a trench was dug up to defend the entrance to the fortress. Digging of the trench and building of the bridge across the lake were the first interventions in the area of the present-day park.


1)        Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery; 3) Water surfaces; 4) Stream



The area of the present-day park was built in the 18th century for personal use of the emperor Joseph II. Two fishponds were represented: the northern one – smaller, and the southern one - larger in the neglected area.



 The area of the present-day public park according to the land survey of the surveyor J. Gigla in 1806. It was worked out on the encouragement of the bishop of Vrhovec and citizens who wanted to renew Ribnjak. Besides the sketches, the lakes’ measures were also signed in: the northern fishpond had the area of 7,052.40 square metres, the middle one 10,684.80, and the southern one 6,465.60 square metres. 


1)        Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery; 3) Water surfaces; 4) Stream; 5) Dam.



 In 1813, eng L. Domitrović made the land survey. According to him, the fishponds were larger than on the previous survey. The smaller surface of the northern fishpond was prominent on the illustration. In that time, it had the role of strengthening the dam.



 The area of the today’s public park according to Mihovil Kunić’s description. Before the bishop Alagović (1829-1897) started his action of creating a public park, Kunić had described it as a disgrace and danger to health of the bishops and neighbouring common people. In summer, the fishponds ran dry and became moist land, and for many months, they were small lakes.


1)     Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery, 3) the area of the present-day Lang’s Square (Langov trg)



 Cadastral survey from 1862-1964 is the only one that still in some measure represents the idea of the bishop Alagović and designer L. Klingspogle. The public park was arranged as an English park with running water, decorative statues, plants and fountains, but after Alagović’s death, it became neglected again. In 1870, at the citizens’ request, the remaining part of the southern lake was dried up. The project of a new city square was envisaged at that place (today: Langov trg).



 According to the new cadastral survey from 1909/1913 the public park was divided into two parts. Its area was originally enclosed by a wooden fence, but in time, a wall was constructed, which separated the park and canonical gardens from the street.


1)     Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery



 The presentation of the southern public park from 1909/1913. That part was directly connected with the archiepiscopal palace, so one can assume that it was private. 



 In 1946, the architect Zvonimir Frohlich worked out a project of widening and rearranging of the old archiepiscopal public park. He tried to connect the new part on the plots of the former canons’ gardens with the public park’s old core.


1)       Cathedral; 2) Franciscan church and monastery; 3) Langov trg



 The presentation of the public park Ribnjak according to the cadastral survey from 1968. The area of the previous Archiepiscopal and today’s Lang,s Square?



The area of the park Ribnjak according to the regulation basis of the Zagreb City from 1889. The public park was completely rearranged and lessened because of the street construction.



The medieval area of the present-day park Ribnjak was covered with a water surface located on the marshland in the north-eastern side of Kaptol. In the 15th century, with first interventions – trench digging and bridge building – it got a defensive function in the fortification system of the Zagreb City. The water surface function and look changed with urbanisation, but its area remained neglected until 1830. After its defensive function had lost importance, the water surface mainly served for irrigation of the surrounding terrains, as well as for fish farming and dam strengthening. In 1830, there was an intervention of the bishop Alagović and  designer Klingspogle, which completely changed the features and functions of the area. Alagović transformed the neglected fishponds into a modern park with a fountain, decorating statues and exotic plants. It had all characteristics of a modern English park. After Alagović’s death, the public park suffered in bad weather and became completely neglected.

In 1870, the remaining pond was dried up at the citizens’ request, and the present-day Lang’s Square emerged at that spot.

At the end of the 19th century, the stream was filled up and the Ribnjak street widened, so the park area was lessened because of the street construction.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the public park was divided into two parts (northern and southern), which served for the needs of the church until the period after the World War II, when the park was a little widened and opened for the public.

In 1949, the architect Z. Frohlich worked out the project of widening and changing of the old public park, and the intervention mainly dealt with construction of various institutions around the park, as well as with connecting the canon’s gardens with the park core.

Comparing and analysing the cartographic presentation of the present-day park Ribnjak we have conceived his complete spatial and functional transformation from the medieval period to the present time. That area has kept its original location, but therefore experienced a lot of functional-aesthetic interventions. With urbanisation and widening of Zagreb the present-day park area accommodated itself to the city’s prosperity and agglomeration, as well as to the needs of its citizens. The park reached its peak in the time of the bishop Alagović. 130 years have passed since, and the park had to develop more with the prosperity of its surroundings. But nowadays, after so much time and with all skills and knowledge we dispose of, that public park in the centre of the Zagreb City declines and is more and more neglected on the part of its citizens. A paradox fact is that the stage of human progress is in inverse proportion with the care of the environment. Therefore, besides the presentation of the park Ribnjak’s development through history, we also wanted to point out another essential guideline of this project: to make the citizens  renew and preserve the present-day park, because it is not only a place for amusement and recreation, but  reminds us of the past as well, and represents a part of pure nature located in the “heart” of the city.  


Sources and references:

Cartographic material (maps and plans) of the Zagreb Municipal Museum, Opatička 12

Gostl, Igor: Zagrebački perivoji i promenade (Zagreb gardens and promenades)

Marinović-Uzelac, A. (1986): Naselja, gradovi i prostori, Tehnička knjiga, Zagreb (Settlements, cities and areas)

Timet, T. (1961): Stambena izgradnja Zagreba do 1954. godine, Ekonomsko-historijska analiza, Građa za gospodarsku povijest Hrvatske , knj. 10, JAZU, Zagreb (Housing construction of Zagreb until 1954, Economic-historical analysis, Material for economic history of Croatia, book 10, Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb).

Vresk, M. (1996): Funkcionalna struktura i funkcionalna klasifikacija gradova Hrvatske, Geografski glasnik 58, Zagreb (The Functional Structure and the Functional Classification of Cities and Towns in Croatia, Geographical Bulletin 58, Zagreb).

Zagreb na geodetsko-katastarskim zemljovidima i u zemljišnim knjigama, Zagreb, 1994.

Zagreb on geodetic-cadastral maps and in land registers, Zagreb, 1994.



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