Square Reconstruction Ends in Controversy

Total Croatia News

Removal of trees from a square causes protests.

“A pavilion on a lawn in the middle of a square” – that was how Croatian artist Ivan Meštrović wanted the square to look like when the construction of his pavilion on today’s Square of Victims of Fascism in Zagreb began in 1934, reports Večernji List on October 8, 2018.

Had Meštrović knew that eighty years later, the implementation of his wish would cause so much dissatisfaction and scorn among citizens, perhaps he would be more careful in expressing his wishes. However, although his wish has been fulfilled, because his pavilion now looks exactly like that, the controversies have not ended with the reconstruction.

“I have been living next to the pavilion for the last half century and this is a disaster. The pavilion never looked so ugly. There have always been wonderful plants, magnolias, cypress and other trees, but this is now a desert with only the sheep missing,” said Nada Drljan.

The loudest opponent of what they say is “culture murder” is definitely the Restore Magnolias initiative. It described the newly-renovated square as “barren, sterile and soulless.”

The opinion is shared by dog owners whose four-legged friends are now forbidden to access the lawn. “They could have put at least one other sign that dogs have no access here because one sign every two metres is not enough,” said Ana Veldiš sarcastically.

There are so many signs that it seems they have replaced all the removed trees. For many citizens, the new rules are an even worse insult than the removal of trees. It was their favourite place and the only one in the neighbourhood where dog owners could walk their pets.

“They should have thought about the functionality. There are dogs living in every building around the square and they could at least allow them to use the edge of the lawn,” said Sunčica Ana Veldiš.

However, there are those who say that the Meštrović pavilion now looks better than before. “Whenever something is being done, there is a controversy. Everything looks much cleaner now, the pavilion is more prominent, and people will soon get used to it,” said Silvano Hrelja.

However, the works are not yet over since wooden and stone benches have to be installed, as well as new garbage bins and bicycle stands. The square will also get a new lighting system. All this will cost 9.3 million kuna, and the works also included drains, stairs, granite cubes and stones.

The renovation of the Square of Victims of Fascism is part of a larger project which includes a pedestrian zone from Branimir Square to Square of Croatian Greats.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Jelena Ružić).


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