November 22, 2020 – One of the most iconic modern monuments of city centre Zagreb, Ivan Kožarić’s Grounded Sun, has returned to Bogoviceva following eight months of restoration. We visited to bask in its brilliant glow
Grand remnants of the Austro-Hungarian empire surround on both sides of Bogoviceva, lower town Zagreb. These buildings are several storeys high. This is the heart of the city. At this time of year, the sun doesn’t even pass directly overhead at midday. That Bogoviceva lies in shadow for most of autumn’s days does not halt the effervescence of life on the street. This is the edge of the promenade for Špica – the beloved Zagreb ritual of coming to this particular stretch, looking at your best, for coffee, while taking in everyone else looking at their best.
Following several weeks of cloudy skies overhead, the boldest blue has blessed Zagreb for all of this late November weekend. In daylight hours, the strong rays banish the chill of the air for those sat in cafes on open squares or in the upper town. On shaded Bogoviceva, we have to rely on the rays of an artificial sun to bring brilliance to the street.
Following an absence of eight months, that brilliance shines once again on Bogoviceva with the return of Ivan Kožarić’s Grounded Sun monument. Removed immediately after the 2020 Zagreb earthquake (for fear that masonry would fall on it), its leave was extended in order that it be restored. One of the most iconic monuments in downtown Zagreb, it is admired by all city residents. Only some have a different way of expressing their appreciation.
© City of Zagreb Tourist Board
Over several years, the monument acquired significant scars. Stickers, graffiti and deep gouges, cut by keys or other implements, covered its surface. Such additions were perhaps the easiest way for the least remarkable people to actually leave a mark in the city – a sad admission of underachievement expressed in a desperate act to create permanence.
Damir Ujević, the restorer of the piece, has appealed to city residents to allow Ivan Kožarić’s Grounded Sun to remain unscathed now the monument has come back. Although the original artist, the sadly deceased Ivan Kožarić, said he didn’t mind the interaction with his work, it’s easy to appreciate Ujević’s plea. Grounded Sun looks glorious upon its return. Its golden glow now draws lingering glances from all who pass. People stop to take photos. Children can’t help but want to touch it.
Josip Kozarić’s Grounded Sun was first introduced to Zagreb city centre back in 1971. Its first home was on the Republic of Croatia Square (back then known as Maršal Tito square). Over the course of three decades, and several changes of address, it became a much-loved fixture of Zagreb centre. So much so, that it was decided that an entire solar system be built to accompany it.
Using the scale of Kozarić’s Grounded Sun as a base, artist Davor Preis created monuments of each other planet in our solar system. Kozarić’s Grounded Sun’s had been moved to the heart of the city centre in 1994. In his accompanying Nine Views installation from 2004, Preis placed each other planet around it to scale. Mercury sits in nearby Margaretska, Venus on Ban Josip Jelačić square, Earth lies on Varšavska, Mars can be found on Tkalčićeva 21 and the furthest neighbour, Neptune, is way out of the city centre, in the south-east Kozari suburb.
You easily can visit all of the Zagreb planet monuments in one day. It’s perhaps the quickest way to journey around our solar system. But, none of the other planets resonates with the same glow as Kozarić’s Grounded Sun on Bogoviceva. Its welcome return adds an extra highlight to Špica. Maybe this winter now won’t feel so cold in the shadows of Bogoviceva with the restoration of the sun.
All uncredited photos © Marc Rowlands
A map of where to find all of the planets of our solar system on the streets of Zagreb