Last modified: 2015-05-05 by ivan sache
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Flag of Zagreb - Image by Željko Heimer, 13 November 2002
The oldest settlemenst in the region of Zagreb predate the Roman era, but they are located mainly along the Sava River. The first settlements on the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountain were made on the hill of Gradec (also named Grić) with the arrival of Croats in the 7th century.
At least since the 9th century, there are traces of the first settlements on the nearby hill latter known as Kaptol (Chapter). There the Croato-Hungarian King Ladislaus I (Ladislav I) established a diocese in around 1094; in a document from 1134 named Felitian's Charter (Felicijanova povelja), in which the Esztergom (Ostrogon) Bishop Felitian recounts on the first Bishop of Zagreb, Duh. This is also the oldest preserved mention of the name Zagreb.
Beneath Kaptol, south of it, a settlement of foreign (initially Italian) merchants was created in the 12th century under the name Vicus Latinorum (Latin Street, in Croatian, Vlaška ulica, still bearing the same name) under the auspices of the Bishops of Kaptol. The merchant town of Zagreb on the hill of Gradec was granted the privileges of a Royal and Free Town by the Golden Bull issued by the Croato-Hungarian King Bela IV in 1242, for the services rendered in his retreat from the Tatars hordes.
Also on the north side of Kaptol, a settlement was granted the Free Community status in 1344, under the name Nova Ves (New Village), under the diocesan auspices.
These four communities were united in 1850 into the Free and Royal Capital City of Zagreb. It began growing into a modern capital including more and more surrounding villages in the plains towards the Sava River and beyond. The oldest parts of the town built on the hills are today referred to as the Upper Town (Gornji Grad).
After the Second World War, the town of Zagreb was administratively divided into communities with several administrative changes over the next years, so in 1964 Zagreb was composed of 14 Communities as basic units of local self-government.
After Croatia gained independence in 1991, the territorial structure of the state was changed in 1993, and the 14 communities were united into a single Capital City with the status of a county. For a short period after 1995 Zagreb got a special status within the Zagreb County, but since 1997 it is again an independant unit with the status of a county. Today, it is divided into 17 town quarters (gradska četvrt).
Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007
The symbols of Zagreb are prescribed in the Town Statutes Statut Grada Zagreba, adopted on 14 December 1999 by the Town Assembly and published the same day in the Town official gazette Službeni glasnik Grada Zagreba, No. 19, amended by Statut Grada Zagreba (pročišćeni tekst), adopted on 19 December 2001 by the Town Assembly and published on 24 December 2001 in Službeni glasnik Grada Zagreba, No. 20.
The symbols were approved by the Central State Office for Administration on 4 May 2000 (M. Bejdić personal communication).
The symbols were designed by the Heraldic Art d.o.o. company from Rijeka.
Article 8 of the Statutes prescribes the flag as follows: "The flag, in proportions 1:2, is blue with the coat of arms bordered yellow in the middle."
The legislation require the town flags to have the complete coat of arms, including the shield, so the long tradition of the banner of arms of Zagreb was changed.
Blue is the traditional color of Zagreb (also used for buses, trams, phone booths, etc.)
Željko Heimer, 25 April 2013
Coat of arms of Zagreb - Image by Željko Heimer, 13 November 2002
The coat of arms of Zagreb is described in Article 8 of the aforementioned Statutes as follows: "In a blue field on a green hill a silver town with three towers and opened golden doors, in chief dexter a golden six-pointed star and in chief sinister a silver crescent."
This new, modernized rendition of the coat of arms is based on the 1896 model, itself based on the arms of Grić from the 13th century, picturing a three-towered town with opened doors on a hill, followed by a star and a crescent. As the legislation on the coats of arms require those cities that have historical coat of arms to adopt them in the same form as the historical examples, but only the shield, without any additional elements, the modern coat of arms of Zagreb does not include the crown.
The castle with open doors recalls that Zagreb was declared a Royal Free Market Place, open to merchants and visitors, in 1292 by the Croato-Hungarian King Bela IV, whio hid himself there from the Tatars attacking from east over all his land up to Zagreb. The crescent and star are ancient symbols used on the oldest coat of arms of Croatia. The windows on the castle are of the type used for shooting from them, symbolizing, that though open, it is ready for defence if necessary.
Following the considerable increase in the pay parking zones in Zagreb in summer 2009, a humorous version of the Zagreb coat of arms was circulated around the Internet. Recently it was published also in most of the Zagreb newspapers, for instance Vecernji. The design adds a large letter "P" to the Zagreb town wals and towers design of the coat of arms, with indication "00-24" clearly combining the parking sign with the town coat of arms. As far as I am aware, this particular Zagreb "parking coat of arms" has not been contested by the town authorities yet, and it may be they shall not do anything about it. The town regulations that may be used as arguments against such use are those prohibitng the use where "honour and dignity" are not expressed. On the other hand, there are other provisions expressely allowing the use of the town symbols "in art, education and science".
Željko Heimer, 25 October 2009
Flags used in Zagreb in the 1990s - Images by Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007
In the 1990s, the red-star-defaced flag of Zagreb fell into disuse; however the starless blue flag showing white elements of the coat of arms was continued in use, as abundant as ever, or even more so. As there was not regulation regarding its exact design, the flag was used in several variations, without specified proportions, most often 1:2. Some flag show outlined elements, others white filled elements, some with and some without the shield. A difference in the background colour is also noticable ranging from very dark blue to very light blue. It is much more often to see it with the arms rotated 90 degrees, and hanged verically; sometimes there is no white outline around the shield of arms.
The flag as prescribed by the Statutes of 1999 is used today as a rule only by the institutions of the town administrations. Most of the town companies hoist such variations on their seats as well.
Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007
Alleged official flag
Alleged official flag - Image by Željko Heimer, 23 September 2007
The Temporary Statutes of the Town of Zagreb Privremeni statut Grada Zagreba, adopted on 15 April 1993 by the Town Assembly and published on 26 April 1993 in Službeni glasnik Grada Zagreb, replaced the symbols prescribed in the 1988 Statutes.
Article 4 determines that the coat of arms "has the shape of a shield colored blue. In the field of the shield is set a city with three towers fortified with walls and city gates. In the chief on the left is a young moon and on the right an eight-pointed [sic] star. The city walls, the towers and the young moon are silver; the eight-pointed star is golden. The hill beneath the tower is green." Further on it is determined that the flag is "colored blue. In the middle on both sides is set the coat of arms of the Town of Zagreb."
This decision was obviously made hastily and contains several inconsistencies. It is not known whether a graphical depiction of this design was ever actually made. The eight-pointed star is certainly unknown in the Zagreb coat of arms - although it was apparently used in the oldest seals of Grić - it seems that it "crept" into the design from the misunderstanding that the old symbols of Grić were also the symbols of Zagreb (as it is indeed far too often found in the literature, equaling the two entities. It is indeed quite usual that when Zagreb before 1850 is now mentioned it is Grić that is meant).
In 1992 the Town of Zagreb donated its allegedly official flag to the collection of the Zagreb Town Museum (Inventory No. 5366), which is now at display in the permanent exhibition, captioned as the current flag of Zagreb. However that flag certainly does not match the 1993 nor any previous determinations - the coat of arms in that flag is a white-only depiction of the 1896 Bojničić's design, together with the shield outline and the crown - the most notable difference being the star that is still, of course, six-pointed and not eight-pointed as prescribed.
Željko Heimer, 10 September 2007