An original souvenir from a visit to Zagreb is a tie, a must-have item of clothing in the business world and an authentic Croatian product. In the 17th century Croatian soldiers used to tie elegant scarves around their necks, a fashion later picked up by the French –the rest is history. One of the most important inventions of the 20th century, the fountain pen, was actually designed in Zagreb. Its inventor, engineer Eduard Slavoljub Penkala, patented the world’s first mechanical pencil in 1906 and in 1907 he patented the first fountain pen. He produced them in Zagreb and exported them to 70 countries around the world.
This pioneer of modern times has about 80 inventions to his name, even some in the field of aeronautics. In 1910, only a couple of years after the Wright Brothers, Penkala designed Croatia’s first aeroplane. The aromatic biscuit paprenjak, once made by the women of old Zagreb, is another original souvenir. It is an unusual combination of honey, walnuts and pepper and a reminder of the contrasts we find in Zagreb. The licitar, a traditional, colourfully adorned biscuit made from honey dough, originates from central Croatia and the lowlands. As it is heart-shaped, it should be given as a symbol of love and affection for special occasions.
Red Šestine umbrellas, a part of traditional local attire, protect the traders at the Dolac market from sun and rain. They too form a prominent part of the city’s identity. For those interested in antiques and works of art, there is a market every weekend at Britanski trg. Zagreb is a city where you can browse in small traditional shops or at contemporary boutiques on the most famous street in the city, Ilica – or look for something in the main shopping malls. Zagreb is a city that always holds a special place in the hearts of those who visit it.