Jess Rooney

The Bronze Poets of Zagreb

Cloaked in skin, struggling to escape the decay crawling towards hopes remains.

Light its only salvation, One touch,

or forever forgotten inside a glass of lost passages.

The sun travels slowly over our heads, a spinning ball, on a colossal journey. Three woman walk hunchbacked dragged down by weight of their burdens. In the distance, a sign reads Hostel 54. More than Six hours previously spent aboard a train. A hot box reaching 40 degrees occupied by bodies drenched in sweat and in dire need of sustenance. Sadly as they stood in front of a young woman wearing a masked smile they realised that they were standing in front of an obstacle blocking their release.


Welcome to the beginning of my first bad review.

On arrival at our Hostel, we were greeted by a smiling receptionist. Hidden behind her smiling mask and politeness was bad news. She informed us that our room was being equipped with air con and would not be ready for another hour. We were obviously not over the moon about this but thought, OK, we can last another hour. We hiked the many levels to deposit our bags inside our rooms.

This everyone is where the plot thickened. Inside our room was two builders bent over a building site with tools and equipment littering the floor. All three of us looked at each other and walked straight back to reception. It turned out when the receptionist said an hour what she actually meant was 3 – 4 hours. How I ask, can an establishment think that it is OK  to charge guests for a room when they cannot even use said room. I can tell you now, that with a lack of sleep and hungry bellies we did not take this news well. All three of us voiced our anger at the completely unacceptable situation. Eventually, we were able to enter our rooms to sleep after much discussion with the management. Unfortunately, this situation didn’t stop with us. Other guests had been put in the same situation and like us their rooms were disappointing.

I would recommend this Hostel as a last resort only.


Cathedral of Zagreb is a Gothic revival style church and is also the tallest building in Croatia. Beside the Church are the remains of tower spikes that have been defeated by erosion. It was really interesting to get close and see the lines and holes designed for times breath. One is the older sibling to the other, a glimpse of their combined life cycle. It really shows you the power nature has overall structures whether they belong to her, or us.

The Church of St. Mark is a beautiful church planted on the upper level of Zagreb.  On its roof are tiles that are laid out to represent the coat of arms of Zagreb and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. It is from the late Gothic period and has some Romanesque features. It’s also a hot spot for selfies so get your selfie sticks ready for a battle of the poses.

Lotrščak Tower which dates back to the 13th century was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. Now it is used to provide a beautiful view for whoever is willing to battle against the dragon that circles its peak, or you can just pay the small fee.

Behind the tower is a picturesque walkway where you can sit and allow yourself to be lost in thought. I take pleasure in finding that one spot where you can breathe in an enjoy where you are in the moment.

I saw the past in front of me. A dip inside the pages of a Sherlock Holmes Novel. I watched as a man riding a motorbike lit lanterns with a lance.

I closed my eyes and saw that same man on horseback, lighting each lantern through the fog. Each one became a blaze reveling the path ahead. ‘But as minds do wonder’ I left Mr. Holmes behind and delved deeper in time, the Man and his horse alongside me. A man sits on horseback waiting in the distance. He wore armor over his entire body and carried a lance aimed at his opponent, ready for the game to begin.

The Consolation of Your Hair

I gazed at you last night. You dreamt. With sadness. Dead.
In the fatal hall, in the idyll of flowers.
On the high catafalque, in the agony of candles.
Ready to surrender my life as a sacrifice.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t. Dazzled I stood there
In the fatal hall, full of magnificent death.
Wondering if the dark eyes were clear
From whom a better life for me once shined.

 Everything, really everything is dead. Eyes, breath, and hands.
Everything I wanted to animate with despair
In my blind dread and in passion of suffering,

In the fatal hall, with gray remembrance.
Only your hair was still alive,
And it said: Stay still! For dreaming, death is.

A poem by Antun Gustav Matos who’s Sculpture turns nobody away from the empty seat beside him. The city of Zagreb is full of Sculptures celebrating the lives of writers and poets from Croatia. I never knew that it was full of so many creative people.

Another such person is Marija Juric Zagorka, Croatia’s first female journalist and one of its most widely read authors. Marja was born in the village of Negovec.  She married young to a much older man. But after some years she fled from her husband and escaped to Zagreb. There she had the freedom to blossom, writing nineteen novels in her time there. she also founded Women’s Papers, the first magazine in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to focus on women’s issues.


I noticed from wandering around the streets of Zagreb that there was a lot of interesting Graffiti.

I have always felt drawn to colours and even though not all Graffiti can be seen as artistic I feel it is an expression in itself and the colours reflect the emotion released onto its concrete canvas.

Like most of inland Europe the buildings are all so different, so contrasting from one another, yet they fit in together (the typical diverse family) making up a beautiful coloured city.

I have visited Zagreb twice now and though my first trip to its city was ‘rough’ on returning  I experienced a fresher feeling for its narrow streets and came out the other side with a more pleasant memory to share. I guess given a second chance,  it can surprise you.

What Lies behind every locked door is truth, But though certainty is seen as valuable,

opening a door is not always wise,

Human is to blunder. 


Jess. x


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