Once on the edge of the city, the first of its sort in the south-eastern Europe, to this day it fascinates and offers a piece of nature despite being swallowed by the city a long time ago.
Maksimir Park still preserves the original flora and fauna in spite of human intervention and redecoration and the object constructions. The park is founded at the end of the 18th century under the initiative of bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovac after whom the park is named Maksimilijan’s peace (peace – mir), i.e. Maksimir. It was supposed to be a baroque park (French style) spreading over the bishop’s forest which can be seen in the area from the main portal to the foot of the gazebo and from the rambling paths. In the midst of the accusations for the masonry, for the alliance with the Hungarian Jacobins and for the money wasting, Maksimilijan was forced to leave the project.
Park’s construction was taken over by a successor, Bishop Aleksandar Alagović, so the French decorating style discarded and the forests were made ethereal and the meadows were created. His influence on the park remained little, but it was a solid base for the continuation.
Its final appearance can be attributed to archbishop Juraj Haulik who engaged the experienced Austrian architects led by Michael Sebastian Riedl to give the park the characteristics of modern English parks from that time. The Romantic era started to rise so the elements and concepts of the period were also applied in the landscape decoration. Natural park characteristics such as the height difference, old forests and creeks combined with some of the interventions like artificial pond, ornamental plants or object constructions were skillfully applied to give a astonishing landscape value and identity.
Today, 316 hectares of the park are completely surrounded by the city. The park’s path network through the forest, meadows and ponds connects several buildings with the nature and the decorated parts. It was and still is a green oasis, a piece of nature on the southern slopes of Medvednica being a home for many animal and plant species out of which more than one hundred birds and a six hundred years old European oak should be highlighted. A biodiversity of the park surrounded by city is astonishing.
The architecture works are mostly by Franz Schücht who worked in Zagreb. The most important ones are: the Bishops’s Villa, the Gazebo (kiosk), the Swiss House, the Quite House and various pavilions with the entrance portal. It is also important to mention other buildings like St. George’s Chapel, the obelisk raised to mark the end of the construction as well as the interesting building of an apiary within the bishop Haulik’s villa.
It is also quite interesting that there are many sculptures all around park and one unique hillock built up as a millennium memorial of Croatian kingdom, it was built of pieces of soil all around the world where Croats live.
In southern part of the park by the Maksimirska street and across the city stadium with a same name Zagreb zoo have found its place.
Protection of the Maksimir park started in 1948 and today park is protected as a monument of the park design architecture and also as a Croatian cultural property.