Did you know?

Nikola Tesla

Find out more about some of the most famous Croats in science, music, sports, arts….etc.

…that Slavoljub Edvard Penkala, chemist and inventor of the first mechanical pencil, pen, fountain pen, thermos bottle, detergent, rotary toothbrush, car brakes and about eighty other inventions, lived and died in Zagreb.

…that Nikola Tesla, one of the world’s most famous inventors, was born and raised in Croatia? He is famous for his revolutionary developments in the fields of electromagnetism and electricity. Tesla visited Zagreb in 1892 in order to present his idea of installing an electric street light system powered by a hydroelectric power station which would be built at Plitvice Lakes. City council rejected his idea. New power station was built at another location, and today you can still see more than 200 gas street lamps in Zagreb’s Upper town, that have to be turned on and off manually every day.

…that Zagreb is the only capital city in the world that hosts one of the races in Alpine Ski World Cup? The Snow Queen Trophy is organized annually since 2005 on the Medvednica Mountain, where famous skiing champions Janica and Ivica Kostelić, both born in Zagreb, made their first ski steps. Janica is a winner of five World Championship gold medals and three Overall Alpine Skiing World Cup titles, as well as four gold and two silver Olympic medals while her older brother Ivica is a winner of four Olympic silver medals and was overall World Cup champion in 2011.

…that the Oscar winning producer Branko Lustig started his career in Zagreb? Lustig, born in Croatia’s Jewish family, survived imprisoning in two notorious WWII concentration camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. He began his film career in 1955 as an assistant director at Jadran Film, a state-owned Zagreb-based film production company, and became famous worldwide after winning two Academy awards for producing Schindler’s List in 1993 and in 2001 for Gladiator.

…that the famous sculptor, Ivan Meštrović (Croatian Rodin) lived in Zagreb’s Upper town for more than 20 years? After moving to USA, he donated his house to the Republic of Croatia and today it hosts permanent collection that contains more than 300 of his works of art. Meštrović was recognized worldwide as the first living person to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

…that Hotel Esplanade, near Zagreb’s railway station, was built to provide accommodation for passengers of the famous Orient Express train, which traveled between Paris and Istanbul? It was built in 1925, and today is a 5* hotel belonging to The Regent luxury hotel chain. Through its long history, Esplanade hosted many celebrities, including Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Leonid Brezhnev, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Queen Elisabeth II, U2, Tina Turner and many others.

…that the first Croatian professional female journalist, suffragette, founder of first newspapers for women and author of numerous novels lived, worked and died in Zagreb? Marija Jurić Zagorka was struggling in the men’s world at the beginning of the 20th century laying the foundation for women’s rights. She became one of the most valued writers of the Croatian literature, and after she wrote the first Croatian crime novel (“Kneginja iz Petrove ulice”) was given the nickname Croatia’s Agatha Christie.

…that the first Oscar winning animated film outside of USA was The Substitute (Surogat) by Dušan Vukotić? Winning the Academy award in 1961 was the highest recognition for Zagreb School of Animated Films. Another famous cartoon from Zagreb film studio was Professor Balthazar about an old inventor, shown in numerous countries beside Yugoslavia (Italy, Iran, Canada, Spain, Zimbabwe, USA, Australia and many others).

…that the inventor of the first controllable aircraft was David Schwartz from Zagreb? He found investors for his idea in Germany and in 1986 his air ship performed the first test flight. Unfortunately, only a day before the final public flight in 1987 Schwartz suddenly died. His widow sold drawings and technical solutions to Count Ferdinand Zeppelin.