Ban Jelačić Square is the central square of the city of Zagreb named after ban Josip Jelačić, the chief government presiding during the Hapsburg rule. Jelacic actually supported Croatian independence, so he’s largely regarded as a national hero in Croatia. The square is colloquially called Jelačić plac.
It is located just below old hillside city cores of Gradec and Kaptol and south of the Dolac Market. It is the center of the Zagreb Downtown pedestrian zone and has served as the city’s commercial heart ever since 1641. The square was Zagreb’s main marketplace and carried the name “Harmica” (Hungarian for “one thirtieth”), after the tax levied on the goods that were sold here. In 1848 the square was officially renamed in honour of Ban (“Governor”) Josip Jelačić. After World War II the name of the square was changed to “Republic Square”, only to return to its previous title in 1990.
Ban Jelačić Square stands at the centre of Zagreb’s social life and the most popular meeting points are “under the clock” on the west side of the square, and “under the horse’s tail” – a reference to the equestrian statue of Ban Jelačić in the square’s centre. It was removed from the square in 1947 by the Communists, and only replaced in 1990 during the breakup of Yugoslavia. Originally placed facing northwards in order to symbolize the Ban’s defence of Croatia’s rights against Austria and Hungary, the statue now faces south to provide a better balance to the layout of the square.
Most of the buildings around the square date from the 19th century, and display a variety of architectural styles, from Biedermaier to Art Nouveau and Post-modernism.
The Manduševac Fountain was built above a natural spring that provided Zagreb with drinking water right up until the end of the 19th century. Court records about the persecution of witches mention the spring as their main meeting point. There is also a legend connecting the spring with the name of the city. Namely, one sunny day an old Croatian war leader was returning from battle tired and thirsty, and asked a beautiful girl Manda to scoop up some water from the spring for him. The Croatian word for “to scoop up water” is “zagrabiti”. So the spring got the name Manduševac, after the girl, and the town got the name Zagreb after the scoop of water.