Cultural impact of Austro-Hungarian Empire

You can tell a lot about a certain city by just looking at the architecture and the nomenclature of the streets and squares.

Zrinjevac Park Julien Duval
Zrinjevac Park photoi by Julien Duval, photo credit by TB of the City of Zagreb

Sometimes history holds so much information that you get lost in the first few sentences of reading into the past of something that you had an interest in, and you wish you could just dive into a sea of information much more easily.

National Theatre Zagreb Photo by M. Švarc jpg
National Theatre Zagreb Photo by M. Švarc jpg

But who said that wouldn’t be easy? Let us take you on a short journey through one important period of Croatian history and its impact on the look of Croatia today.
Austro Hungarian Empire was a  monarchy that included Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and its coast, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia.

The empire itself lasted from 1867 until the very end of WWI in 1918, which makes it 51 years under the same crown!
Since many countries were interwoven into this empire, there was no doubt that there was a cultural influence in the air.
Croatia had most of the influence from Austria and a bit less from Hungary, just like the other countries who were in a bit submissive position in this monarchy.
Language is one of the reasons, considering that Hungarian comes from a completely different branch of languages, the Ugro-Finnish one.


Zagreb cathedral photo by Matko M. Švarc
Zagreb cathedral photo by Matko M. Švarc

Therefore, German was the official language in most parts of Croatia, and many German words live to this day in most of the continental parts. That even left the tradition in most Croatian middle schools to learn German and English.
Many Croatian scientists, lawyers, and artists wouldn’t be who they were if they hadn’t gone to Vienna, Graz, or Budapest to achieve their ambitions regarding their careers and education. Just ask Nikola Tesla 😉

Bakač . Zagreb Croatian Attractions
Bakač Zagreb Croatian Attractions

Seeing how universities and science, as well as support for artists, works in Vienna and Budapest, it didn’t take long for the Croatian elite to transfer these principles to their hometowns. That helped a lot to put Croatian universities and institutions on the map of Europe and make them more noticeable.

But what is the most vivid relic of these long-gone times? The architecture, of course!

Although you won’t see much of the Austro-Hungarian architecture along the Croatian coast, with an exemption of Rijeka, continental Croatia is full of Austro-Hungarian type of architecture that is a witness of history.

The concathedral of St. Peter and Paul Osijek Croatia photo by Filip Beusan photo credit by TB of Croatia
The concathedral of St. Peter and Paul Osijek Croatia photo by Filip Beusan photo credit by TB of Croatia

So what are the most famous buildings from that era? Cathedral in Đakovo, remodeling of the cathedral in Zagreb, Croatian Academy of Science and Arts, Art Pavillion and the two most famous architectural monuments of this era- Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and Mirogoj cemetery.

Mirogoj J. Duval
Mirogoj, Zagreb cemetery, photo by J. Duval, photo credit by TB of The City of Zagreb

The coastal cities tend to break down their walls and open up to the sea, cities such as Trogir, Zadar, Pula, and Šibenik.

Besides these things, the Austro-Hungarian Empire has left a lot of cultural impacts that nobody can deny and still tends to stay in the culture of the Croatian nation to this day. Just take a look at our section of Croatian gastronomy and see what reminds you of Austrian and Pannonian cuisine.

Ana Plevko

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