Dolac Market: “The Stomach of Zagreb”

Dolac Market: “The Stomach of Zagreb”

One of the things visitors to Zagreb immediately notice in the centre of Zagreb is the famous market.

Its big, unique umbrellas make it very easy to spot. It’s a place where people can buy fresh products, talk and enjoy their morning coffee.

Even though there are many supermarkets, people still go to Dolac to buy fresh food. There’s something about the ritual of buying from your favourite stands that makes visiting Dolac a special experience.

You can feel the historic sentiment, because the history of the Dolac market is long and has shaped the life of Zagreb for decades.

The origins of Dolac

Dolac isn’t the only market in Zagreb, but it was the first one to be built according to European standards. There are several other similar markets around town that are worth a visit but none quite match the charm of Dolac.

In 1918 Croatia became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later to become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), which saw Zagreb become a financial, commercial and cultural centre with a growing population. At that time Zagreb had a market called Harmica on square, however the rapid growth of the city called for a larger marketplace. This is how the idea of Dolac was born.

Later that year a person was sent to visit the markets of Europe, including Munich, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Berlin, Praha and Vienna. After comparing the plans for Dolac with the markets of Europe, it was concluded that Dolac was on the right track to mirror European marketplaces and construction began. Dolac officially opened in 1930.

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How to find Dolac?

You can find Dolac in the heart of Zagreb. Dolac is located between:

– the main square of Count Josip Jelačić.

– the seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Zagreb.

The – the upper town of Zagreb.

From the main square of count Josip Jelačić head north and take the small street called and climb the stairs that lead to Dolac market. Also, you can go from the Josip Jelačić square through Harmica (a small passage in which the original market was located) which leads to the street (Under the wall). From there a person can easily climb the stairs and find themselves at the Dolac market.

Did you know?

The fish at Dolac is caught in the Adriatic Sea and transported to Dolac overnight. So you can always expect to find really fresh fish at Dolac!

What makes Dolac so charming?

Altogether Zagreb has 23 markets, Dolac is most identified as an important part of Zagreb. Since the opening it was a place where (the women selling the goods) would bring fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and meat. You always need to be friendly to your kumica so you get the best products! You can start by simply greeting her in Croatian!

Kumice are central to the identity of the Dolac market. From the very beginning, everyone had their favourite kumica. So much so that people would rush to Dolac each morning to make sure to have first dibs on products from their kumica. Kumice would even collect the dirty laundry from people in Zagreb. After washing and ironing it, they brought the laundry back in exchange for some extra money. Thanks to the whole concept of kumice the marketplace has a unique and familiar atmosphere.

Exercise: Do you know the following Croatian words?

Answer market

Answer vegetables

Answer fruit

Answer meat

Answer fish

Answer fresh fish

Answer bread

Answer cheese

Answer cream

Answer stand

Answer handcrafts

Answer flowers

Answer homemade product

Answer saleswoman (literally: godmother)

Answer milk and dairy products

A brief tour through Dolac

Walking through the four units of the marketplace, you need to know how to say the sorts of fish, fruits and vegetables you need. We have prepared a list of words you might find useful when buying groceries in Zagreb in our blog post about groceries! Also, if you want to test your knowledge on the vocabulary, try out our vocabulary trainer.

There is also a fish market with daily fresh fish! In order to buy the exact amount you need to make a delicious meal, you need to know how to express quantities and amounts in Croatian, as well.

Lastly, you might want to reward yourself with a coffee and the chance to relax with friends. Around Dolac there are lots of cafés in which you can sit and relax. You’ll always find people enjoying the morning or afternoon at the many cafés around Dolac before going back home.

In order to order a drink, you will need to understand what’s on the menu. Luckily for you, we have already written about how to order a drink in Croatian!

Dolac Market in Zagreb

Some interesting facts about Dolac!

  • At the top of the stairs that lead to Dolac stands the statue . It was made as a symbol of importance and appreciation of the Kumice, the women working at the marketplace
  • The Dolac market is easily spotted because of its (an umbrella decorated in style of the Šestine folk costume)
  • In the downstairs section of the market (under the main open market) it is possible to buy the cheese and cream necessary for making , a special pastry. You can read more about traditional food in Zagreb our blog post Croatian Food, Cuisine and Cooking
  • On the 8th of June this year, the Croatian post office printed a picture of the Dolac market on its postage stamps
  • Before it was a market, Dolac was a poor neighbourhood. All of the houses had to be torn down in order to build the market. As one could assume, this was not received well by the people. The start of construction was postponed many times and this really angered the locals. So much so that some even protested.
  • Zvonimir Milčec wrote about Dolac: “Dolac is the prettiest monument to food that Zagreb has. This old market means the same to gourmands as a cathedral means to the believers.”

Exercise: What do the following expressions mean?

Gdje je tržnica Dolac? Answer Where is the market Dolac?

Imate li svježe mlijeko? Answer Do you have fresh milk?

Gdje mogu naći štand s mesom? Answer Where can I find the meat stand?

Koliko to košta? Answer How much does it cost?

Gdje mogu kupiti svježe voće? Answer Where can I buy fresh fruit?

Je li riba svježa? Answer Is the fish fresh?

Trebate li još nešto? Answer Do you need anything else?

Ne trebam ništa više, hvala! Answer I don’t need anything else, thanks!

Možete li mi pomoći? Answer Can you help me? (formal)