British Square in Zagreb – Not only for Brits
Last time we wrote about the art of collecting and equipping yourself with the right tools, literature and methods you need to know in order to be ready to engage in the vast and mysterious world of antiques. Now we will present one of the places where you can find the items for your collection.
Even if you were not planning to be a collector but you are a fan of antiques, or you are just passing by, British Square in Zagreb is a place you really should visit. British Square is most commonly referred to as Britanac, and is one of the few remaining squares to include open-air marketplace. The square is located in the Ilica Street, just a few blocks west from the main city square, Ban Jelačić Square. A five minute walk from the very heart of the city takes you into one the busiest flea markets in Croatia. The magic happens every Sunday when this marketplace turns into an antique fair. For fifteen years now, Sunday mornings are reserved for sellers of antique books and art objects from The Art Nouveau to the more recent period. You can find various items here, such as decorative items, antique books and collectables of both local and international origin. This market is best known for having items from the period of WWII. Militaria, art deco, propaganda (both communist and fascist) and postcards are the forté of this fair. From before the sunrise, numerous cars and vans arrive to the British Square crammed with various objects out of which the sellers carefully take out their items and decorate the stands. When the weather is favorable, taking a stroll through the stands is like taking a walk through history. Bathed in sunlight and full of charming cafés and small restaurants this place allows you to mingle around, satisfy your curiosity and purchase something that catches your eye. Once the stands are set, you can really notice a whole variety of items: decorative items made of glass and crystal, rifles, pistols and sabers, paintings, ancient radios, music records, badges, old coins etc. Britanac is a great place for meeting young artists who exhibit their paintings and handicrafts here. To be honest, we didn’t look at the various items so much, as we were there for the books. If you have a keen eye, you could find very nice editions on various subjects: Croatian and Yugoslavian art, politics, history, ethnography, linguistics, dictionaries or, even rare and valuable belletristic editions.
Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer customers, so sellers are offering their items for very popular prices. Even if you are not here to buy anything, you can still enjoy the conversation with sellers, or meet new people who share your interests. Keep in mind that these sellers have various items which are not displayed, so don’t be shy and ask the sellers if they have something extra to show you. We started talking to a seller of 20th century art books and a few minutes later we were talking about 16th century manuscripts. The interesting thing about Britanac is that many tourists come to visit this place all by themselves, without guides. They are mostly from Japan, South Korea, Spain but there are also those from the other parts of Europe. To sum it up, you can experience the atmosphere of a marketplace, art gallery, book and coffee shop on this little square. As the day is passing by, the visitors are less frequent and the stands empty one by one. After the last of the sellers has gone, the city workers slowly start transforming the square back to the little green market that usually occupies the British square.
Photo (1) property of playzagreb.com/shopping-2/u-must-feel-it-on/britanac/.
Photo (2) from active Ebay listing on Sigedon.