Ban Jelačić Square (the Main Square, or simply the Square; Trg in Croatian) has existed since the 17th century, but it was nothing similar to what it looks like today. Harmica, as it was called at the time, was a place where fairs were held, so it looked more like a market place than a square, and it was also beyond the city walls until the city started spreading to what is now the Lower Town.
The square got its main feature, and its name, in 1848 when the statue of Ban Jelačić was added to its centre. Ban Jelačić was one of the most prominent fighters for Croatian rights within Austro-Hungary and his title, ban, is a historic title which is more or less equivalent to viceroy, and similar to governor in function.
In the period after the World War II until Croatian independence in 1991, Croatia was part of Yugoslavia. Historic figures serving individual nations’ interests were not looked upon favourably in the era of Communism, so the statue was removed and the square got a new name: Republic Square. Once Croatia became independent, the square got its name and its statue back.
When the 1987 Summer Universiade (World University Games) was held in Zagreb, the entire city was renovated, and so was the square. It was repaved with stone blocks and made part of the Lower Town pedestrian zone. A part of the Medveščak stream which had been running through Tkalča was uncovered by workers and it formed the Manduševac fountain, which had been covered almost a century before that and forgotten since.
The square is the beating heart of the city: it’s always filled with people, during night and day. It’s the most popular meeting point for locals, so you’ll always find people waiting, either under the clock on the left side, or next to Ban and his horse in the centre of the square. It’s also a popular location for concerts and various cultural manifestations.