You Might be Surprised by all the Connections Between Croats and Czechs

By 17 June 2016

Ahead of today’s EURO 2016 match between Croatia and Czech Republic, one of the main connections is a football one, relating to the establishment of the oldest Croatian football club Hajduk in Prague

Countless connections can be found, the tourism one being obvious. Although Croats are proud of the Czech love for the Adriatic, we are not always the best hosts to such loyal guests. We ask Marijan Lipovac, historian and bohemist and President of the Croatian-Czech Society dealing with the research and promotion of friendship between the two nations, writes on June 17, 2016.

Speaking of the historical connection, Lipovac points out that in the Middle Ages Czechs believed they originated from Croatia, while their forefather Čeh was born in Krapina, a legend still popular in the region. The written history of Zagreb begins around 1094 with a Czech, the first bishop of Zagreb named Duh.

Invited in the mid 14th Century to Prague by the Czech king, Croatian Glagolists brought the Croatian form of Glagolitic script. Words with accents are thought to have been invented by Jan Hus as the author of Czech spelling who adopted it from the Glagolitic letter ž. Those letters were then adopted to Croatian spelling in the 19th Century by Ljudevit Gaj.

St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb, the seat of political power of Croatia, is full of Czech traces. The church portal was made by students of the Prague builder Petr Parler. The government building was designed in the 19th Century by Moravian builder Ivan Either, with the parliament building constructed by Czech Lav Kalda.

Architectural connections include the design of the streets of Lower Town by Czech Rupert Melkus. He also designed the Zrinjevac park and the Mirogoj cemetery, although fame was taken by Herman Bolle who built the arcades.

Croatia did repay prt of the architectural gesture through the symbol of modern Prague, The Dancing House, designed together with Frank Gehry by Croat Vlado Milunić.

The famous song My Homeland, created in the beginning of the Homeland War in Croatia, was recorded in 1991 in the Czech House in Zagreb, used by the Croatian Radiotelevision at the time. Between the two world wars, the first lady of Prague was Opatija-born Amelija Jurković, wife of Mayor Karel Baxe, while at the same time the first lady of Zagreb was Prague-born Berta Heinzel, wife of Mayor Vjekoslav Heinzel.

The first Croatian newspaper, called Ephemerides Zagrabienses, was published in 1771 by Czech Antun Jandera. The inventor of the propeller Josef Ressel lived in Motovun for a while, one of the reason the Motovun Film Festival prize is named the Propeller of Motovun.

Croatian bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer was given honorary citizenship in Prague in 1888, with a square named after him in 1925. The fames Well of Life sculpture by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović was built in Brandýs near Prague, while one of Meštrović’s last works is a monument to Czech Antonín Dvořák in New York.