Andrija Štampar
© F. Memedović Dr. Andrija Štampar was one of Croatia's pioneering medical figures

Zagreb, always the city of scientists and health professionals

Written by
Lara Rasin

If you're in Zagreb for a doctor's visit or any sort of health-related tourism, rest assured that you're in good hands. Zagreb (and Croatia overall) has been perfecting its medical knowledge and skills for centuries, and it has the rich scientific history to prove it.

Read on for our list of interesting locations that are testaments to the tradition of science and health in Zagreb.

1. The Old Chemical Laboratory on Stross

Zagreb is home to the Old Chemical Laboratory, once used by Nobel Prize-awarded chemists. The laboratory is located on Strossmayer Promenade (AKA, Stross). Stross is best known for hosting festivals and being one of the liveliest destinations in town, but its fascinating scientific past remains a secret to most.

Advent on Stross
© Advent in ZagrebThe entranceway to the Strossmayer Promenade

Inside the Old Chemical Laboratory is an exhibition on the lives and work of its former inhabitants, Nobel winners Lavoslav Ružička (1887 - 1976) and Vladimir Prelog (1906 - 1988). Both men's expertise extended into the field of medicine, as well.

For example, from 1933-1934, Ružička figured out the exact synthesis and structure of the male sex hormone androsterone. Prelog, who collaborated with modern-day pharmaceutical giant Pliva during its earliest days, conducted diverse research which extended into antibiotics.

2. The University of Zagreb’s School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine

The prestigious University of Zagreb, consisting of 34 academies, faculties, and schools, is the oldest and largest Croatian university. It was founded in 1669 by Hapsburg King Leopold I

The University has four institutions belonging to the biomedical field:

  1. The School of Medicine, established as a self-standing institution in 1917
  2. The School of Dental Medicine, established as a self-standing institution in 1962 (though the University had an odontology department since 1892)
  3. The Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, established as a self-standing institution in 1942 (though the University already had its first pharmaceutical class in 1882)
  4. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, established as a self-standing institution in 1919
University of Zagreb School of Medicine
© University of Zagreb School of MedicineStudents in class at the School of Medicine

3. Zagreb’s oldest pharmacy "K Crnom Orlu"

Pharmacy K Crnom Orlu (meaning "to the black eagle") is the oldest in Zagreb. 

This historic pharmacy dates all the way back to 1355.

Old Fortress Gate, Zagreb
© Borislav MarinicThe pharmacy sits just around the corner from the Stone Gate of Upper Town Zagreb

Rumour has it that the great grandson of Dante Alighieri, pharmacist Nicolo Alighieri, once lived in Zagreb and worked in K Crnom Orlu.

4. The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Josip Juraj Strossmayer, bishop of Đakovo and Srijem, initiated the founding of a South Slavic Academy in Zagreb in 1860. Over the years, this academy flourished and became the highly renowned Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. 

One of its most important leaders was world-renowned Dr. Andrija Štampar (1888 - 1958).

From 1919 to 1930, Štampar worked as the head of the hygiene department at the Ministry of Public Health. During that time, Štampar founded 250 hygienic institutions, including the School of Public Health in Zagreb, the Institute for Malaria in Trogir, multiple public health centers, bacteriological stations, anti-tuberculosis, anti-venereal and anti-trachoma clinics, and more. 

In the 1930s, Štampar spent time traveling the world as an expert lecturer in the field of health.

After World War II, the doctor served in prestigious positions, including:

  • Director of the School of Public Health in Zagreb
  • Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb
  • Rector of the University of Zagreb
  • Founder of the Institute of Occupational Hygiene
  • First Vice-President of the UN Economic and Social Council
  • Chairman of the first World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in Geneva in 1948

From 1947-1958, Štampar also served as president of the Yugoslavian Academy of Sciences and Arts (today the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts). 

© M. Vrdoljak / Zagreb Tourist Board, hazu
© M. Vrdoljak / Zagreb Tourist Board

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