Cric Tunnels

Cric Tunnel Map-Click on Map to EnlargeAmong the many interesting sites of Zagreb's "Old Town" perhaps the most unique is the Cric Tunnel, a 350-meter spine cutting across the area between the upper town and Gornji Grad. The tunnels were built during World War II as a bomb shelter and after the war it was briefly used as a food warehouse, but fell into disuse shortly after that. The central hall (now the Rain Room) was renovated during the height of Cold War tensions. After a period where it was a defacto home for the indigent, in 1993 it served as the site of the Under City Rave, one of the first raves in  Croatia, while it was under the ownership of the Museum of Contemporary Art. A year later it was a part of the city's Earth Day celebration. The tunnels underwent a further renovation, opening to the public two years later. In the ensuing years, it has hosted historical exhibitions, as well as Advent celebrations. Unfortunately, visiting during the time of Covid-19, the tunnel are once again bare.

Radiceva Street EntranceRadiceva Tunnel EntranceOur tour of the Cric Tunnels begins Radiceva entrance, the street that leads to the Upper Town. Passing between the wooden doors adjacent to the Cric Souvenir shop (there are no tunnel souvenirs, sadly), the actual entrance is about 25 meters inside. The photo to the left shows the Radiceva street entrance, while the photo to the left shows the actual entrance to the tunnel.

Entering the Cric Tunnels

Llica Street EntranceLlica Street EntranceThe first tunnel that branches off to the left connects the main street of  llica, which runs past the main square, Ban Jelajic. The photo to the left shows the entrance to the tunnel, which  is located just past the  Caffe bar Vespa, while the photo to the right shows the entrance from Illica. The actual tunnel entrance is about 75 meters from the street entrance, and is very easy to miss.

Looking Down Tunnel 2Tunnel 2 Closed SignThere seemed to be more access tunnels leading to the south than are captured on the map--the second tunnel was a case in point. It is a long offshoot, probably 80 meters or so long, and at the end there is a chain in front of the exit door.  The photo to the left shows a view down the tunnel, while the photo to the right shows visittors that they have reached the end of the line. At least it was warm, compared to the 34 degree temperature outside. According to Wikipedia, there were two Ilica Street entrances, so perhaps this is the second one.

Tunnel 3 ExteriorLooking Down Tunnel 3The Third tunnel (I could not verify the street address where it came out, as a fence separated the tunnel entrance from access to a main street, presumably Ilica again) open onto a small ledge, with stairs leading to the street level. Again, a wire fence with a locked gate prevented further exploration. Judging from the location on Google Maps, it may be the Tomiceva entrance. When I exited the tunnel, a worker was just finishing touchups on the purple exterior. Like the next two exits, this one had washroom facilities just inside, indicating that it must normally be open to the public. The photo to the left shows the view from the main passageway, while the photo to the left shows the painted tunnel entrance.

Rain RoomAs you can see from the map at the top of the page, midway between the main entrances lies a much larger and open central hall, which is identified in the map above as a  "Rain Room." The central underground hall has been turned into a Rain Room where visitors walk under water drops (umbrellas are provided by the Tunnel) and images of famous persons of Croatia are displayed, with holograms of the first female proffesional journalist in Croatia Marija Juric Zagorka, Croatian poet Antun Gustav Matos, Manda (from the legend of Mandusevac, the origin story of Zagreb) and other historical and cultural figures in drops of water.  There was no evidence of this on the day that I visited, so I don't know if this is still operating. The central hall was where goods were stored when the tunnel served as a warehouse.

"Leaving?" signWarning?" SignThere were numerous stencil signs, mostly faded, that lined the entire 350-meter route. Given my limited knowledge of Croatian (7 words and counting), I can barely hazard a guess as to their meaning. The problem is compounded by the fact that key elements of the phrases are badly faded. The photo to the left says something about leaving, while the photo to the right is some sort of warning. Fortunately, I was not threatened by a nuclear attack, so I could safely ignore them.

Art Park EntranceFacilities at Tunnel EntranceThe final two south facing tunnels lead to the Art Park and are labeled Art Park 2 and Art Park 1 respectively (moving from east to west). Although both were closed when we visited, they appeared to be identical, and most likely were another popular entrance, as they both feature washroom facilities at the now-closed entrances. The photo to the left shows one of the Art Park entrances, while the photo to the right shows the facilities at the entrances.

Mesnicka EntranceBeyond the final two Art Park side tunnels lies the the west entrance on Mesnicka Ulica. This is the most popular entrance, located at the base of the beautiful Strossmayer Promenade. The location is just below the promenade, and is shown in the photo to the left. While it was somewhat disappointing that all the previous historical and social exhibits were removed and the advent festvities no longer find a home there (at least not in 2021), it is hoped that they will again one day serve as an exhibition center and not merely a pedestrian walkway. Before leaving the topic, below is a short video of the tunnels in happier times, during the Advent festivities.

The Cric Tunnels During Advent

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