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Ever wondered what the names of Croatian cities mean and how they got their name? Wonder no more. Here are their stories below.


The literal translation would be “the place of scooping up.  It’s connected to a local legend that a young girl helped a thirsty knight  in the 11th century by showing where to dig for water.” She cried “Zagrabite” (Scoop up!), or in another version of the story, “Zagrebite” (scratch the earth!) Upon listening to her, he found the water source of Mandusevac, which not only satisfied his thirst, but actually showed him the future city – as it was magical.


The city was founded next to the banks of the river Drava, which has a habit of broadening its trough during long rainy periods. Naturally, the houses had to be safe from water, so settlers had to find a dry place of “perpetual ebb-tide”. And this is how Osijek got its name – “oseka” means “ebb-tide”.


In past, it was called Rubinum, which means “precious stone ruby”.


In ancient times, the mountain of Srd featured a dense oak forest called Dubrava. The people thus connected it with the city, and it influenced its name. Another story speaks of Turkish invaders, who called the city “Dobro-Venedik” meaning “Good Venice”. This was because the people of Dubrovnik were generally less hostile to them than the Venetians. At the end, the name Dubrovnik resulted.


This one is quite easy. Rijeka means river. It is related to a river flowing through it called Rijecina (“giant river”).


As is probably quite known, Split is a home to the vast palace of Emperor Diocletian. The city’s original name was Spalato, a word which ancient Romans used to describe a large palace, while Italians used it for the complete opposite – a small palace. To see which fits better, you will have to see the site yourself. The local plant known as brnistra is called aspalathos in Greek, so it probably had its share of influence on Split’s name. Back in the day, residents used to joke that the famous “banana split” originated from the city.


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