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Six miles out from the middle of Zagreb, in an underground walkway by a main road in the Stenjevec district, a little stainless steel ball lies affixed to a plaque by the sidewalk. A simple sign reads “Pluto.” It is a far-flung component of a work of art that spans the Croatian capital.
The center of the solar system
Since the mid-90s, Ivan Kozaric’s sculpture Prizemljeno Sunce (which means “Grounded Sun”) has stood in a Zagreb city street. It is a popular Zagreb landmark. But that wasn’t enough for Davor Preis, who recognized that any self-respecting sun deserves a solar system.
So over the last few years, Preis has quietly added a number of other spheres, taking care to ensure that each planet is correctly proportioned, both in respect to size and orbit, to Kozaric’ sun.
Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are all within the very heart of the city, with the outlying planets each increasingly distant. Preis’ ingenious scheme is now well-mapped, so giving every incentive for dedicated urban explorers to head out of the center of Zagreb into the outlying suburbs of the capital.
We tracked down Jupiter on a road called Vocarska, an unexceptional street of the kind you might find in good neighborhoods of many European capital cities. The road is in Zagreb’s Medvescak district, an easy walk east from the city center. It is home to some pleasant villas, a number of university buildings, a Croatian Catholic radio station, the American International School, the Ukrainian embassy and the planet Jupiter. You will find Jupiter just beside the pavement near 71 Vocarska.
A secret mission
Davor Preis’ installation was created by stealth, and it took more than a year for Zagreb residents to twig that the individual planets they encountered on Zagreb sidewalks might be part of a larger ensemble. Then the hunt was on for the full solar system, as each component planet was tracked down–even tiny Pluto in distant Stenjevec.