Whether we call impressive building in the middle of Victims of Fascism Square a Mosque, Meštrović’s pavilion or Home of Visual Arts, it’s one of Zagreb’s most instantly recognizable architectural symbols.
Meštrović’s pavilion is the monument to rich and very turbulent history that saw regular changes of function with every new political regime since all governments wanted to use this representative edifice for its own purposes and goals. The building was contrasted in the period 1933 – 1938 following Ivan Meštrović’s design while the blueprints were developed by H. Bilinić and L. Horvat. Originally, the intention was to use the building both as the monument to the Yugoslav king Peter I of Serbia and the Home of Visual Arts. At the time the building had been already called the Meštrović Pavilion as the expression of gratitude to its creator. Already in 1941, with the outburst of WWII in the region and the proclamation of quisling so-called Independent State of Croatia, the building had to change its function and was used as the city’s mosque. Fir that purpose, three gigantic minarets were built around it and the interior was thoroughly redesigned.
Despite the fact that the building started functioning as a mosque only in 1944, which was stopped in 1945, the local jargon still knows it as a ‘mosque’. In the socialist Yugoslavia the Mosque initially served as the Museum of National Liberation and later on the Museum of National Revolution. The interior was redesigned yet again but this time according to the project in the hands of the architect Vjenceslav Richter. In 1993, the building was finally given its initial purpose, i.e. it became the Home of Croatian Visual Artist. Extensive works on renovation and restoration took place in the period between 2001 and 2006.