“Two beautiful hills, the higher one in the west, and the lower one in the east are the place where old Zagreb arose.“ This is the beginning of the city description in one of the oldest tourist handbooks from 1892. Its author, Adolf Hudovski, had marched into Hungary with ban Jelačić in 1848 and some ten years after that he became a city senator. He was held in high esteem for doing what many thought was impossible, i.e. he sortied out the city finances. The administrative unification of the three previously separate parts of the city, followed by a decade of absolutism imposed by Vienna, threw the city finances into disarray leading to many distraint warrants becoming final. Hudovski managed to not only clean the financial mess he had found, but he did that without running up any additional debt.

By writing one of the first city travel handbooks in two languages, Croatian and German, he perpetuated his love of the city and its people: „In the city we stroll the wide, clean and well-decorated streets, and in the older parts of the city we shall not find narrow and dark alleys which would prevent us from enjoying the light and the sun we are so used to.“ He flattered the people as well: „Zagreb is beautiful, kind and clean. Its citizens like everything that is nice and pretty.“

The travel handbook published by Abel Lukšić at the same time, around 1891, bears witness to the same claim, that Zagreb is beautifully situated which makes every foreigner most pleasantly enchanted by its charm. An Austrian author of a travel book published by a well-established publisher Hartleben, A. Heksch, made quite a similar remark: “Zagreb is much more lively, elegant and urban than one might assume from the number of its inhabitants. This is because the Compromise from 1868 made it a centre of the land’s government. It is being busily rebuilt after the earthquake of 1880 which inflicted a lot of damage.”

The most renowned travel handbook publishing house of the 19th ct., K. Baedeker, was known for guidebooks which covered large geographical areas and reliability when the accuracy of the information it provided was in question. Baedeker, who became an eponym for travel handbooks in English as well as in German, was very strict in evaluating hotels, restaurants, people and destinations. In his travel book through Southern Germany and Austria from 1887 he praises the prettily situated city of Zagreb and the beautiful view of the valley of Sava which extends from the Strossmayer Promenade.

According to all these old guidebooks, Zagreb made a great first impression both on domestic and foreign travellers, who would, taking into account the fact it only had about 40,000 inhabitants at the time, be very pleasantly surprised by its urban and sophisticated charm.