Roque’s Gardens are a unique historical site that has a monumental urban, architectural and horticultural value. As the historian Nada Klaić writes, in the medieval period it used to be mons vigilarum or the hill of the guards. It was a place where common people used to live and some poor women who dared to heal their neighbors (or had some other skills that their masters did not like) were even burnt as witches.
St Roque Chapel was probably finished in 1655 and adjacent cemetery was a logical urban consequence. In the 18th Ct only poor citizenry was buried there but as the city started to grow, in the 19th Ct wealthier citizens would find their peace there and in 1811 the Jewish plot was arranged separately.
After Mirogoj cemetery had been finished in 1877, all the cemeteries within the city were closed.
Roque’s Gardens entered the planning of the city in 1887, but nothing was done, and the idea of making the gardens that would connect the expanding downtown with cottage and noble neighborhoods on the slopes became relevant again in 1906.
Meanwhile, the first family villa already emerged: family Auer gave that task to the acclaimed architect Viktor Kovačić. Auer villa was finished in 1904. Soon the house Frangeš followed, while Kovačić was given the task to rearrange the old cemetery.
The second and third Auer house were erected, and by the WWI the dentist Eugen Rado also built a house there – the architect was Hugo Ehrlich. Ehrlich continues to develop the gardens, and the significant contribution was also made by Milan Lenuci, author of the famous Zagreb Green Horseshoe.
In 1918 the northwestern platform of the hill was destined for further construction of the villas. But the city administration was clever and cultivated art: it was given to artists, with the obligation to donate their art work to the city. So soon after, the famous Croatian artists of the time built their houses and ateliers there: Nasta Rojc, Ljubo Babić and Jozo Kljaković. Today, the legacy of Jozo Kljaković is still alive in the form of memorial collection amidst the Roque’s Gardens, on number 4.