The Hidden Romance of Zagreb’s History

Ljerka Šram, Croatian actress and once one of the most beautiful Croatian actresses and women from Zagreb, is the protagonist of our love story today. She won over Milivoj Dežman’s hearth, who was a writer from Zagreb. Ljerka lived from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century.

At the mention of Ljerka Šram and Milivoj Dežman, many will immediately remember spooky and abandoned Brestovac sanatorium located on the slopes of Medvednica, which Dežman built himself to provide his love, Ljerka Šram, with the best possible conditions for treating tuberculosis.

Ljerka and Milivoj’s acquaintance dates back to their early childhood, starting in what is now Mesnička Street. Ljerka spent her childhood in a house at the junction of Mesnička and Streljačka Street, while Dežman lived in Mesnička.

Ljerka Šram’s father was a prominent lawyer and the Vice President of the Croatian Parliament. Dežman’s father was a well-known poet and doctor, so their parents also socialized.

Ljerka’s beauty won over Dežman, who, according to the words of Zagreb chronicler Zvonimir Milčec, decided: “Her or no one!”

Only on the eve of leaving for studies in Graz did he muster the strength to confess his true feelings, and from Ljerka, he received a promise that she would wait for him. During his studies, they exchanged letters, but Ljerka’s letters stopped coming. Dežman found out the reason when he received from his mother a poster from the opening of the Croatian theater in which in front of Ljerka Šram’s name it was written “Mrs”, which meant she was married. Upon arrival in Zagreb, Dežman learned that Aleksandar Isaković, a bank clerk, won over Ljerka’s heart.

Due to embezzlement in the First Croatian Savings Bank, Isaković disappeared from Zagreb, and Dežman wholeheartedly accepted the abandoned Ljerka and her son from a failed marriage.

Dežman always openly loved Ljerka Šram, but he mostly received respect and gratitude from her, and it will never be revealed whether this was real or just platonic love. However, they never got married.

The end of this sad love story is known, and a reminder of it is the equally painful and abandoned Brestovac building which was once a popular and recognized spa, but today it is just a building counting down its last years of existence.

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of discoverzagreb.com. I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and discoverzagreb.com, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

Read more

Stock Exchange Palace: A Landmark in Croatian Architecture

The corner semi-enclosed four-story building was constructed from 1923 to 1927 based on the competition project by Viktor Kovačić from 1921. The construction was...

Guardians of Zagreb: The Evolution of Gradec’s Medieval Fortifications

In the construction of Gradec, after King Bela IV granted the municipality the Golden Bull, typical features of medieval city architecture emerged, along with...

Rebuilding History: The Dawn of Zagreb’s New Era with the 16th Century City Hall

In the 16th century, Zagreb and Croatia were significantly impacted by the Hundred Years' Croatian-Ottoman War. The century concluded with a major earthquake on...

The Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb: A Beacon of Art and Culture

Nestled in the heart of Zagreb stands the Croatian National Theatre (HNK), a majestic beacon of culture and history. This architectural marvel, officially opened...