Croatian National Theater: HNK Zajc in Rijeka (including 2021 program)

Full house at Hrvatsko Naradno Kazaliste Zajc in Rijeka
Image by HNK Zajc

The Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc, Hrvatsko narodno kazalište or HNK Zajc for short, is a well-known Croatian theater situated in the city center of Rijeka. With its rich annual program consisting of opera, ballet, drama, and concerts, it is one of the most visited and favorite theaters in Croatia. The theater’s program is a combination of classic and contemporary, but also domestic and international.

The exterior of the building was built in a renaissance style, while the interior is decorated in baroque style. HNK Zajc has a large hall with floor seats, mezzanine, two floors of boxes and a balcony with a total of 677 seats.

2020/2021 Program and Schedule

The theater’s program includes Croatian drama, opera, concerts, ballet, Italian drama, and chamber concerts.

Full theater program can be found here.

Full schedule can be found here.

How to Buy Tickets

Ticket prices vary from 30 to 200 kuna and depend on the seat position and the type of performance. You can check all the pricing categories and prices here.

There is an option to buy a theater card for the price of 120 kuna. That card offers a 50% discount on regular ticket prices and 30% off concerts.

It is possible to get a group discount, an individual discount, a first-minute offer, and even a free entrance in special occasions. The list of all the special discounts can be found here as well as at the bottom of this post translated into English.

Online tickets can be bought here.

Regular tickets can be bought at the sales office.

Ivan pl Zajc National Theater in Rijeka
Image by Wikipedia

Theater Location and Contact Information

Phone: +385 (0)51 355 924, +385 (0)51 355 917

Email: [email protected]

Address: Blagajna HNK Ivana pl. Zajca, Verdijeva 5a, 51000 Rijeka

You can find full contact information by theater department here.


History of the HNK Zajc in Rijeka

The first HNK Zajc theater building was built in 1765 and used for different purposes, one of which was a casino. A new theater was constructed in 1805. This architectural masterpiece was opened by notable merchant Andrija Ljudevit Adamić, so the theater was called the “Adamić Theater”. With plenty of Italian and German performances, the theater became a favorite cultural place for the next 80 years.

At the end of the 19th century, the Rijeka government decided to demolish the theater for security reasons. Many European theaters were destroyed by fires and Adamić  Theater didn’t satisfy the safety measures demanded by the Austro-Hungarian empire.

A new modern and contemporary theater building was built and opened in 1885 that met European safety standards. It was an architectural gem featuring ceilings painted by Franz Matsch and Gustav and Ernest Klimt as well as ornaments and statues constructed by August Benvenuti. The theater also featured the first electrical bulb and the first telephone in Rijeka (Fiume).

Citizens enjoyed operas and comedies performed by famous artists from Venice, Milano, and other popular theater centers. Numerous famous artists performed in the new theater including composers Giacomo Puccini and Pietro Mascagni, tenor Enrico Caruso, and opera singer Beniamino Gigli.

Many actors and actresses have performed in the national theater in Rijeka such as Ernest Rossi, Ermeteo Novelli, Ermeteo Zacconi, well-known tragic actress Sarah Bernhardt, and Irma Gramatica of Rijeka.

In 1945, the official National Theater in Rijeka was established. Prior to 1945, Croatian theater artists and Croatian language were forbidden. In 1946, the first Croatian show was performed, called “Dubravka”, written by Ivan Gundulić.

The first ballet and opera “Nikola Šubić Zrinski” by Ivan pl. Zajc was soon performed, and the theater was later named after him in 1953. In 1991, the theater was renamed to Croatian National Theater Ivan pl. Zajc.

Ceiling of Zajc National Theater in Rijeka
Image by HRT

Present day

The Croatian National Theater Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka is one of the most visited Croatian theaters. It offers plenty of quality performances within its four artistic branches: Croatian and Italian Drama, the Symphonic Opera and ballet.

In addition to performances, you may tour the fascinating atrium, auditorium, foyer, and gallery with an English-speaking guide. Information about English tours is available here.

Available Ticket Discounts

Group Visit (more than 15 tickets)

  • 20% discount with a certified offer form
  • 40% discount for Rijeka’s school students
  • 50% discount for other school students

Individual Tickets

  • 15% discount for ORYX Asistencija members
  • 20% discount for members of STUH (Tourism and Service Trade Union of Croatia)
  • 20% discount for members of Croatian Chamber of Dental Medicine
  • 20% discount for FINA’s employees (Rijeka’s region)
  • 20% discount for employees of Ericsson Nikola Tesla Servisi d.o.o.
  • 20% discount for employees of Health center of Primorsko-Goranska županija
  • 20% discount for members of SSSH (Savez samostalnih sindikata Hrvatske)
  • 30% discount for employees of the University of Rijeka
  • 30% discount for members of the Independent Trade Union of Workers in Secondary Education of Croatia
  • 30% discount for members of the Independent Trade Union of Science and Higher Education
  • 40% discount for owners of the card of Hrvatska glazbena mladež (HGM), students and retired persons
  • 50% discount for owners of the card of European Youth Card (EYCA), ISIC, Hostelling International, AIESEC and Erasmus Student Network Rijeka (ESN Rijeka)

Free Visit

Free visit is available for:

  • Members of Society of Disabled Persons Rijeka (only to immobile persons and persons with an escort)
  • Disabled persons of Domovinski rat
  • Associations of disabled persons
  • Students with an average of 4.5+
  • Unemployed persons

First Minute Offer

Tickets can be bought with a discount from 15th to 25th of the month for shows in the following month.

Other Important Information about visiting HNK Zajc

  • Discounts are not available for premiere shows, guest shows and special events
  • To get a discount, you have to enclose a corresponding document
  • Only one ticket can be bought with a discount
  • Tickets can be returned or replaced at least 24 hours before the show
  • Reserved tickets can be picked up at the theater

Other National Theaters in Croatia

You may also learn about other national theaters in Croatia at the below links:

Have you seen a show at HNK Zajc? What do you think of the theater and what they offer?

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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