CIG in Novi Dvori in Zaprešić, a place of historical and monumental importance

A new experience for tour guides, interpreting cultural heritage in a place where history silently speaks… And we made it speak loudly.

We came to our meeting point and we expected to learn some new skills. I believed that I was going to learn something new that would make me a better tourist guide, to structure the story better. On the first day we met our trainer, Ivana Zrilić, an experienced tourist guide with an excellent sense of ‘good story with a heart’ and skills on how to pass it to participants. 

Our journey to a new way of seeing things began immediately with workshops like describing the trees and what makes one tree different from another. Each of us had a different perception that became obvious to everyone when we each presented them. One tree was a dancer, another was a home, the next one a blossoming young being, but all of them were waiting to be discovered as a unique personality. That was the point at which IE’s Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course revealed itself as something different than expected, something interesting and yet still quite unknown.

Other workshops followed. We searched for unknown facts about the place we were based for the course, which is a place of huge historical and cultural importance for Croatian history and culture. It was the home of Croatian Ban, Josip Jelačić von Bužim, who abolished serfdom in Croatia, introduced Croatian as an official language in parliament and united all Croatian lands for the first time in our history. So it was very challenging for me to try to show a person behind this historical giant, which I decided would be my task. 

We used different techniques: mental maps, descriptions, role playing, reciting, even disguising.
We learned a lot from our trainer, Ivana, but we also learned a lot from each other. How to present, how to see the hidden meaning, how to give meaning with our perspective to a few bricks, unfinished or ruined objects.

At the end we all gave our presentations, which showed us how cultural and historical heritage that stands still as buildings almost forgotten for what they were used for, can speak loudly through the words of an interpreter. We saw people from the 19th century passing by and doing their everyday tasks, smelled the cheese in a milk shop that does not exist anymore and admired a rose garden where today there is only grass.

We managed to make things and people come alive through our imagination and interpretation.
And we all felt it enriched us as human beings and made us better professionals. 

Mihaela Žugec Saračević is a professional tourist guide for Zagreb and Zagreb county, a tourist guide abroad and a human resource specialist in touristic animation. You can contact her at:

To cite this article:
Saračević, Mihaela (2020) 'CIG in Novi Dvori in Zaprešić, a place of historical and monumental importance'. In Interpret Europe Newsletter 3, 2020, 12. Available online:

If you can give your son or daughter only one gift,
let it be enthusiasm.

Bruce Barton