New East Digital Archive

Remembering Croatia’s oldest bookstore

Remembering Croatia's oldest bookstore
Morpurgo, the oldest bookstore in Split, founded in 1860. Image: Ina Skenderi / Facebook

11 July 2017

Morpurgo, the third oldest bookstore in Europe and a historic meeting point for Croatian intellectuals, has closed, symbolising a tragic end to one of Split’s most cherished cultural hubs. The closure was due to the collapse of Algoritam MK, its parent company, which collapsed in May. Since Algoritam’s fall, Morpurgo’s fate was a ticking time bomb.

Its quaint, green wooden door was not just a gateway to a store scattered with books old and new, but a gateway into the cultural community of Split, Croatia’s second largest city. Morpurgo was the meeting place for generations of Split’s intellectuals as well as the birthplace of the Croatian National Revival.

Cultural figures in Croatia have publicly vocalised their sadness, mourning the loss of their spiritual home. Mani Gotovac, the former Director of the Croatian National Theatre, described it as the “centre” of her life, whilst Arsen Mužić, a well-known Split poet, told Balkan Insight: “It was a special place. When I was looking for a book, Morpurgo was always my first choice to go and ask for it.”

The new mayor of Split, Andro Krstulović Opara, has expressed his desire to preserve significant cultural monuments such as Morpurgo, suggesting there is a degree of hope for the bookstore. For now, though, its green door is firmly closed, and the Croatian artistic community grieves in its shadow.

Source: Balkan Insight