Glagolitic Murals


Ekonomski fakultet u Osijeku,
Trg Ljudevita Gaja 7, 
31000 Osijek, Hrvatska

Vladimir Prelog

Vladimir Prelog – king of chemistry
Sarajevo, 23 July 1906 – Zürich, 7 January 1998

The extent of my contribution will be judged best in a hundred years.
My job is done. And in this matter I feel like a tiny knot in a massive tapestry. Vladimir Prelog
on the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize in 1975 

The Earth is chiral[1]
Enjoy the symmetry wherever you find it.
Vladimir Prelog


Vladimir Prelog was born in Sarajevo. He received his primary education and a part of his secondary education in Zagreb, completing the remaining two years of secondary education in Osijek, where his interest in chemistry was sparked by his chemistry teacher, Ivan Kurija. At the age of 15, he published his first scientific paper in the renowned journal Chemiker – Zeitung. He completed his chemistry studies in Prague, earning a doctoral degree from the Czech Technical University. He worked for some time in the laboratory of a chemical wholesale company and then taught organic chemistry at the Technical Faculty in Zagreb. He left for Switzerland at the invitation of Lavoslav Ružička to join him at the incubator for Nobel Prize laureates, i.e. the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). He received the Nobel Prize in 1975 for his research on the stereochemistry of organic molecules and reactions. The Nobel Prize was presented to him in Stockholm by the Swedish King, Carl XVI Gustav.

Vladimir Prelog lived in many countries, but Croatia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland as well as the towns of his youth – Osijek, Zagreb and Sarajevo he held dear to his heart and would often mention them. He received honorary doctoral degrees from a number of universities and became an honorary member of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences and other academies of sciences worldwide. He last visited Croatia in 1989 when he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Osijek.

Vladimir Prelog was a polyglot and an apt narrator. After he died in Zürich, the urn with his remains was brought to Zagreb and is now kept in the memorial tomb of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts at Mirogoj. Vladimir Prelog was dubbed the king of chemistry by the American chemist Barry Sharpless and he has held this informal title ever since.


[1]Chirality (derived from the Greek cheir – hand) is a property of an object that cannot be superimposed onto its mirror image. Chiral objects have two forms (left and right), e.g. snail shells, screws, spirals, human hands. Achiral objects are, for example, a glass, a ball, or a square. In addition to everyday objects, molecules also have chirality. Methane, water, oxygen, carbon monoxide and dioxide, as well as nitrogen molecules, etc. are achiral molecules. Most amino acids, sugar molecules, nucleic acids, etc. are chiral. Chiral molecules form part of all living beings including humans.