See in Zagreb

Zagreb Cathedral

By 11 January 2017

Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol is a Roman Catholic church and not only the tallest building in Croatia, but also one of the most monumental Gothic church in this part of Europe. Its spires can be seen from many locations in the city.

Its turbulent history goes all the way back to 1093 when king Ladislaus moved the bishop's chair here and proclaimed the existing church as a cathedral. The building was later destroyed by the Tatars in 1242, but rebuilt again a few years later. The cathedral remained unchanged for a few centuries, but then in the 15th century when the Ottoman Empire invaded neighbouring countries and parts of Croatia as well, fortification walls were built around the cathedral for protection, and some of them are still intact.

Then in 1880 a disastrous earthquake hit Zagreb and the cathedral was severely damaged. The main nave collapsed and the tower was damaged beyond repair. The restoration of the cathedral in the Neo-Gothic style was led by Hermann Bollé, a famous architect at the time, bringing the cathedral to its present form. As part of that restoration, instead of one which existed previously, two spires of 108 m (354 ft) were raised on the western side. However, the stone used for restoration at that time was of poor quality, so extensive restoration works began 30 years ago and they’re still not finished. Despite the scaffolding, the monumental building with its numerous details which were added throughout the centuries is still one of the most impressive sights in Zagreb.

The interior is equally impressive: you can see an example of the oldest known Slavic alphabet – Glagolythic alphabet (Glagoljica), dating back to the 9th ct. There are various theories about its origins, but the most probable one is that it was created by brothers Cyril and Methodius in order to facilitate the introduction of Christianity in these areas. It was created because common people didn’t understand Latin, which was the common church language at the time and which was very different from the languages used in the area, so they embraced the Glagolythic alphabet because it was more suited for the sounds of the language they used. It stopped being used in the 19th ct, but sources say that its use dropped dramatically since the 16th century

Behind the altar you can see the sarcophagus of the blessed Alojzije Stepinac, whose real grave is located in the crypt underneath, so it’s a place where people come to pray and leave little notes of gratitude once their prayers have been answered.

The cathedral can be visited every day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. (1 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sundays and holidays).

The mass is held Mon-Sat at 7, 8, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., with two additional masses on Sundays – at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.