Thursday, 8 July 2021

Zagreb Grič Cannon: Explosive Noon Reminder

July 9, 2021 - Zagreb Grič Cannon - a reminder of noon, and a reason to avoid the centre if you aren't a fan of loud sounds. Get your noise-canceling headphones and read about the cannon's history, courtesy of TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac.

If you find yourself walking around a wider Zagreb centre (such as Savska Cesta or Marin Držić Avenue) around noon, and you focus on the sounds of the city, you may notice a weird sound in between traffic and people passing. An unusual sound, as if someone dropped a heavy box. But, if around noon, you find yourself at Ban Jelačić square or upper town, you will hear a clear and loud BANG! Fear not, as this is not a terrorist attack, and you weren't lied to when your tourist agency swore to god Zagreb is safe from such horrors. The heart-stopping bang is a signifier of noon. If you hear a boom at 11:59 or 12:01, your watch is behind a minute. The cannon states that clear and very, very loud.

Loudest time checker you could think of

Grič cannon first started signaling noon on January 1, 1877, and was located at the State's Meteorology department, back in times when Croatia was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. It wasn't until 1927 that it was moved to Fort Lotršćak where it is situated today.

According to the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery's official website, Fort Lotrščak was named after a bell and comes from campana latrunculorum, which is Latin for „Bell of Thieves“ that rang before closing city gates. Historians aren't exactly sure what the Fort looked like in medieval times, although it is speculated based on old sketches that it had only two floors. It wasn't until 1857 that romanticistic architecture gave the fortress today's four floors and an additional tower at the very top (from which you have a breath-taking view of Zagreb today).

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Fort Lotrščak © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News

In the 17th century, the Fort served as trading storage and had various other ways to adapt to the need of Zagreb and Zagreb's citizens at different times. At one point, when the City was out of money to restore and repair the Fort, it gave Lotrščak to citizens for rent. Citizens who wanted the Fort also had the obligation of maintaining it, and in case of enemy assault, it was to be returned back to the City for defense purposes.  

Warning shot 

Speaking of defense purposes, an old legend says how this cannon managed to save Zagreb with a single shot from the Ottoman conquerors. Legend has it that the Ottoman commander Hasan Pasha (Hasan Paša) settled his army at the coast of the Sava river, in today's area of Novi Zagreb. He was preparing to cross the river and invade the city. But before that, he was about to have lunch one day, and Zagreb fired from the cannon in the Ottoman's direction, close to Hasan and blasting a chicken he wanted to eat. The shot scared the hell out of the Ottomans and they retreated, leaving Zagreb intact.

Changing arsenal

Over the course of time, there were five different Grič cannons that served the purpose of signaling noon. The current canon was given during Zagreb's Univerzijada in 1987, courtesy of the Yugoslavian National Army (JNA) as Croatia at the time was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ).

As for the first three, you can find them today in the collection of the Zagreb City Museum. The first cannon originated in 1876 and was replaced by the second cannon in the unidentified year at the end of the 19th century. The third cannon you can see in Zagreb City Museum, and the first that was situated on Lotrščak fort, was introduced in 1928, and it was made by restoring a Polish cannon from 1912.

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Three cannons showcased at Zagreb City Museum  © Ivor Kruljac / Total Croatia News   

So finding yourself in front of Fort Lotrščak (whose entrance is located right next to the Upper town funicular station) is not recognizable if you are not a fan of loud noise as it can give you a sound fright even down below at Jelačić square and the surrounding area. But, for the brave ones, the Grič cannon can provide a unique souvenir from Zagreb. It doesn't use live ammo (the cannon is modified so it can't), but it does fire several pieces of thick cardboard that then flies down to the area underneath Lotrščak's entrance and smelling like gunpowder.

Ceased fire

Despite being a regular background sound for the experience of living in Zagreb, Grič cannon went through periods when it ceased fire and stopped making statements. The first such instance was World War I and then followed by the war in the nineties. Most recently, the cannon was silenced after the Zagreb earthquake on March 22, 2020, but it re-fired hot and heavy sometimes in May 2020. However, followed by the December 29th Petrinja earthquake, which was also felt heavy in Zagreb, the cannon is silent even today.

„We are not quite sure when it will re-fire“, briefly commented the Zagreb Tourist Board member that welcomed me in Fort Lotrščak, one of the locations where Zagreb TB has a regular stand. Still, despite the cannon being silenced, you can climb and sightsee Lotrščak, the famous cannon as well as the watchtower on top of the Fort, for the prize of 20 kunas.

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One of the exhibitions at Lotrščak © Kula Lotrščak

The Lotrščak Fort address is Tomićeva 9, and the Fort occasionally also hosts various exhibitions at times too. But, the cannon is a regular feature, and there are lots of info on the history of the cannon and the Fort itself there too on the walls- both in English and Croatian.    

Learn more about Zagreb on our TC page.

For more about history in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Around Zagreb: Meet Zagreb Statues, Dressed for Tie Day

ZAGREB October 18, 2020 - Happy Tie Day! Worn today by millions across the world, the tie is a Croatian invention. In celebration of its Croatian origin, some of the most prominent monuments in Zagreb are each year dressed temporarily in red cravats. In these photos, we meet Zagreb statues on Tie Day

Croatia is today celebrating Tie Day. The country is the birthplace of the necktie or cravat - the forerunner of the tie worn by millions across the world. In the Croatian capital, Zagreb statues have been fitted with red cravats to mark the occasion. They are instantly noticeable to all of the city's visitors and residents, reminding us of the tie's Croatian origin.

IMG_6805.jpegJosip Jelačić, the most famous and most prominently placed of all Zagreb statues

The cravat originated in the 1630s and was worn by members of the Croatian military. Renowned for their ferocious fighting and bravery, Croatian soldiers fought in the army of King Louis XIII of France. Ever holding a sharp eye for the aesthetic, the French admired the Croats' red neckties and took them back to France where they were popularised. The French word cravat describes how the tie should be worn – a la Croat.

Tie Day is 18 October and to mark the occasion, over 40 city monuments are today wearing red cravats. These figures are scattered across the city, though some of the most famous are located in the heart of the Croatian capital. They can be visited on an untaxing stroll around beautiful Zagreb city centre. In this photos series, join us as we meet Zagreb statues on Tie Day.

IMG_6745.jpegKing Tomislav, facing the main train station - one of the most-striking Zagreb statues

King Tomislav of Croatia

The 10th-century first king of Croatia, Tomislav fended off encroaching influences from all sides in order to hold his kingdom together. That it fell apart after his death perhaps tells us something about the man's singular abilities. He stands impressively at the entrance to the three incredible parks in the heart of Zagreb, facing the main train station. It is thanks to him that Tomislav has remained such a popular boy's name in Croatia.


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August Šenoa

Born to an ethnic German and Slovak family, it is for his contributions to Croatian literature, language and identity that August Šenoa is remembered. Although he passed away aged just 43, so influential are his books and writings that he is regarded as the father of the Croatian novel and of modern national literature. 'I have never seen more horrible images, nor deeper sorrow in my life,' he wrote of the destruction visited upon his home city Zagreb in the earthquake of 1880. He died of an illness caught while assisting others in the earthquake's aftermath.

IMG_6800.jpegOne of the more contemporary Zagreb statues, Antun Gustav Matoš sits overlooking Zagreb on Strossmayer Promenade

Antun Gustav Matoš

A giant of Croatian modernist literature, Antun Gustav Matoš's wide-ranging legacy contains poetry, journalism, essays, art critique, short stories and beautifully emotive travel writing. He was separated from his home country of Croatia for 13 years of his 41-year existence, at first, as he was studying overseas, later, because he had deserted from the army. However, his home was never far from his thoughts. Croatian landscapes, Zagorje and the city of Zagreb are common locations depicted in his work (although he was actually born in Tovarnik, Vukovar-Srijem, eastern Croatia).

IMG_6755.jpegAndrija Medulić has two Zagreb statues. You can find this one at the southern entrance to Zrinjevac park, where no less than five Zagreb statues are wearing red cravats.

Andrija Medulić

Born in Zadar in 1510, Andrija Medulić was an artist who worked in fresco, painting and etching. Born to Italian parents and active as a painter in Venice, it's doubtful he ever heard the Croatian version of his family name. He certainly didn't use it. His works are kept in some of the most famous European museums including the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Uffizi and Pitti galleries in Venice and also in the Graphic Collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb.

IMG_6737.jpegAndrija Medulić has two Zagreb statues

IMG_6749.jpegIvan Mažuranić is one of several Zagreb statues you can find in Zrinjevac park

Ivan Mažuranić

Born into a regular, non-aristocratic household in Novi Vinodolski in 1814, Ivan Mažuranić nevertheless rose to the status of Ban of Croatia. He was the first commoner to do so. A poet, linguist, lawyer and politician, he is considered to be one of the most important figures in Croatia's political and cultural life in the mid-19th century thanks to his contributions to the development of the Croatian law system, economics, linguistics, and poetry.

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St George

A saint of both the Christian and Islamic religions, George of Lydda was the Christian son of an ethnically-Greek member of the Roman army. He followed in his father's footsteps and was popularised during the Crusades for his refusal to renounce his faith. He is often referenced as a slayer of dragons, as he is here on Radićeva - his horse stands on top of the slain beast. Despite this clear depiction, and St George being the patron saint of England (he is also claimed in the same role by Ethiopia, Georgia, and Catalonia and Aragon in Spain), this English writer still had to ask the tour guide on a Segway in the background who was depicted in this Zagreb statues.

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Tin Ujević

One of the more contemporary Croatians to have a statue in Zagreb, Tin Ujević was a Croatian poet, considered by many to be the greatest poet in 20th century Croatian literature. Born in Vrgorac in the Dalmatian hinterland, his continued studies brought him to Zagreb where he studied under Antun Gustav Matoš. In addition to his poetry, Ujević also wrote essays, short stories, literature critique, and worked as a translator on many documents of a philosophical nature from many foreign languages. He lived in many major cities throughout his life including Paris, Split and Belgrade as is remembered as a bit of a bohemian. He is known to have frequented cafe bars in the area around Kino Europa, where his statue now stands.

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Marija Juric Zagorka

One of the most widely-read and popular Croatian writers of all time, Marija Juric Zagorka was a trailblazer for women's standing in Croatian society and for liberalism. Highly educated and intelligent, she was forced into an abusive marriage to a Hungarian man 17 years her elder by her own mother. Who could imagine a close Croatian family member meddling so woefully in the affairs of another? She broke free of this disastrous relationship and started life afresh in Zagreb, where she became the country's first female journalist in the 1890s. She died aged 84 and left behind a colossal written legacy, so it's perhaps fitting that her statue now rests in the small, peaceful park area aside Tkalčićeva.

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Giorgio Giulio Clovio aka Juraj Julije Klović

Regarded as the last very notable artist in the tradition of the illuminated manuscript's long, original era, Giorgio Giulio Clovio was a painter associated with the Italian High Renaissance. Born in the Kotor village of Grižane in 1498, his works are today among the best preserved and most cherished within his chosen mediums.

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Fran Krsto Frankopan

The last male descendant of the Croatian noble house of Frankopan, Fran Krsto is best remembered as the co-founder of a failed attempt (alongside his brother-in-law Ban Petar Zrinski) to rebel against Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary Leopold 1st. He was also a writer of poetry.

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Nikola Tesla

An inventor and hugely innovative engineer, Nikola Tesla is best known for pioneering the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. AC enables electricity to be provided safely to every home, street and business today. He was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan, in Lika, present-day Croatia. He spent most of his adult life working in America and mystique continues to surround him because many of his wondrous ideas remain unrealised. He also worked within the fields of early x-rays, wireless power supply, electromagnetic radiation and radio waves, before his death in 1943. He sits in a pondering position on a street that also bears his name.

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August Cesarec

A native of Zagreb, August Cesarec was a Croatian left-wing intellectual, writer and politician. As a youing man, he was a patriotic idealist. This lead him into trouble when he and cohorts were discovered to be plotting an assassination on Croatia's then-Ban. He was imprisoned and while in captivity, discovered and turned to socialist politics. He wrote poems, plays, short stories and novels and participated in literary magazines run by Miroslav Krleža. Alongside most of the left-wing intelligentsia of Croatia, he was arrested and imprisoned by the fascist Ustasha regime at the start of the Second World War. Following a failed escape attempt, he and others were shot by the Ustasha in Maksimir woods.

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Ruđer Bošković

A polymath who operated as a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, philosopher, diplomat, poet, theologian and Jesuit priest, Dubrovnik-born Ruđer Bošković is remembered for many groundbreaking discoveries, not least he absence of atmosphere on the Moon, a precursor of atomic theory and many contributions to astronomy. He lends his name to the largest Croatian research institute working in the fields of natural sciences and technology. The Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb has been responsible for countless scientific discoveries and is famous all over the world.

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Josip Jelačić

Former Ban of Croatia and commander of all Habsburg troops within the country, Josip Jelačić's reputation can be difficult to understand. He sought autonomy for Croatia while remaining loyal to the Habsburgs, helping to put down similar moves towards independence in neighbouring Hungary. He was born in Novi Sad, Vojvodina (present-day Serbia) in 1801 and the very house where he was born was bought from private owners by the Serbian state and gifted the country's Croatian minority in 2020. The most famous statue in Zagreb because of its location on the main square (also named after Josip Jelačić), he used to face north, signifying the Ban's struggle for autonomy from Hungary. Communists removed the statue. Following Croatia's independence, it was put back facing south, as though warding off invaders from the direction of Bosnia. That doesn't seem to have worked so well (joke!) 'Beneath the horse' is a popular place to arrange meeting a friend.

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Josip Juraj Strossmayer

Osijek-born Josip Juraj Strossmayer was a Croatian politician and Catholic bishop. His desire was simultaneously the unification of all south Slavic peoples and the unification of lands that strongly resemble modern-day Croatia into a single autonomous region. He used church money to build schools, libraries, galleries and churches and to help the poor. This incredible statue of Strossmayer was made by Croatia's greatest ever sculptor, the internationally renowned Ivan Meštrović. It sits inside a park also named after the bishop.

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On these links you can check out the other features in our Around Zagreb series:

AROUND ZAGREB VIDEO: Zagreb to Zagorje in a Yugo Car

Around Zagreb Mirogoj Cemetery on All Saints


PHOTOS: Around Zagreb Dolac Market with a Michelin-starred Chef





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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Cavtat

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Dubrovnik Cathedral

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Stradun (Placa)

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Park Orsula

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Dominican Monastery

Friday, 6 June 2014

Split Palaces In And Around The Palace

When someone mention the word Palace in Split, association is more than obvious, Diocletian's Palace. It's the main city landmark, and actually the city itself, because of the life that's going on within its walls for 17 centuries.

However, through rich and turbulent history of Split many noble families and distinguished citizens built their residences in what we today know and cherish as the historical centre. Since they were built, some of them were turned into museums, like Split City Museum in Papalic Palace, or Emanuel Vidovic Gallery in Andric house. Others were converted into shops , even supermarkets like the Small Papalic Palace, or restaurants, or bars in Karepic, Cipci and Marulic palaces. One of the most beautiful, Ciprianis, now hosts one political part, unfortunately not very interested for meaning of that house in Split history. And yes, there are luxury apartments in some of them, like in Grisogono and Deskovic. Unfortunately, there are also those which are neglected and deserted, inhabited, for example Albert.

What is important, though, is that all of them are excellent examples of architecture styles over centuries in Split. It's also nice alternative way for Split sightseeing which will bring you excellent insight into historical layers that city is made of. While walking from one to another, you can see all other important landmarks, and info plaques will tell you all you need to know about each one of these palaces. Just follow our map available here and watch for buildings from our photos.

Andric house

Kuća Andrić

Alberti Palace

Palača Alberti

Augubio Palace

Palača Augubio1

Bajamonti-Deskovic Palace

Palača Bajamonti-Dešković

Cambi Palace

Palača Cambi

Cindro Palace

Palača Cindro

Cipci Palace

Palača Cipci

Dragisic (De Caris) Geremia

Palača Dragišić-De Caris-Geremia

Dragisic (De Caris) Palace

Palača Dragišić-De Caris

Grisogono Palace

Palača Grisogono

Karepic Palace

Palača Karepić

Palace at the Golden Gate

Palača kod Zlatnih vrata

Palace at the Iron Gate

Palača kod Željeznih vrata

Marulic Palace

Palača Marulić

Milesi Palace

Palača Milesi

Palace at Dosud

Palača na Dosudu

Nakic Palace

Palača Nakić

Small Papalic Palace

Palača Papalić mala

Big Papalic Palace

Palača Papalić-velika1

Pavlovic Palace

Palača Pavlović

Skocibusic Palace

Palača Skočibušić

Tartaglia Palace

Palača Tartaglia

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