The tower of Lotršćak is one of the oldest standing towers left from the 13th-century wall that used to surround the medieval town Gradec. The Lotršćak tower had an accompanying door which used to be locked every evening, so in a way, the citizens of Gradec lived under a curfew. The name Lotršćak stems from Latin campana latronculorum (the bell of thieves), which is exactly what this tower was used for: ringing its bell would warn the citizens of thieves coming and that the door’s about to close. Today, there’s lots to do and see in close vicinity of the Lotršćak tower, and here’s our list:
1. Take a ride on the world’s shortest railway
From Zagreb’s central Jelačić square head east on the Ilica street, one of the oldest and longest streets in Zagreb. Walk some 200 meters and stop when a tiny cobbled street Tomićeva opens to your right: voila, it’s a funicular! The ride lasts about 60 seconds, and in that minute, you’ll be elevated 30 meters from the downtown modern Zagreb to the historical centre Gradec. As of 1890, this funicular has been transporting commuting citizens between the Upper Town and Downtown Zagreb. Today, the funicular is also the safest public transport with zero accidents in its running history.
2. Arrive just under the tower by 11:55 AM and wait for it
Wait for what? Oh, you’ll hear it. It may help to look up to the tower’s top right window and see what’s peeking outside. Oh yes, it’s a cannon (Grički top) and it’s about to shoot...a paper canon! What you’re witnessing is a tradition born at the end of the 19th century, a cannonball shot at noon to signify the exact time so that the churches may start ringing their bells and citizens adjust their watches accordingly. (It’s quite a surprise if you’re standing there not knowing what’s about to happen, so if you want to tease someone who’s earned it, buy them an ice cream just before the cannon shoots and see if they manage to keep it in their hands).
3. Snap a few photos of the panorama of Zagreb
The entire Strossmayer promenade on either side of the Lotršćak tower is photo-stop worthy, as panoramic views of downtown’s Zagreb make a really nice background scenery to your photos. Facing the downtown and standing right under the tower Lotrscak, head left to find a statue of writer Matoš, artwork by Kožarić, whose other sculptures you may find across Zagreb. Sit down on the bench and watch the world slowly spin around its axis like Matoš once did.
4. Have a walk in the Strossmayer promenade
From Lotrscak tower, head west and slow down your step as there’s lots to take in: the fresh breeze as a refreshing hello from the Medvednica mountain, the view over the downtown rooftops and the comforting shade of chestnut alley that goes along the promenade. If you happen to be in Zagreb during the summer, there’s an ongoing event called Strossmartre, with exhibitions, puppet shows and live concerts in the evenings. Look for Gradec open-air cinema to enjoy an evening screening with the locals.
5. Leave a lovelock as a vow to your love
Standing just in front of the Lotršćak tower facing the downtown, head left again to pass the statue of writer Matoš on the bench and once you’ve reached the corner, keep heading left to reach another panoramic plateau, Katarina square. Views over Zagreb’s cathedral and bishop town Kaptol, and far in the distance, Mirogoj cemetery open to your right. You may place your lovelock on the fence, but only if you’re certain of it, ‘cause the plateau built in the 19th century will only sustain the weight of true love.
6. Throw a few coins to the street musician
Spotted daily when the weather is nice, the street musician plays on his guitar charmingly and if you like the atmosphere he creates with his notes, give him a few coins, he’ll appreciate it.
For more local stories and some company through these cobbled streets, book a SNIP tour and find out more.