Lotrščak Tower (pronounced Lot-rus-chak) was a former fortification tower, originally from the medieval 13th century. It is situated on top of a hill by what used to be an entrance through the city wall into Gradec. The bells on top of the tower were used to alert citizens of Gradec that it was time to return home before the city gates were locked for the night; around the time of sunset. Nowadays, since the city wall no longer exists in its full form, people can walk freely from Kaptol to Gradec and vice versa anytime of the day, meaning the bells no longer ring.
One tradition does remain though which begun in 1877, although some people believe it began much earlier. At the top of the tower is Grič cannon, which is lit every day. The people of Zagreb set their watches to the cannon's boom at midday and it is very loud! It can be heard all over the city. There are many legends associated with the origins of the cannon. One of these tales dates back to the 1200s, when the then king of Hungary gave the people of Zagreb a gift of a cannon as a reward for the city helping him defeat a pillaging Tatar outfit. The Hungarian king decreed that the cannon must be fired everyday so that it did not rust up. Although this legend may or may not be true, the cannon is still unleashed on Zagreb everyday. In fact, it is the world’s only cannon with an active twitter account. Every day it posts the same thing: “BOOM” at midday. This in Croatian is BUM!
For a small fee, you can climb the tower and witness a great panoramic view of old town Zagreb. During the assent of the tower, Zagreb's history is plastered up the walls in chronological order in both Croatian and English and it makes for an interesting read. Once you have made it up the four floors and then a flight of very rickety steps you reach the top of the tower, where the views are amazing. Be warned, the top is not for those who are even remotely acrophobic. A few people I travelled with were clinging on the side of the tower for dear life while up there.
From the top of the tower views stretch from the Medvednica mountain and national park, down through the old town and over to the high rise ex-soviet new town. For the best views of the city it is well worth climbing up the tower.
Nuns enjoying the view of Zagreb's famous funicular, photographed from the top of Lotrščak Tower.
More on Zagreb to follow in the next few weeks.