The Thunder from Grič Loved by Everyone in Zagreb

The Thunder from Grič Loved by Everyone in Zagreb

Zagreb’s Upper Town is a modern open-air antique store. Zagreb will show you the many faces of its rich history at every corner – from taking a ride on the charming funicular that slowly takes you back in time, walking down the Strossmayer Promenade and taking the obligatory selfie with the statue of the famous Croatian author Antun Gustav Matoš to taking a tour of one of the most recognisable symbols of Zagreb, the church of St Mark, and having a drink near the quiet and serene Stone Gate (Kamenita vrata).

Ivo Biočina

All this beauty of the Upper Town would be incomplete without a cannon. The thunder from Grič first sounded on 1 January 1877, and has since then marked the noon in Zagreb every day, regardless of the season and weather.

The sound of the cannon usually scares the tourists and flocks of pigeons on the Ban Josip Jelačić Square, but any true Zagrebian will set their watch by it and know that it’s almost lunch time.

An Explosive Hello from Zagreb that Sent the Ottomans Running for the Hills

In fact, it was actually a failed lunch that led to the creation of the legend of the Grič cannon. At the end of the 16th century, the powerful Ottoman army reached the outskirts of Zagreb. The powerful troops of Hasan Pasha Predojević struck fear into everyone in the vicinity, and the city’s defenders had no choice but to stand by and watch powerlessly as the conquering army on the other bank of the river Sava ravaged entire villages and prepared for siege. The Ottoman military leader was untroubled by them because he knew that Zagreb had no cannon to fire at his soldiers.

 

However, one day, as the relaxed Hasan Pasha entertained his nobility, a large cannon was brought to the Lotrščak Tower from the Vienna foundry, which would turn the tide in the war. At precisely noon on one beautiful spring morning, a terrifying explosion was heard from the tower that took the Ottoman army completely by surprise. According to folk tales, the cannonball hit the silver tray used to serve Hasan Pasha’s lunch at that very moment, and the force of the explosion caused all of the tents of the invading army to collapse. Believing that the shot was the beginning of an attack from Zagreb, the Ottoman soldiers fled for their lives and never returned.

M. Mihaljević / TZ Zagreb

So, if you find yourself in Zagreb and you happen to hear the cannon, have no fear. It’s just another noon in the city.