Zagreb Cathedral, Kaptol, Zagreb
Zagreb Cathedral, Kaptol, Zagreb
Cathedral of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary
See also: FAM (Familiarization) tour of Croatia
Once the city of Zagreb consisted of a twin settlement spread across two neighboring hills. The larger western section was known as Gradec (Gornji Grad) and was mainly inhabited by farmers and merchants. The smaller eastern section was known as the Kaptol and housed the Zagreb Cathedral and was inhabited by the priests and clergy men.
During the late 11th century, the Kaptol Street was lined with residences of canons (priest). The Latin word for a group or body of canons is “capitulum” (kaptol) and was the origin of the name Kaptol.
The Zagreb Cathedral dates back to 1217 and is dedicated to Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Over the years the Cathedral has been plundered by the invading Mongols and Turks, the defensive wall built around the Zagreb Cathedral in 1520 was finally successful in keeping the invaders away.
Although the defensive wall, portion of which still exists to this day, was able to keep out plunderers, but fire took its toll, damaging the Zagreb Cathedral several times in the 17th century.
The greatest blow to the Zagreb Cathedral came during the Great Zagreb Earthquake of 1880 when the Zagreb Cathedral was damaged beyond repairs.
The earthquake struck Zagreb 0n 9 Nov. 1880 at 07:03:03 hrs and the cathedral clock stopped, the dial of the clock is today mounted on the northern side of the defensive wall and shows the time 7:03.
The Zagreb Cathedral, which then consisted of a single spire, was damaged beyond repair. Zagreb’s city administrators decided to build a new Neo – Gothic styled Cathedral with twin spires.
Designed by architect Hermann Bollé, the new Zagreb Cathedral opened its gates to the public in 1906.
The western side of the defensive wall, which faced the cathedral, was pulled down in 1907 to give a better view of the cathedral.
Sadly, the stones used by Bollé were of inferior quality, and soon started to erode.
The detonation was first spotted on the cathedral’s faced and on stone sculptures.
The steeples bore the most damage and started to deteriorate. It was also affected by the weather (extreme change in temperature) and city pollution (smog and chemicals).
There have been several restoration attempts and most of them had to be stopped prematurely for the lack of funds.
A massive restoration work started in 1990 and is still in progress, with the southern steeple of the Zagreb Cathedral covered in a scaffolding.
The old, eroded and damaged stone sculptures of the Cathedral exterior were replaced with new ones. By 2011, 720 cubic meters of stone element were replaced.
Just in front of the old clock dial, displayed on the old defensive wall, two stone elements are displaced.
The one on the left is the eroded and damaged old stone element and the on the right is the new element, an exact replica of the old one, that replaced it.
The Zagreb Cathedral has been reconstructed several times, with each reconstruction enriching the interiors with valuable inventories.
Just below the main alter is the grave of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, the former archbishop of Zagreb.
It shows the Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac lying in eternal rest inside a glass coffin.
The entire cathedral seems to be a collection of art consisting of several minor alters Baroque pulpit. Numerous statues, paintings, bass relief panels and stained glasses adorn the walls of the Zagreb Cathedral.
The wall on the right of the entrance contains a long inscription in Glagolitic script, commemorating the 1300th anniversary of the baptism of the Croatian people. On the left side of the entrance is a painting of the Assumption of Virgin Mary.
Two Neo – Gothic alters flank the main alter. The one on the right shows Virgin Mary and the one on the left depicts Hungarian Saints.
The main alter and both the side walls of the Zagreb Cathedral contains intricate stained glass windows. Although most of the design are floral and geometric in nature, they do carry some pictorial elements like the historic Last Supper.
Today the Zagreb Cathedral in Kaptol remains the most prominent landmark of Zagreb, with its twin spires still dominating the Zagreb’s skyline.