The 1880 Zagreb Earthquake: A Historical Retrospective

In Zagreb, close to the cathedral, there’s an old clock on a wall, its hands frozen at 7:03. This is more than just a clock; it marks the exact moment of the most severe earthquake in Zagreb’s history, which occurred on November 9, 1880. With a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter scale and its epicenter near Medvednica, this earthquake had significant impacts on the city.

Source: Digital Collection of National and University Library in Zagreb

As I stood there, observing the clock, I reflected on the aftermath of the earthquake. Many buildings were destroyed, leading to a substantial number of residents fleeing or permanently leaving Zagreb. The earthquake claimed two lives and caused severe injuries to 29 others.

The enduring presence of this clock serves as a reminder of that event. It’s one of the few physical symbols left that directly reference the earthquake.

In the months following the earthquake, Zagreb experienced 185 aftershocks. The financial damage was considerable, estimated at around 6,5 million of Euros in today’s terms. The city’s response varied: while wealthier residents moved to other cities, those with fewer resources stayed and participated in the cleanup and reconstruction efforts, including the well-known August Šenoa.

This chapter in Zagreb’s history underscores not only the city’s vulnerability to natural disasters but also its capacity for recovery and resilience in the face of adversity.

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

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