The story of street lanterns of old Zagreb (and their caretaker)

Taking a walk through Upper Town and the surrounding areas at night is truly a romantic way to spend the evening. The serenity of the old historic buildings, barely any cars and crowds plus a magnificent view at the Zagreb skyline – what more can you ask for on a cold autumn night?

Part of that romance lies in the dim lighting of over a century old lanterns that had been illuminating these kinds of peaceful moments for generations. And that takes us to another little-known fact about our wonderful capital -Zagreb is the only city in the world in which the gas lanterns are lighted manually and the only man who has been doing this for almost 40 years, Mr. Kufner, is a well-known attraction for many tourists who come to visit Zagreb.

First lanterns date back in 1863 when the first one was installed on Upper Town. At the time, some people even rioted against this kind of illumination due to them thinking that lanterns were poisonous. But still to this day, despite that kind of funny accusations, the lanterns keep illuminating the narrow intimate streets in one of the most beautiful parts of Zagreb and the procedure with their function and care are the same as decades and decades ago.
The lantern lighter lights them every dawn and turns puts them off every dusk with the first rays of sunshine. In some earlier times the lighters would use ladders but today you can recognize Mr. Kufner when he passes by in a navy blue uniform and a long stick to light the lanterns.

These small but romantic details mean a lot and should definitely be preserved as a part of the heritage and giving a homage to our ancestors who walked below these same lanterns.

Ana Plevko

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