Zagreb’s strong earthquake on March 22nd reminds us of 1880.

The cathedral in Zagreb, after the Earthquake on March 22. 2020. video by Igor Vignjević

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale this morning, at about 6:30 struck Zagreb and the surrounding area. This is the strongest earthquake in the last 140 years.

The Earthquake in Zagreb, The Upper town, 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

After the earthquake, another two occurred, which were felt very strongly in Zagreb and the surrounding area, one magnitude 5 and one magnitude 3.7

Earthquake in Zagreb, 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

Statistics show that from the 16th century to the present day, there have been registered about twenty earthquakes that have caused significant material damage.

 

The Earthquake in Zagreb, close to St Mark Square, 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

The strongest among them happened on November 19, 1880. This earthquake is known as the ‘Zagreb earthquake’. Following this catastrophic earthquake, a committee to monitor and study earthquakes was established at the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb in 1881.

Earthquake in Zagreb, 22.3.2020, (4)photo by Igor Vignjević

 

The ‘Zagreb earthquake’

The Zagreb earthquake of 1880, also known as the Great Earthquake in Zagreb, was of magnitude 8 on the Mercalli scale, or 6.3 degrees on Richter, with the epicenter in the Medvednica area. It destroyed many Zagreb buildings, and a large number of the population fled or moved to Vienna, Graz, Maribor, Celje, Ljubljana, and Trieste. Two people were killed and 29 seriously injured.

The cathedral in Zagreb, after the Earthquake, has lost one tower,  on 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

In that earthquake, the old Zagreb Cathedral suffered so much damage that it needed a thorough renovation. While a large number of citizens of Zagreb, who could afford it, went to other cities in the Monarchy, the poorer remained to assist in the repair of the rubble, so that at least some could welcome the winter under the roof. It is interesting that August Šenoa also helped in the renovation of the city, but who, assisting residents, received pneumonia and died in 1881. August Šenoa is the most influential and prolific writer of the 19th century.

The cathedral in Zagreb, (2)after the Earthquake on 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

In the first 24 hours after the earthquake, 3800 passenger tickets were issued at the Central Station. The biggest was followed by several low-intensity earthquakes.

Earthquake in Zagreb, 22.3.2020, (2)photo by Igor Vignjević

Much has been written about the Zagreb earthquake, from sensationalist writings and reports in the domestic, and especially in the foreign press, to serious scientific studies.

Earthquake in Zagreb, 22.3.2020, (5)photo by Igor Vignjević

These were undoubtedly difficult days for Zagreb and Zagreb citizens. The city was without public lighting for some time, schools were closed, commercial traffic was reduced, and every social and cultural life was dying. Many were leaving the city, hiding with relatives in the countryside, and some were fleeing even beyond the borders of Croatia. It is estimated that around 6,000 people, or as much as a fifth of the total population, have left Zagreb.

The cathedral in Zagreb, after the Earthquake on 22.3.2020, photo by Igor Vignjević

 

Bernarda Cenkovčan, author

Zagreb

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