Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Night in Zagreb [Part 1/2]: Witch Hunt on the Stone Gate

In this part of our Zagreb travel series I want to take you into the night with us. And yes, we did visit major points of Zagreb at night (but more on that in the final part), but in this second part I want to concentrate on the Stone Gate in Zagreb, which is an important historic landmark. Here, to our complete surprise, we witnessed a witch hunt and a long-standing religious ceremony, that took us into the dark corners of this city...


This is a multi-part travel series. Other parts include:
Part One: What to do in Zagreb
Part Two: Witch Hunt on the Stone Gate
Part Three: A Stroll through the City

click on the images for a bigger view


The History behind Stone Gate

In order to talk about the stone gate (depicted in the images above and below), one must first mention the city quarter Gradec. Gradec, together with the Kaptol (which you saw in part one, where the Zagreb Cathedral is located), is the medival nucleus of the city. Back in the 12th century, the citizens engaged in building defensive walls and towers around the Gradec settlement, fearing a Mongol invasion. They completed the defensive system at a time between 1242 and 1261.

There were four main gates leading to the town: the west gate in the Mesnicka Street, the new north gate, later known as the Opaticka Street gate, Dverce in the south and the Kamenita vrata (Stone gate) in the east. Stone gate is the only gate still preserved to date.

The Legendary Fire

According to legend, a great fire in 1731 destroyed every part of the wooden gate except for the painting of the Virgin and Child (by an unknown 17th-century artist). People believe that the painting possesses magical powers and come regularly to pray, light candles and leave flowers. Square stone slabs are engraved with thanks and praise to the Virgin.


An Interesting Turn of Events

So we are walking down the streets of Gradec, minding our own business, when I hear screams coming from one of the side streets. I turn to my travel companions and say that something is wrong. As we look into the street, a crowd is coming toward us (image above)...


...and only then do we realize that it's a play being held on the streets! A woman, marked as a witch is being dragged down the street, with people screaming at her. "Burn her at the stakes!" a woman dressed in black screams at the girl, as she points her fingers at her. We were really surprised to see this up close. Lots of ordinary citizens are following the event, with candles in their hands.


Then a man screams at the crowd of people (including us): "Get away from the streets!!!". We do as ordered, and with the rest of the viewers, move to the side of the street. Then, from the corner a horse and his rider come galloping at fast speed (so fast in fact, that I didn't set my camera properties to get a good shot, so sorry for that), coming to the rescue of the girl!



As quickly as the show started, so it was over. A woman tells the crowd the rest of the story and with a wink in her eye urges tourists to buy the book to read more about it. :) We turn away from the people and head over to the direction of the horse. I just had to get a better shot!



As the crowd of tourists and locals move away, the streets empty out quickly and left are we with a dozen of other roamers, including the horse and the horseman. The horse made his business on the cobblestones in front of the church, and his owner was getting ready to clean up.



On the St. Mark's Square

As the night continues, we start exploring the St. Mark's Square where we ended up after the dramatic events that started the evening. This is a very calm part of Zagreb at night, not many people are here. And also there is not much light, so you are left exploring in the night. This square houses  governmental buildings as well as the St. Mark's Church.


The next shot depicts the Church of St. Mark with the coat of arms of Zagreb woven into the roof design. In front of the church the horseman is ready to depart, while the obviously tired hero, the knight, is resting.



We move along, ready to discover new parts of the city at night. As we leave, the actors are undressing in front of their gallery. The night was hot, so I'm sure it was very tiring to wear all those clothes.



More images from Zagreb at night in the finale!
To be continued...

34 comments:

  1. Superb Mersad. I always enjoy your evening shoots but this has to be one of your best.

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  2. Thanks so much Adrian!

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  3. Such cool shots - you do such a fine job with night photography.
    Thank you for coming by http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/07/bug-eyes.html to share.

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  4. Awesome night shots, Mersad! It must have been interesting to see the live play out on the streets. Great captures, enjoy your day!

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  5. What fun to see the play happening in the street! At first it must have been a bit scary to hear the screaming though. Wonderful night shots!

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    1. It sure was! :) Be bravely we went towards the screams and were rewarded :)

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  6. Oh my goodness, what a night. I am glad the commotion was just a play! The gate and its history is wonderful.

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  7. Okay, did you buy the book? I know I would have. How interesting...exciting, and probably a bit of fun included after the first realization it was a street play!!!

    Then, the architecture...and the story of the fire yet the virgin art still remains.

    I am in total awe of this. Now, I must go read the first part to catch up on what I missed.

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  8. What a fun post. It was like reading an adventurous novel!

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  9. Wonderful night photos. It is interesting to see this show on the street! I'm in waiting for part three. :)

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  10. Terrific night shots and what a great, fun night!! Amazing and, yes, I'm waiting eagerly for part three, too!! It is indeed like reading an adventurous novel!!! Thanks so much for sharing all of these!!

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  11. number one photo is incredible. love the lighting on their faces.. tells a story. and the knight in number 15 is my favorite today... as always your night shots are amazing

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  12. My heart would have been pounding at the drama that unfolded from the side street. Again, your night photography is excellent. Even with the blurred horse, you communicate the impression of speed. My favorite, though, is the shot of the tired knight. It made me smile.

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    1. I love that shot as well. It's a true candid. :)

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  13. This was a delight! Oh to capture a play being performed in the beautiful streets at night none the less...such a wonderful experience I'm sure. Beautiful photos! Well done!

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    1. Thanks so much. Glad you liked the shots.

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  14. a busy time, indeed.
    ROG, ABCW

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  15. Wow--- Is that great or what!!! Well done.

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    1. We were really surprised. I think that it shows in the photos, by the way I captured every bit.

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  16. What a fun scene to run into.

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  17. What an exciting place! Tom The Backroads Traveller

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  18. Love all the night shots. How fun to come upon the witch hunt (thank goodness it wasn't real!)

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  19. This was quite an adventure. Wonderful to have had such an unplanned experience. Wonderful photos!!! Wishing you a grand day!

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  20. I was agog with interest reading this. What fun to see the play and to capture the scenes. Did you buy the book?

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  21. beautiful nighttime images. the horse is beautiful too.

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  22. Wow, very dramatic! Great pictures, as usual.

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  23. I enjoyed the walk through the lanes of Zagreb with you

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  24. What a fun post. Great photos too!

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  25. Your night photography is awesomely captured. I just love your shots!

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  26. What a fun night you and your companions have. I can imagine it well with your photo and words.
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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  27. Beautiful images! What a lot of amazing action you had that night.

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  28. Oh how absolutely delightful! What a wonderful place to visit, and you did so just at the right time! I would have loved being there for this! And the gate was fascinating. Wonderful history...beautiful architecture...and as always, Mersad, some awesome photos! Sorry I am so late commenting. I am absolutely a month behind with people! I may never get caught up!:(

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  29. Oh wow!

    Wow!

    I want to do this, too!

    It looks like Just an incredible time!

    And.

    If I didn't already mention it.

    Wow.

    Thanks for linking to the letter J.

    A+

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