Gas Lantern, I love you so

02.01.2014

For 150 years, the streets of Zagreb’s Upper Town have been illuminated by gas lanterns. Just like in the olden times, they are manually turned on and off by gas lamp men.

When two replicas of the original gas lanterns were switched on in mid-December, at St. Mark’s Square in Zagreb’s Upper Town, the event marked the 150th anniversary of the introduction of gas street lighting in Zagreb.

However, one would be wrong to conclude that those two gas lanterns are the only ones to conjure up the romantic past. The gas public lighting system which started operating in late 1863 consisted of a total of 364 gas lanterns. Although their number has dwindled in the meantime, Zagreb still has 214 active original gas lanterns in the Upper Town, Kaptol and Opatovina, which make it one of the rare European cities offering its visitors that kind of attraction. Those gas lights are manually turned on in the evening and switched off in the morning by gas lamp men, members of an elsewhere long forgotten workforce which is undergoing a true renaissance in the Croatian capital: Zagreb’s gas lamp men will be clad in brand new uniforms this year!

The century and a half long tradition, as well as the romantic atmosphere of the streets in the Upper Town illuminated by gas lighting, have served as an inspiration for the town’s poets and its guests who enjoy the atmosphere created by the beautiful old-fashioned lanterns. The process of manually lighting over two hundred gas lanterns is inspiration to follow them and explore the city on their route. Not only can you join the gas light men on their everyday rounds but you can also become one of them for the day and thus join the hordes of romantics who repeat the words of a poet: gas lantern, I love you so…