The damaged tip of the Zagreb Cathedral 's northern spire successfully removed



Photo gallery of the Cathedral of Zagreb after the 22. March earthquake.


After several weeks of preparations and a prayer for a blessed outcome and the workers' safety led by Cardinal Josip Bozanić, on 17 April 2020 i.e. the afternoon of Easter Friday, a very complex and demanding undertaking of removing the tip of the Zagreb Cathedral’s northern spire was carried out as the spire was severely damaged in the earthquake that hit Zagreb on the 22 April 2020. At 5:58pm the tip of the northern spire was removed in a controlled explosion between the seventy-second and seventy-third row of masonry and then successfully lowered to the ground.

The entire undertaking, necessary for the safety of the people and the Cathedral, brought together a variety of experts who simulated the operation multiple times and are credited for its success. Engineers, mountain climbers, crane operators, constructions workers, members of the Croatian Armed Forces, experts from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering of the Zagreb University, the police, cameramen and others in a joint operation supervised by the chairman of the Cathedral Restoration Committee Msgr. Ivan Hren and Cathedral's restoration engineer and supervising engineer Damir Foretić carried out this  remarkable project.

The operation of the removal of the tip of the Zagreb Cathedral's northern spire, symbol of Croatian religious and cultural identity, started early on Friday morning. Four mountain climbers, Zoran Malnar, Pavel Car, Ivo Vrangeš and Alen Hertl secured the tip of the spire after assessing the situation several times. Then the members of the Engineering Regiment of the Croatian Armed Forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Miroslav Car drilled the masonry in nine places and filled it with 48 grams of plastic explosives so as to weaken the sleeve anchor bolts in the cornice of the spire between the seventy-second and seventy-third row and precisely break the wire rope at the same height. Professors Mario Dobrilović, Ph.D. sc. ing. and Vječislav Bohanek Ph.D. sc. ing from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering of the Zagreb University partook in the testing and the detonation as well. Members of the Military Intelligence unit of the Armoured Mechanized Guard Brigade led by the Commander of the Military Intelligence unit Major Mario Maslov performed unmanned aerial surveillance of the work area and enabled the project superintendents to see and assess the actual situation at the tip of the spire.  Members of the Croatian Armed Forces were overseen by Croatian Chief of Defence Admiral Robert Hranj.

Mountain climbers were in charge of the final operation before the detonation and removal of the tip of the spire as their task was to clamp the wire rope from the large crane to the tow straps around the tip of the spire, which was done in the second attempt because the length of the wire rope had to be adjusted after the first attempt. Once the mountain climbers came down the situation was assessed for the last time via video from four drones, three military drones and one drone from an official cameraman. At the moment of optimal weather conditions the tip of the northern spire tied to the large crane was detached from the base of the spire in a controlled explosion and lowered to the ground at its designated place by skilful manoeuvring of the crane operator.

Once the skilled crane operators supervised by the chief crane operator Hrvoje Dačić successfully brought the tip of the spire down to the ground, all participants were thrilled. It's worth mentioning that this historical endeavour got a lot of public attention. Cardinal Josip Bozanić visited the operation site and congratulated everyone involved on a job well done.

Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Damir Krstičević congratulated everyone involved in the project as well. The media covered the operation from a safe location between Dolac and Kaptol and the entire undertaking was streamed live via Zagreb Archdiocese Press Office’s  Facebook page

Let us thank God for keeping everyone involved safe; Blassed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption, and to the holy hungarian king Stephen I whom the Zagreb Cathedral is consecrated to, and Blessed Alojzije Stepinac for their heavenly intercession.

The Press Office of the Zagreb Archdiocese