Zagreb in History: Unlucky Tram 13

Total Croatia News

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Zagreb - kakav je bio nekada, Facebook

Happy Friday the 13th!

The second time in 2017 that we’ve lived to tell the stories about the ominous Friday the 13th is the perfect opportunity to remind you about Zagreb superstitions.

Sure, we’ve heard stories that some airplanes don’t have aisles No. 13, and some hotels skip the 13th floor, but this practice didn’t really catch on in Croatia, and even though we do have our own set of specific superstitions (my mom hates it when we whistle inside at night, for example), it’s not so 13-related, as far as my experience goes.

However, did you know that Zagreb’s had its streak of bad luck with the number 13 as well?

Sure you did, you’ve probably been on it – it’s the Tram No. 13, Kvaternikov trg – Žitnjak. It’s normally an older type of trams, the smaller kind, evoking nostalgia, looking all innocent, you’d think nothing bad can be related to it, right?

Tram 13.jpg
Wikimedia Commons

Well, you would be wrong.

Tram No. 13 didn’t always operate on the same route as it does today – originally, it went from Draškovićeva through Gupčeva zvijezda to Mirogoj, a very steep uphill (and downhill) ride.

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Mirogoj, 1915

On October 31, 1954, there was a minor accident early in the morning with the 21 car (number 21 was the serial number of the car, not the line), but as it was a minor accident, it wasn’t taken back to the terminal for a check-up.


It was raining, there were many leaves on the ground, and as the tram was headed back from Mirogoj at 8.30 a.m., the breaks malfunctioned, causing the tram to derail and leading to the biggest public transport in Zagreb’s history – 19 people were killed and over 50 were injured. The report says that the tram accelerated to 80 km/h before derailing, flipping over four times and breaking trees before finally being stopped by a pole.

tram novine.jpg

Some reports say that the driver yelled at the passengers to jump out when he realised that he wouldn’t be able to stop it. An error made by the driver was also one of the factors in causing the accident.

There is a plaque honouring the victims at the place where the tram stopped near Mirogoj.

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The line was discontinued right after the accident, then reintroduced again in 1964, but it only lasted until 1967 because the passengers were too scared to ride the ominous 13. Since 1967, you can only reach Mirogoj by bus, and the tracks were dismounted in the 1970s.

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The unlucky number waited 40 years to go back to the streets of Zagreb, and it didn’t take long for it to go back to its old ways – it was reintroduced in 1996 and it participated in four serious accidents in a month, breaking records as the tram with the highest number of accidents in Zagreb, despite the fact that it went through a 40-year hibernation period.

In 2008, there was a big accident when 13 (!) people were injured.

In 2009, a woman died after being hit by the 13, and the driver claimed that he hadn’t seen her at all.

In 2010 the Tram No. 13 collided with Tram No. 3, injuring seven passengers and both drivers.

Now, we’re all reasonable people, and know that superstitions are superstitions, but, still, aren’t all the coincidences a little bit – spooky? 

All photos from Zagreb – kakav je bio nekada, Facebook.


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