Maybe you have heard of Hachi, a Japanese dog who spent almost a decade at a train station in Tokyo, waiting for his owner to come back. The owner had sadly passed away. His story was told in a touching motion picture (named Hachiko) starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen.
Not so many citizens of Zagreb, let alone tourists, know that there is a touching dog story to be told in Zagreb too, because its monument was hidden from the public eye for years.
Pluto’s story begins at the end of the 19th century, precisely in 1899 at the time of the construction work of First Croatian Savings Bank’s palace known as Oktogon. The structure of the bank consists two passageways connecting in the middle by an octagonal atrium. The building featured Zagreb’s first roofed pedestrian passageway.
The legend about Pluto says that one day, a skinny stray dog showed up unexpectedly at the construction site where it was soon noticed by the construction workers. The dog was weak, but friendly and playful so the workers started feeding it. He kept coming back and soon everybody got used to him being there all day, but he formed a special bond with the architect of the palace, Josip pl Vancaš. It was him who gave it the name Pluto.
Picture of Josip Vancaš from Wikipedia
The dog gradually started to spend the nights at the construction site and it became its home. Pluto protected the construction site with all his heart, as he wanted to thank his good workers who loved him dearly. Everybody knew about him and respected him. But, at the end of the construction of the bank, the workers found Pluto dead.
Back then Ilica was not a street. That was the name of the creek, on which the street was built upon. There also used to be a river on the location of the construction site which was full of soil called 'ilovaca' (clay). It was highly valued as people used it to make pots and dishes. The architect also used this material to enclose the construction site. The construction site was also full of other precious materials, which some people stole every time they could.
There are different versions about Pluto's death. One of them claims that one night Pluto was killed by thieves, and the other one claims that some heavy thing on the site fell on him while standing beneath it. Either way, Mr Vancaš and all the other workers were absolutely devastated as Pluto was their most loyal friend and protector of the construction site. They wanted to honor Pluto with a monument. They would put the monument on the palace when it was finished so the memory of the loyal dog would last forever.
They kept their promise and placed the relief in one of the inner courtyards of Oktogon. As time passed, that inner courtyard became private and sealedfrom the public, so for more than a century Pluto’s relief was hidden and forgotten, records of its existence lost in the vast paper archives of the city.
The relief was rediscovered in 2012 and was first written about by a local blogger Ivan Brnčić, who writes about Zagreb and often reveals unknown stories about Zagreb. He published the story of Pluto on his blog 'Zakaj volim Zagreb' (eng. Why I love Zagreb). The word soon spread and the public wanted Pluto to have a proper place on the palace. The City responded fast, and only about after one month, the renewed relief was placed in 2013 on the south wall of the palace on Bogovićeva street, one of the most frequently visited places in the city centre, just around the corner from Oktogon.
After hundred years, Pluto had finally received the honor it was meant to have. Pluto is now seen by hundreds of people each day, watchfully protecting the palace it gave its life defending. Like all cities with a long heritage, Zagreb is filled with monuments, statues, plaques and other representations and reminders of men and women who helped shape its history. Surely there are statues of animals in Zagreb, but Pluto is the only dog with a memorial in this city.
Oktogon is a small urban passageway that connects Petar Preradović Square with Ilica street through the building of the former First Croatian Savings Bank (in Croatian: Prva hrvatska štedionica). It was designed by architect Josip Vancaš and built as part of the savings bank building between 1898 and 1900. Oktogon has a central glass dome and stained-glass windows. Oktogon itself is also worth visiting and you can see the two entrances on the waypoints.
Picture of Palača Prve hrvatske štedionice from Wikipedia
To log this virtual cache you need prove you have visited Pluto's monument. Attach a photo of you and your GPS with Pluto (you don't need to show your face if you don't want to, hand is enough) or a photo with Pluto and a scrap of paper with your caching name written on it to your log.
Logs without adequate photos will be deleted.
Sources for the cache description text:
Virtual Reward - 2017/2018
This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between August 24, 2017 and August 24, 2018. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards on the Geocaching Blog.