Croatia: After 70 Years, Eagle Returns On Tower In Rijeka
The Rijeka (Fiume in Italian) Clock Tower, one of the most recognizable symbols of the North Adriatic city, after almost seventy years and starting today, is again adorned with a sculpture depicting the biceps eagle, coat of arms of the city in the Austrian era. The new sculpture is a faithful replica of the original one, was placed today on the dome of the civic clock that is located on the turret in the main street of Rijeka, the famous 'Corso'. The biceps eagle, a symbol of the Habsburg Monarchy, rulers of Rijeka during the sixteenth century and until 1918, was placed in 1906, when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the end of WW1, after the Italian occupation of Rijeka/Fiume, though preserving the sculpture in its place, the ''Arditi'' led by Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio cut off one of the eagle's heads, since the two-headed bird was an Austrian symbol, while the one with one head was the traditional Roman eagle. The sculpture was removed in 1949, a few years after the annexation of Rijeka to Yugoslavia, by the Communist authorities, that considered it as the symbol of foreign oppressors. Today, Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel has pointed out that the controversial history of this sculpture reflects the city's complicated history, recalling that even the idea of putting the eagle biceps back on its original place caused controversy and opposition.