Sunday, April 20, 2014

114. A visit to the Pantheon of Croatian History

On Good Friday ( which is not a public holiday here in Croatia ) I visited the Mirogoj Cemetery which is situated on the slopes the Medvednica Hills on the outskirts of Zagreb, and is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe. 

Due to the large number of prominent people buried here Mirogoj is locally referred to as the Croatian Pantheon - and like many cemeteries, Mirogoj is also a beautiful park and an outdoor art gallery – and that’s the reason for my visit today.. 

 

The cemetery was created in 1876 on a private plot of land purchased by the city and the construction of the arcades, the cupolas and the church in the entryway was begun in 1879. Work was finished in 1929 - so it is not a very old cemetery compared to say, Montmartre in Paris, but never-the-less, still a very important historical site.

This place is huge and is surrounded by palatial walls keeping the noise and the clamour of the city at bay - and was a beautiful spot to visit and spend a couple of hours wandering the grounds on a warm Spring afternoon.


 

 

 

I know it’s strange - but I like visiting cemeteries - the artwork of the gravestones, the monuments that people have built for their loved-ones, trying to guess the stories that go with the people buried there – all this builds up a picture of the people of this country.











An interesting headstone from Soviet days ...

Beautiful Silver Birche trees line the miles of walkways ...

Most of the graves are well maintained with many of them incorporating gardens of small trees, masses of ivy and spring flowers growing in the middle of the plots – all this in stark contrast to the black marble of neighbouring plots. Seeing how well cared for the graves are – with fresh flowers and candles and swept paths - gives you an understanding as to how important family is here in Zagreb.



Memorial to Croatian victims of WW II





Another interesting concept ...

A Good Friday memorial ...








So much of the artwork found throughout the cemetery has been created by some of the leading artisans of this city and is of museum standard - but has perhaps more meaning and interest here than a similar piece on a plinth in some hallowed palace lit by clever lighting and looked over by security guards. 



There's that sphere again - this one split in half ...






My favourite - amongst all the black marble and the grieving angels
is this wonderful bright mosaic head-stone
 - says a lot about the deceased I'm sure ...










The cemetery chapel ...

The mortuary and chapel ...

Morticia the mortuary guard ...