Thursday, December 12, 2013

Photo Tour: Mirogoj Cemetery

I realize that it's completely outside of my norm to be blogging about a cemetery, but I promise this isn't going to be a morbid post. As a Croatian-American, my visit to Zagreb's Mirogoj this summer was one of the most meaningful and eye-opening travel experiences I've ever had.

Actually, Mirogoj is a bit of a tourist attraction. Visitors come to see Herman Bolle's architecture and to walk the winding pathways and gardens, which are shaded with chestnut trees and maple trees, colorful vines and spruces. They come for the stop-you-in-your-tracks view of Medvenica Mountain. Some may even come for a walk through regional history.

And these are all very real, very worthwhile reasons to visit. But what I hope people don't forget is that Mirogoj, at its core, is where real people come to remember other real people. It's where loved ones are buried. It's where Croatian leaders, artists, inventors and athletes are commemorated. It's where soldiers have been laid to rest.

Style Jaunt - Photo Tour: Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetary

Style Jaunt - Photo Tour: Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetary
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Along Mirogoj's front perimeter, at its main entry, you'll walk Bolle's famous arcade. Its ornate archways house some of Croatia's most celebrated politicians, leaders, composers, scientists and philosophers. This is also the beginning of the oldest part of the cemetery with memorials dating to the 1800s. Mirogoj was built to be inclusive of all religions, so you'll see Catholic crosses alongside Orthodox ones and Jewish Stars of David.

Style Jaunt - Photo Tour: Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetary
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Style Jaunt - Photo Tour: Zagreb's Mirogoj Cemetary
Photo by Stjepan Alaupovic
Right behind the Church of Christ the King is the burial site of Croatia's first president, Franjo Tudman, who held office until his death in December 1999. There were a lot of very real moments during my walk through Mirogoj, but the most sobering stop was our last one - when we came across the section dedicated to fallen Croatian soldiers from the war in the 1990s.

On a trip that was mostly about fun and exploration, family bonding and beach lounging, I'm glad we took the time to visit Mirogoj. Sometimes you just need a reminder.

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