Name: Slobodište Memorial Complex (Спомен-парк Слободиште)
Location: On Bagdala Hill in Kruševac, Serbia
Year completed: 1965 (5 years to build)
Designer: Bogdan Bogdanović (profile page)
Coordinates: N43°33'43.8", E21°19'46.6" (click for map)
Dimensions: 10ha memorial complex
Materials used: Carved stone blocks
Condition: Good, fairly maintained
Click on slideshow photos for description
This spomenik at Kruševac commemorates the hundreds Partisan soldiers and civilians that were executed in the city between 1941 and 1944 during the German occupation of Serbia.
World War II
The occupation of Kruševac by German Nazi troops during the course of the People's Liberation Struggle (WWII) was brutal and deadly for many residents of the town. Executions began in late September of 1941 when Germans hanged several Chetnik rebels for attacks they made against German soldiers. Deaths for infractions like this were carried out by Germans with increasing frequency as the war carried on (Photo 1), to the point where civilians of Kruševac began to be executed as well in retaliation for Partisan victories against Germans in the surrounding region.
The single deadliest day of executions in the town of Kruševac during the war was June 29th, 1943, when 324 civilians were killed, ordered by SS General August Meyszner. The general was so keen on making the people of Kruševac aware that it was him that ordered the executions that before the killings took place, he personally signed and posted flyers around the town relating that information. These executions were conducted by the German soldiers as retaliation for 8 Germans killed in Kraljevo just a few days earlier. The reason that civilians were being executed by the German soldiers for the actions of Partisans was because in September of 1941, German Wehrmacht Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel issued a Europe-wide directive authorizing reprisal killings against civilians for German soldiers killed in the proportions of 100 civilians for every German soldier slain. In response to that directive, occupational forces in Kruševac began to arrest hundreds of civilians (mostly young intellectuals and prominent local figures), effectively holding them as hostages to be killed in the event of a Partisan incursion against the Germans.
Photo 1: A Kruševac youth about to be executed by German soldiers, 1941
Photo 2: Fighters posing with flags after the liberation of Kruševac, Oct. 14th, 1944.
The execution of these hostages primarily took place on Bagdala Hill within the unfinished pre-war construction site of a penitentiary, just on the southern outskirts of Kruševac, which the German occupiers had converted into a political prisoner work camp. People who were executed at the camp were generally buried in mass graves at the nearby Bagdala Hill. All together, it is estimated that roughly 1,650 Partisans and civilians were executed and buried in the area of Bagdala over the course of the war.
The city of Kruševac was finally liberated from Axis occupation and control on October 14th, 1944 (Photo 2), when the Red Army's 64th Corps and the Partisan's 2nd Proletarian Strike Division succeeded in driving out the final German and Chetnik forces out of the city towards Trstenik. After the war, SS General August Meyszner was captured by Allied forces, then handed over to Yugoslavia by the Americans in June of 1945. Meyszner was tried in at Supreme Military Court for war-crimes in Belgrade, Serbia from December 9th to 22nd, 1946. The verdict of the trial was 'guilty' and he was sentenced to death. He was hanged until dead a month later.
In 1949, the buildings on Bagdala Hill of the penitentiary were torn down and dismantled, but no substantial memorial space was created at the site. However, in 1960, the municipality of Kruševac finally made the decision to construct a monument complex at Bagdala Hill to memorialize the horrific tragedies that had happened there. It was famed Serbian politician and writer Dobrica Ćosić (leader of the local Rasina Partisan Detachment during WWII) who suggested that notable Belgrade architect Bogdan Bogdanović created the complex. Bogdanović accepted the offer and was granted the commission to create the monument in 1961 by SUBNOR. Working around concepts recommended by Ćosić, Bogdanović formulated an ambitious design idea of creating a contoured memorial space divided into several sections which would each communicate the progression of the sacrifice, suffering and divine ascension of fallen civilians and fighters. However, when Bogdanović saw the parcel of land allocated for his monument project, he felt it was too flat for his design ideas (Photo 3). Luckily, the bulldozer factory 'IMK 14 October' existed in Kruševac, so Bogdanović and the bulldozer company came to a deal where they could test out their machines on the site if they agreed to re-contour the land to Bogdanović's specifications. After five years of constructing the complex, it was officially unveiled to the public on June 28th, 1965. The complex was given the name 'Slobodište' (Слободиште), which is a combination of the two Serbian words 'слободе' (freedom) and 'светилиште' (shrine) -- which was coined by Ćosić.
Photo 3: An early sketch by Bogdanović of the Slobodište memorial site
This memorial complex, which is spread across 13.5 hectares, consists of several sculptural elements -- first, as you enter the park, you come across a semi-circle 'Memorial house' set into the raised earthen embankment crypt, with an owl-like sculpture standing at the center. This building, called 'Dom Slobodišta', is not original to the site but was added in 1978 by Bogdanović, with cooperation from local Kruševac architect Svetislav Žujović. Next, you pass through a semi-circular keystone-less 'Solar Arch' or 'Gate of Death' set into two raised grassy mounds. These mounds contain the mass graves of the people executed at Kruševac, and many similar mounds are scattered around the park. It is important to note that the 'Solar Arch' that exists currently is NOT the original. In 1985 the original copper Solar Arch was replaced with a new variation made of stone. It is not known what series of events led to this replacement. As you pass through the 'Solar Arch' and follow a stone-paved path steeply sloped on either side (the 'Valley of Giving Respect'), you finally reach the base of a wide grassy 'U-shaped' hillside on which are situated twelve bird-like stone wings emerging from the ground (Photo 4), leading from the bottom of the hill right up along the slope of the hill. On these wings are engraved various abstract patterns. This area is known as the 'Valley of the Living Ones' and is the primary location which executions occurred during the war. Also part of this 'valley' are two engraved millstones; a large one (2-3m wide) at the entrance overlooking the 'valley' and a smaller one was set in the ground at the bottom of the 'valley'.
Photo 4: Wing sculpture sketch
Two years after the construction of the site in 1967, the original simple circular stage area of the large grassy amphitheatre was greatly expanded with an expansive large concrete stage. In addition, wood bleachers with capacity for several thousand were also added to the amphitheatre. Such facilities were intended for student functions, 'Young Pioneer' meetings, commemorative events and other educational presentations. Interestingly, in 1979 the concrete stage was completely covered over with earth and grass while all of the wooden bleachers were removed. The most recent addition to the park seems to be a large white stone cross installed at the far south end of the memorial complex. More than likely, this was added after the fall of Yugoslavia, as during the Yugoslav era, as religious symbols were rarely included in spomenik complexes, much less one designed by Bogdanović, who was very openly non-religious.
For the most part, the Slobodište memorial site weathered the troubles of the Yugoslav Wars without significant damage, as they did not significantly affect this region. However, some minor instances of damage have occurred over the years, for instance, around 2008 the large millstone overlooking the 'Valley of the Living Ones' was destroyed by vandals, being smashed into six large pieces. In recent years, the site has gone through several significant efforts of rehabilitation, with most of the extensive damaged sculptural elements of the park being fully repaired. However, such elements as the exhibition space underneath the amphitheatre, the 'Dom Slobodišta' building and the park's bathroom facilities almost appear to be completely neglected and forgotten.
Meanwhile, in 2018, a new monument was unveiled at the entrance to the Slobodište Memorial Complex which was dedicated to the local fighters who perished during the 1990s wars (Photo 5). The date of the unveiling of this work was October 14th, which is the Liberation day of Kruševac during WWII. This new monument consists of two bronze statues depicting a soldier helping another wounded fighter. It was created by sculptor Svetomir Radović, who is notable for also creating the controversial "Eternal Flame" Monument in Belgrade.
Photo 5: The 2018 work at Slobodište. Credit: Miroljub Kostić
Memorial Elements of Slobodište:
Situated around the Slobodište memorial park in Kruševac there are five primary memorial elements spread across the complex's 13.5 hectares. This section will examine each of these five memorial elements in detail, exploring aspects of their construction, history, properties and symbolism.
Valley of the Living Ones
Located at the far west end of the memorial park is the 'Valley of the Living Ones'. This element consists of a carved out U-shaped 'valley' in the side of the hill which is populated with 12 stone carved wings which are arranged in a meandering path from the bottom of the valley up the side of the hill (Slides 1 - 3). Each winged-sculpture is decorated with a unique set of patterns which were carved by local self-taught stonemasons and craftsman, with each standing roughly 1 to 2 meters in height. The medium which these sculptures are constructed is of a locally sourced sandstone and, according to some sources, scavenged pieces of the medieval Kruševac Fortress. While they are in relatively good condition, some have been subjected to damage over the years. In Slide 4 you can see repaired damage to one of the wing elements.
Valley of the Living Ones - Slideshow
The physical placement of these 12 winged-sculptures, which seems at first quite random, was actually done by its creator, Bogdan Bogdanović, in an extremely deliberate and intentional fashion. In a quote by Bogdanović describing the creation of this element of the memorial park, he explains his method (this statement is translated from Serbian to English by Vladimir Kulić and is from the book 'Bogdanović By Bogdanović'):
"I asked a group of schoolchildren to help me organize the figures. I would give them wooden sticks to use as markers and then I'd let them play around. I'd tell them, 'Stand there,' and they would mark the spots with the sticks. Then I would move them around to try a new configuration. They were very excited. I saw it as a link between architecture and choreography."
Meanwhile, the engraved designs on the 12 winged-sculptures are all unique and distinct from each other. These engravings were achieved by a partnership between Bogdanović and the enlisted stone-masons. The process began by Bogdanović approaching the raw stones (already cut to his desired shape), at which point he would use a solution of watered-down ink to paint the designs he desired directly onto the surface of the stones. Then, the stone-masons would proceed to come behind Bogdanović and carve along the designs he painted, only needing to be instructed how deep to make the engravings. Thus, the stone-masons as well as Bogdanović participated in the shaping of the monument's final form.
Solar Arch - Slideshow
Solar Arch & Burial Mounds
Directly in the center of the Slobodište memorial park, there is a 'portal' sculpture built between two mounds of earth which is called the 'Solar Arch'. To the south of the Solar Arch, the pathway leads to the 'Valley of the Living', while on the north side of the portal is a circular stone paved courtyard. Interestingly, this sculpture is not original to the memorial park. In Slide 2, you can see the original portal, which stood as a copper-plated circular doorway decorated with a series of askew lines. This original copper archway was removed and replaced in 1985 for reasons which I have been unable to determine through my research. The current portal sculpture is a semi-circle made of a series of large stone blocks. The creator of the sculpture, Bogdan Bogdanović, describes the sculpture as being crafted in the spirit of Neolithic representations of the sun.
Meanwhile, located directly adjacent to either side of the Solar Arch (on its west side) are two identical burial mounds (Slide 8) between which is located a large stone paved courtyard (Slide 9). These mounds contain the remains of 42 fighters from the Rasinski Partisan Detachment, among which are the remains of several Yugoslav folk heroes Miloje Zakić and Branko Perisić. The mounds also contain the remains of other local fighters and civilians killed by Axis forces during the war. Atop these two mounds were once eternal flame burners, however, these have elements are not longer present, presumably being stolen or damaged at some point during the post-Yugoslav era.
Dom Slobodišta - Slideshow
Built in 1978, roughly 13 years after the original opening of the park, the 'Dom Slobodišta' (Slobodište Memorial House), was created by a student of Bogdon Bogdanović, Kruševac architect Svetislav Žujović (Slides 1 & 2). The structure was intended to be the general offices for the park, as well as an educational and research center. The design of the building is a semi-circular set of rooms integrated into an earthen mound (along with a grass roof), and is surrounded by stone sculptures created by Bogdanović. During the Yugoslav-era, this center was host to nearly a dozen park workers and two park historians that would maintain the park for the roughly 100,000 people that generally passed through the park during that era. However, today, there is only one sole park employee left, and these offices and facilities at the Dom Slobodišta are very neglected and in poor condition.
Located on an earthen mound in front of the circular courtyard of the Dom Slobodišta is a small sculpture (roughly 1.5m tall) created by Bogdon Bogdanović (Slides 1, 3 & 4). With strongly carved emotional eyes, this sculpture is very evocative of Bogdanović's earlier 1975 memorial complex at Novi Travnik. Also, there are two more interesting sculptural inclusions located around the Dom Slobodišta. The first is a set of six small granite blocks carved with various styles of monster faces laid out in a row in the grass along the side of the building (Slide 5). These six blocks are clearly left over carved stones from the construction of the Mausoleum of Struggle and Victory at the nearby town Čačak, Serbia (also created by Bogdon Bogdanović), which was created during the same time that the Dom Slobodišta was. It is not exactly clear why these stones were included here, as they appear strangely out of place.
Finally, placed in front of one of the windows of the Dom Slobodišta is a 2m tall stone sculpture sitting on a square stone pedestal (Slide 6). This sculpture contains many design elements reminiscent of the Garavice Memorial site in Bihać, Bosnia (also created by Bogdon Bogdanović), such as the tear-drop motif and the squared-off shape of the pedestal. The Garavice complex was also created during the time that Bogdanović was working on his sculptural element for the Dom Slobodišta. As a result of the three connections the sculptures around Dom Slobodišta have to other Bogdanović monument sites, it would almost seem that Bogdanović used this as an experimental site to re-interpret or explore his own personal design concepts and ideas. For anyone interested in examining architectural drawings of the Dom Slobodišta, they are available at the 'Arhiva Moderizma' website at THIS link.
Amphitheatre - Slideshow
One of the original central elements created at the Slobodište memorial park was a large grassy amphitheatre. Its original form can be seen in Slide 1. However, due to the instability of the grassy slopes and the structure's poor acoustics, the stage portion of the amphitheatre was redeveloped in 1967, being expanded into a large concrete stage with elaborate terraces and two wings off of the center (Slides 2 - 4). Then, for reasons my research was not able to determine, the entirety of the concrete stage was covered over completely with earth and grassed over in 1979. Its current state can be seen in Slide 5. Built with a capacity for thousands of people, during the Yugoslav era, it hosted an array of stage performances, pageants, concerts and ceremonies. While the amphitheatre area today is still used for some modest events, it is nowhere near utilized to the extent it was during the 1970s and 1980s.
Another interesting aspect about the amphitheatre worth mentioning is that during the 1967 redevelopment of the site, a small museum exhibition space was created underneath the large concrete stage complex. The space was accessed from a set of doors to the west of the stage from a pathway off of the 'Valley of Giving Respect' corridor. However, these rooms are no longer accessible to the public and their current condition is unknown. A current photo of the entry doors to the exhibition space can be seen in Slide 6.
Cross Memorial - Slideshow
Just south of the amphitheatre is a large open grassy field. This field is flanked by a long tall earthen berm on its west side and contains a stone paved pathway leading to a tall white concrete cross in its southwest corner. This area of the memorial park was not part of the park's original plans, but was acquired in an attempted park expansion in 1983. The site is significant as it was the primary location of executions which occurred here during WWII. Extensive plans were made for the development of this site (including a large museum, restaurants, an art colony, etc), however, due to a lack of funding (and the eventual dismantlement of Yugoslavia) such plans were never realized. At some point during the post-Yugoslav era, most likely the 1990s, the currently existing concrete cross was erected here in order to commemorate the space (Slides 1 - 3).
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
At the entrance to grassy hillside bowl of the 'Valley of the Living Ones', where the 'emerging wings' are set, there is an small (~1m wide) old millstone situated into the ground (Slide 1) along the pathway leading into the 'valley'. It bears an engraving in typical Bogdanović script -- translated from Serbian to English, it reads:
"When you stand beneath this sky, stand upright."
Looking at Slide 2 here, you can see a picture of the same engraved millstone in its 1960s era condition, which demonstrates the lack of upkeep at this site has currently left the millstone, along with the paved walkway it sits on top of, partially buried up to its surface engraving.
There was another millstone overlooking this same 'valley' which was unfortunately destroyed in 2008 by vandals. The face of the millstone contained a raised lettering inscription with words in Serbian that roughly translate to English as:
"Bread and freedom are the same to us"
A photo of this original millstone can be seen in Slide 3. Around 2010, the millstone was replaced (Slide 4), however, without the raised lettering inscription.
Meanwhile, standing in the stone paved circular courtyard to the north side of the 'Solar Arch' portal, you will find two engraved stones here placed in front of the courtyard's two burial mounds. Standing in the center of the circular courtyard, to your east, you will see the first engraved stone (Slide 5). The mound in front of this stone originally had an eternal flame burner on top of it, but it has since disappeared. The inscription on the stone reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"Revolutionaries, communists, young people, girls, women and people from the Kruševac region were shot by German occupiers and national traitors, 1941-1944"
Meanwhile, as you still stand in the center of that circular courtyard and look to the west, you will see another engraved stone underneath a set of trees, along with another conical mound behind it (Slide 6). The inscription on this stone reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"To the Rasinski Partisans of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia in their fight against the German fascist occupiers, national traitors and counter-revolutionaries, 1941-1945."
Then, at the far south end of the memorial complex, there is a tall white concrete cross erected on the edge of the woods. Next to this cross is a small engraved stone (Slide 7). The inscription on this stone reads, when translated from Serbian to English, as:
"Here is where German fascists shot about a thousand patriots."
There is a small bit of graffiti on a few of the elements at this site (Slide 8). While it certainly appears to have some sort of specific meaning, the graffiti depicted in this slide (of which I have seen similar at other sites) is not immediately understood.
The creator of the Slobodište spomenik in Kruševac, Bogdan Bogdanović, meant for each element of this complex to be part of a 'otherworldly' journey for the viewer. Firstly, the 'Solar Gate' (or 'Gate of Death' as it is also called) is clearly representative of a 'portal' into the realm of death, especially as it is directly set into the mass-graves mounds where the executed victims of Kruševac are interred. Architectural critic Vladimir Vuković, among other sources, points out that this 'Gate of Death' also seems to have the appearance of an inverted 'omega' symbol (Figure 1), which generally refers to an end of things (death) or the renewal of a cycle. From that perspective, Bogdanović seems to be leading the visitor on a symbolic journey through a 'door' out of realm of living and into the realm of the afterlife. Then, as you walk up the path, you reach the 'Valley of the Living Ones' (also called the 'Valley of Memory') which is dominated by a series of 'emerging stone wings' or 'horned birds', as Bogdanović referred to them. Here you witness the symbolic liberation of souls from those executed victims escaping their mass graves, rising up finally into that afterlife with anticipation and freedom. The wings are engraved with various abstract forms and designs, which some describe as 'evocative of symbols of the indestructibility of life'. In describing the symbolic layout and atmosphere of Slobodište, Bogdanović is quoted as saying:
Figure 1: Omega symbol
"As a builder, I have to bring you the monument itself. You see, we do not notice it from a distance, as there are things that do not always need to be seen from a distance... some things you have to fall into. I would say that this memorial should be interpreted in that way. A man should be brought into the center, put into this world of forms, into which he must explore, through which he will pass, and with which he must inevitably identify. That's the only way to understand it."
As an aside, it is interesting to note that what Bogdanović created here at the Slobodište spomenik park is a series of sculptures that directly interact with the landscape, an artistic concept which bears all the hallmarks of what could be considered 'Land Art', an art movement created by sculptor Robert Smithson in the United States in the late 1960s. However, being that Bogdanović created his work here at Slobodište starting in 1960, it could be said that Bogdanović was creating 'Land Art' before it even existed as a described artistic concept.
Status and Condition:
The Slobodište spomenik complex in Kruševac is currently in a fair and reasonable state for the most part, yet it has suffered significant damages and changes over the decades, with it even facing damage and vandalism in recent years. For instance, there have been a number of changes to the complex and the removal and replacement of a few elements. The original 'Solar Arch' element, which was originally a full-circle concrete portal, was for some unknown reason removed at some point between the 1970s and 1990s. The replacement, which still maintains the circular 'portal' motif, is completely different from the original. It is possible the original was damaged or was unstable in its original form, as its shape from historic photos did seem very delicate. In addition, the current state of the spomenik's amphitheatre has significantly changed from its original condition. Firstly, all of its wooden bleachers were removed at some unknown time, while the stage was completely removed won to bare soil. Meanwhile, the 'Eternal Flame' element next to the amphitheatre was also completely removed at some unknown time, with no sign or trace of it left.
Photo 6: Destroyed millstone memorial, 2008
Photo 7: Damaged 'horned bird' sculpture, around 2008
In addition to these official and deliberate changes, the complex has also suffered several instances of extreme damage and vandalism. In August of 2008, the large millstone overlooking the 'Valley of the Living Ones' was destroyed by vandals, where it was smashed into six pieces (Photo 6), with official suspecting that some nature of large hammer was used to destroy the stone. Those responsible for this act of vandalism were never found or punished. The stone was replaced with a new stone around 2010. Around the same time, one of the 'horned bird' or 'winged-sculpture' elements in the Valley of the Living was partially destroyed, but it was later repaired (Photo 7). Currently, the Memorial House complex of the monument does not seem to be actively used or open to the public any longer (but it may have just been closed the day I was there), but regardless, it also appears to be in poor shape. Meanwhile, good promotional and directional signage exist in the area for leading visitors to the complex, while the grassy public park itself where the monument resides is well visited by locals. In 1992, this spomenik was listed as the significant 'Cultural Monument of Serbia' by the national government.
A commemorative ceremony honoring the fallen soldiers and civilians killed here during the war, called the 'Celebration of Freedom', is held here at the complex annually, which is considered the largest cultural and historical festival the city hosts (Photo 9). It begins on the Vidovdan holiday, June 28th, which signifies the day just before the worst executions of this site occurred back in 1943, and lasts until July 7th, the Day of the Fighters holiday. The event consists of a procession through the monument complex, with a memorial flame being lit which represents the flame of Prometheus and a recitation of the work 'On Behalf of the Living' by Serbian political writer Dobrica Ćosić, who is often credited with being the 'Father of the Nation'. However, some have noted that the attendance of this event is not as popular as it used to be during the Yugoslav-era, when it drew in thousands of people from across the region. Other annual events are also held here during the year.
Photo 9: A 2010 ceremonial event at the Slobodište memorial site
Additional Sites in the Kruševac area:
This section will explore other Yugoslav-era modernist cultural, historical and memorial sites in and around the area of the town of Kruševac that might be of interest to those exploring the monuments of Yugoslavia. Here will be examined the "Flower of the Revolution' Monument at Slatina, as well as the The Monument of Peace and the Monument to Prince Lazar, both of which are located adjacent to the Kruševac Fortress on the north end of the town.
'Flower of the Revolution' at Slatina:
Roughly 10km south of Kruševac is situated the small village of Slatina. On a hill overlooking the village is a spomenik complex at the center of which is a white stone monument called 'Flower of the Revolution' (Slides 1 & 2). The monument was created at this site to recognize the German's Army's retaliatory killings of villagers after the Rasina Partisan's incursions which resulted in the Battle of Slatina, occurring on February 19th, 1943. During this incident, 11 Slatina villagers were executed and 27 homes were burned to the ground. Created in 1973 by local Kruševac sculptor Milivoje Mićić, the monument is a ~5m tall abstract form loosely resembling a flower decorated with various engraved symbols and designs. At the base of the monument there is an raised-letter inscription (Slide 3) which roughly translates into English as: "For the flower of the revolution burned yet remained in flame." This monument site currently exists in a reasonable well-maintained condition.
'Flower of the Revolution' Monument - Slideshow
Annual commemorative events are still held at this monument site, generally around February 19th (in order to recognize the 1943 massacres which occurred here). A historical image of this site from the Yugoslav-era can be seen in Slide 4. The exact coordinates for this monument are N43°28'58.4", E21°22'28.1".
The Monument of Peace:
The city of Kruševac was the recipient of two United Nation awards during the Yugoslav-era for its efforts in peace-keeping actions, being given a Peace Medal in 1986 and then recognized as a Peace Messenger City in 1990. To commemorate these recognitions by the United Nations, a memorial sculpture was built in the Kruševac city center called the "Monument of Peace" (Spomenik mira) (Slides 1 - 3). An inauguration ceremony for the complex occurred on September 21st, 1992, a date which marked 10 years since the UN's creation of the International Day of Peace. The work consists of two large abstract stone hands reaching up into the sky cradling a stainless steel globe sculpture. The monument is located in the Square of Gazimestan (formerly known as Peace Square). A short documentary on YouTube about the creation of the monument can be seen here. The exact coordinates for the site are N43°35'07.8", E21°19'21.0".
Monument of Peace - Slideshow
Prince Lazar Monument:
As part of the celebrations of the "Six Centuries of Kruševac" event on June 27th, 1971, a memorial sculpture (Slides 1 - 4) was inaugurated which commemorated the famous Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović, who is thought to have founded the town of Kruševac in the late 1300s and is inarguably among the most important figures in Serbian history. The work, designed by Belgrade-based sculptor Nebojša Mitrić, depicts Lazar in a sitting position with a his sword laid across his lap, similar to how he was portrayed in medieval coinage of his era. The style in which the sculpture is made is very modernist, as it veers away into depicting a less formalized human form rather than a realistic one. The clothing depicted in the sculpture is modeled after Prince Lazar's actual garments, which can be seen in the National Museum of Kruševac. Yugoslav-era images of the monument can be seen in Slide 5 & 6. The coordinates for the monument are N43°35'02.4", E21°19'19.8", located next to Kruševac Fortress.
Prince Lazar Monument - Slideshow
And Additional Sites of Interest:
Monument to the Rasina Partisan Unit: Roughly 5km NE of Kruševac near the village of Dedina is a monument which commemorates the formation of the Rasina Partisan Unit. Created by Kruševac architect Predrag Vertovšek, it was at the site of this concrete double-obelisk monument on July 22nd, 1941 that this Partisan detachment was formed. You can see a photo of the monument site at THIS Imgur link, while its exact coordinates are N43°36'07.8", E21°24'07.4".
The Resorts of Jastrebac Mountain: Roughly 19km south of Kruševac is the popular recreational nature area of Jastrebac Mountain. In addition to the wonderful nature that this area has to offer, the slopes of Jastrebac also have a concentrated collection of several touristic resorts which were built during the Yugoslav era in a highly modernistic architectural style. These resort complexes stand as unique examples of the future-oriented design aesthetic that was very popular in Yugoslavia during the 1960s and 70s, but here adapted for a rustic mountain setting. The four primary resorts can be seen in Photos 9 - 12. From what I have been able to determine, only Hotel Trayal is still open to the public, while Hotel Ravnište and Hotel Šator have fallen into disuse and Hotel Merima was torn down in the early 2000s and replaced with a larger facility (Hotel Idila). The exact coordinates for each site is linked in the photo captions.
Photo 9: Hotel Ravnište [location]
Photo 10: Hotel Šator [location]
Photo 11: Hotel Trayal [location]
Photo 12: Hotel Merima [location]
Square of Kosovo Heroes in Kruševac: In the center of the city of Kruševac is a large plaza called Square of Kosovo Heroes, which is dedicated to the fighters of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo (Photo 13). At the center of the square is a large neo-classical monument honoring fighters from that 1389 battle, atop which is a figurative sculpture depicting famous legendary military leader Boško Jugović having a gilded wreath placed on his head by the South Slavic mythological winged nymph-like character 'Vila'. This monument, created by Serbian sculptor Đorđe Jovanović, was started on the 500th anniversary of the battle in 1889 and was finally inaugurated in 1904 by King Petar I Karađorđević. In 1971, the square acquired its current form after the construction of a highly modernist landmark building called 'The Cube' (Kocku). Created by architect Miodrag Pejčinović, this dramatic structure was built on the site of the former Hotel Paris, which itself was built in 1882. It was from Hotel Paris that the WWII liberation of Kruševac was declared on October 14th, 1944. The Cube building was created as part of the "Six Centuries of Kruševac" celebration, but its bold and daring form still remains controversial among many of the town's citizens even to this day. The coordinates for the center of the square are N43°34'57.0", E21°19'36.5".
Photo 13: A night-time view of the Square of Kosovo Heroes in Kruševac
National Museum of Kruševac: Situated just south of the ruins of Kruševac Fortress is the National Museum of Kruševac. This institution, which is housed in a large neo-classical building, was founded in 1951 and contains thousands of exhibits related to the region's history and heritage through the centuries. The official website can be found at THIS link, and its exact coordinates are N43°35'01.0", E21°19'17.7".
Photo 14: The "Glory to Work" monument in Kruševac
The "Glory to Work" Monument at IMK 14 Oktobar: On the northern edge of the city of Kruševac is a large factory called IMK (Industrija mašina i komponenata/Machinery and Components Industry) 14th October. The date with which the company is named relates to the day Kruševac was liberated during WWII in 1944. The primary product of the factory is industrial heavy machinery. As part of the "Six centuries of Kruševac" celebration in 1971, the factory initiated a design competition for the creation of a monument to mark the anniversary. The project was ultimately awarded to Belgrade sculptor Aleksandar Zarin. His concept for a large metal tower monument was built in the IMK 14 October factory by its workers, as well as erected by them in front of the factory along the road. Standing at 10m tall (Photo 14), the colorful expressive work was described to me by a local resident as representing a "worker's arm with a clenched fist on top symbolizing a proletarian salute/clenched fist in the process of work." The official name given to the monument is "Glory to Work/U slavu rada". While the monument has lost its brightness of color over the years, it still appears in reasonable condition to this day. Its exact coordinates are N43°35'20.5", E21°19'16.5".
Locating the Slobodište memorial park in Kruševac, Serbia is a relatively easy endeavor. From the city center of Kruševac, follow Highway 38 south out of town for roughly 2km. After not too long you will then see a large open field on your right and then a narrow parking area also on your right. Park here and walk along the pathway into the Slobodište park complex. Following the path as shown on the map, you will come across the Memorial Center first, then the Solar Gate, amphitheatre, and finally, the 'emerging wings' element of the spomenik complex. The walk from the parking lot to the 'emerging wings' should not take anymore than 5-10 minutes. The exact coordinates for parking are N43°33'43.8", E21°19'46.6".
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