Name: Mon. to Fallen Partisan Sailors/ The Seafarer's Lighthouse (Svjetionik Pomorac)
Location: On Katalinic Brig in Split, Croatia
Year completed: 1958, renovated and repaired in 2013
Designer(s): Andrija Krstulović, Paško Kuzmanić, Budimir Prvan, Branko Franičević & Ivan Carić
Coordinates: N43°30'03.1", E16°26'35.4"
Dimensions: 38m tall lighthouse
Materials used: Stone, glass and concrete
Condition: Fair to good
Located on a rock outcrop named "Katalinic Brig" overlooking the Adriatic Sea is situated the Seafarer's Lighthouse, which is a Yugoslav-era monument created to commemorate the WWII actions of Partisan sailors of Split (many of whose identities are unknown) who perished during the People's Liberation Struggle.
World War II
As the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was invaded by Axis powers in April of 1941, the ancient Adriatic city of Split was subsequently occupied by Italian forces (Photo 1). Although the newly forced Axis collaborating Ustaše government of the Independent State of Croatia was vehement in their opposition to Italy's takeover of Split, the city was officially annexed into Italy in May of 1941, along with many other Adriatic cities along the coast. Consequently, many citizens of Split became extremely angered by this forceful takeover and occupation of the city by foreign forces, which resulted in many people gravitating towards the city's quicky emerging resistance groups.
By far the most popular resistance group in Split that citizens organized behind were the Yugoslav Partisans, a communist-led anti-fascist group led by Josip Broz Tito. By May of 1941, the Partisans in Split were already beginning to form themselves into a military unit, which they named the 1st Strike Detachment (Prvi udarni odred). Interestingly, one of the largest groups of people who enlisted with the Split Partisans were football players from the city's two teams HNK Hajduk and RNK Split. Through the summer of 1941, this Partisan unit largely engaged in guerilla attacks on Italian soldiers stationed across Split (as well as sabotage against crucial infrastructure), which subsequently resulted in harsh reprisal attacks by the Italians against the city's civilian population. In addition, significant attacks were also waged specifically against the local Jewish population and their synagogues, while the families of Partisan fighters were also targeted with reprisal attacks and imprisonment.
Photo 1: Italian war ships entering Split Harbor, 1941
Then, in August of 1941, the Partisan officers Pavle Pap-Šilja and Mirko Kovačević snuck their way into Split with special instructions from Tito and central Partisan command to enlist Partisan rebels in Split into a new military unit to help with the wider war in Yugoslavia. Calling themselves the 1st Split Partisan Detachment, the unit was composed of 66 fighters. The unit departed from Split on August 11th but was ultimately ambushed by Italian soldiers while en-route to Bosnia while in the small town of Košute. Many were killed during the firefight and those who were captured were executed by Axis forces [more about this incident can be read at my Košute profile page]. However, despite this setback, the Partisans in Split continued to resist and fight back against Italian occupation, as well as the Ustaše presence in the city. Not only did Italy control Split, but they also wished to Italianize those various people of non-Italian domestic ethnic backgrounds who were living there. This led to further resentment and anger among the local population and further recruitment towards the Partisan cause.
Photo 2: German soldiers raising the Nazi flag over Split, Oct, 1943
However, the Italian control of Split came to an end on September 3rd, 1943 with the Armistice of Cassibile, which resulted in the capitulation of Italy. As a result, Yugoslav Partisan units quickly swept in to take control of Split. But it was only about 2 weeks after that Partisans took over Split that German SS Prinz Eugen Division, with its 92nd Motorized Grenadier Regiment, approached the city and faced off against the Partisans in a conflict known as the Battle of Split, which lasted until Oct. 2nd, which resulted in the Germans violently wresting the city from the hands of the Partisans, who subsequently retreated while the Germans took the city (Photo 2). However, at this point, the Partisans were in communication with Allied forces, which resulted in a cooperation plan where Allies would bomb German positions in Split from the air that would be then followed-up with attacks made by Partisan ground forces. This Allied bombing campaign against German Army forces in Split lasted roughly a year, which tragically resulted in the deaths of over 220 civilians. However, by October of 1944, German forces were sufficiently devastated, which resulted in the remainder of their numbers retreating north out of the city. Partisans entered Split and liberated it from German occupation on October 26th, 1944. Of the 40,000 people living in Split during WWII, roughly 18,000 participated during the course of the war in the Partisan uprising against fascist forces. Yet, many thousands perished during the course of the war, both civilians and resistance fighters.
After the end of WWII, Split became a booming commercial hub as a result of its expansive port and centralized location along the Adriatic. In addition to its strategic location becoming leading Split to become a commercial hub, its location also made it attractive to the post-WWII Yugoslav Navy for turning the city into a naval base for its operations. As a result, after the war, the Lora Naval Base was set up for the Yugoslav Navy in Split, making the city the regional center for all naval activities (along side Kotor in Montenegro). In the mid-1950s, the Urban Planning Bureau of Split began making plans for a memorial lighthouse that would be built along the city's coast to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the founding of the Partisan Navy, which occurred in 1942 in the Adriatic city of Podgora (roughly 60km SE of Split) [more info about the history of Podgora can be found at my profile page HERE]. This endeavor was to be the first major monument project in Split since the end of WWII, as well as being the first major post-war vertical object built in the city. It was decided early on in the process that the monument would take the form of a lighthouse, which could act both as a memorial while also providing a utilitarian function. This was especially crucial as the primary lighthouse at the time located at the Split breakwater, built in 1888, was becoming less effective for modern needs.
The tender for the creation of this project was awarded to a five-person team, lead by architect Ivan Carić, with design assistance from Budimir Prvan, Branko Franičević and Paško Kuzmanić, along with local Split sculptor Andrija Krstulović (a student of the famed Ivan Meštrović). In addition, the investor for the project was U. P. Rasvjeta, while the construction contractor was Tehnogradnja. Meanwhile, the location chosen for the lighthouse monument was a dramatic rock outcrop at the entrance to the Port of Split named Katalinic Brig, right on the edge of the small Bay of Bačvice overlooking the central Split harbor. The minimalistic lighthouse, standing 38m tall pillar, was of a thin shape and constructed of stone blocks on its two thin sides, while its two broad sides were filled with copper sheets perforated with a tight grid of nearly 6,000 circular glass bricks (produced in Pančevo, Serbia). Ambient light passes through the pillar via these glass bricks, scattering and diffracting in a very unique and artistic fashion. This tall pillar's lighthouse beacon, which broadcasted a strong rotating beam of light, was visible for over 56 kilometers. When completed, it tied the Mlaka Lighthouse in Rijeka as the tallest lighthouse in Croatia. A narrow set of stairs (locked from public access) also leads to the summit of the tower to a small room originally meant for a lighthouse keeper.
Meanwhile, in front of the lighthouse pillar was constructed a white stone tomb which contained the remains of an "Unknown Seaman" who perished on the Island of Vis during WWII. Next to the tomb was placed a large metal anchor, possibly from a ship used by the Partisan Navy. The final element of the memorial site is a dynamic sculptural work by Andrija Krstulović made of white Brač limestone which depicts a man struggling in violent seas. Positioned right on the edge of the cliff, the form is created through cut-out silhouetted forms, with the beautiful Adriatic sea visible through the holes, a unique effect which adds to the drama and immersiveness of the sculpture.
Photo 3: A view of the Seafarer's Lighthouse just after opening, 1950s
Photo 4: Wreath laying during unveiling, 1958
The "Unknown Seaman", along with Navy lieutenant Pere Turčić, were lowered into his tomb on September 9th, 1958, with the large public ceremony and unveiling event occurring the following day on September 10th, known as "Seafarer's Day" (Photo 4). The unveiling was followed by the inaugural lighting of the lighthouse, as well as fireworks and festivities across Split which were attended by over 10,000 people. The official name given to the complex was "The Seafarer's Lighthouse" (Svjetionik Pomorac), which has existed as a tribute to all sailors who have perished at sea, not only during WWII, but also in peacetime. During the Yugoslav-era, it was an extremely well-visited memorial and one of the most popular monument sites in Split, not only for commemorative purposes but also for use as a park and an area for relaxation and sightseeing (as it had excellent views of the Adriatic and the city of Split).
The Seafarer's Lighthouse remained in good condition during the Yugoslav-era. However, things changed drastically during the onset of the War of Croatian Independence in the early 1990s. During a three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Dalmatian Channels, which started on November 14th, 1991, a Yugoslav Navy vessel began a retaliatory bombardment of the city of Split. During this bombardment, the Seafarer's Lighthouse sustained a direct hit. Interestingly, a home video recording of the lighthouse being struck can be seen in this YouTube video [at time-stamp 24 seconds]. A still frame from this video of the lighthouse getting struck by the shell can be seen in Photo 5. News reports indicate that two shells struck the lighthouse. This shelling attack left the monument extremely damaged and completely destroyed the functioning of the lighthouse operations of the tower.
Photo 5: Still frame from a video of the lighthouse getting struck by a shell, 1991
Photo 6: A photo of the 2013 restoration efforts of the lighthouse at Split
In the years after the Yugoslav Wars and Croatia gaining its independence, the Seafarer's Lighthouse began to fall into a state of neglect and disrepair. No immediate efforts were made to repair the lighthouse beam since it was struck by a shell in 1991. As a result, not only did this spomenik complex begin to deteriorate, but it also became a basin for trash and a breeding-ground those looking to vandalize the monument with graffiti. Furthermore, as the lighthouse became more marginalize and an afterthought of local authorities, a mobile phone antenna was installed at the top of the tower. The site is managed by the state-owned maritime company Plovput, who collects the revenues from the antenna, but during the 1990s and 2000s they had put little effort into restoring or rehabilitating the site. However, after outcries and initiatives put forward by several groups, serious efforts were finally put towards implementing an intensive restoration of the site, most notably spearheaded by the Split Rotary Club and the Croatian Maritime Union (who began to re-initiate commemorative events at the monument in 2011).
Restoration, construction and graffiti removal for the lighthouse memorial complex began in earnest in the summer of 2013 (Photo 6). During this work, the scores of glass bricks which had shattered and fallen out over the years were replaced with newly fabricated bricks, while the facade of the lighthouse which was damaged by the 1991 shelling was repaired. Most importantly, the rotating lighthouse beam was repaired and subsequently re-activated in 2013. The restoration project for the spomenik site was fully completed in 2014. As of 2020, the site is still not in a pristine condition, still being subjected to occasional vandalism and graffiti, but it has vastly improved, with the site again being used for regular commemorative events and being visited by locals and tourists. Meanwhile, in recent years, young artists and designers have been proposing innovative ideas to make the monument more engaging to the public, with one unique 2013 proposal suggesting that the roughly 6,000 glass bricks of the monument be fitted with LED lights which could display customized illuminated messages for sailors to see from their boats as they are approaching Split harbor (Photo 7).
Photo 7: Concept art from the LED light proposal [source]
Plaques, Engravings and Graffiti:
There are very few inscriptions located at the Seafarer's Lighthouse here at Split, Croatia. The primary inscription at this location can be seen in Slide 1, which is a modest stone carving into the stone base of the lighthouse tower. This simple inscription translates from Croatian into English as "Seafarer's Lighthouse, September 10th, 1958", with the date referring to the day which the monument was officially dedicated. No other significant inscriptions exist at this site.
In terms of graffiti at this site, much of the spomenik complex was covered with it before the monument received its 2013 restoration (seen in Slide 2). However, since the restoration, graffiti at this site has been minimal. Although small examples of it can manifest from time to time, it appears to be under control and well managed by the local authorities.
When examining the symbolism of the Split Seafarer's Lighthouse memorial complex, there are two primary components to examine: firstly the lighthouse itself and, secondly, Andrija Krstulović's sculptural work. Considering the lighthouse, in addition to its utilitarian function, the intuitive symbolic message of such a tall conspicuous illuminated object can be interpreted as representing a "beacon of freedom" or a "torch of liberty" visible across all the landscape. As such, this symbolic message would most certainly be understood by onlookers during the Yugoslav era as a tribute to the Partisan struggle, as well as the sacrifice made by fallen fighters and sailors. In addition, since it was built as the tallest lighthouse in Croatia (tied in height with the Mlaka Lighthouse in Reijka) it would also operate as a symbol of Yugoslav power and technical innovation, similar to how other famous historical lighthouses operated as symbols of power and architectural prowess (such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria of Greek antiquity). And just like the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Photo 8), the Seafarer's Lighthouse in Split was purposefully positioned on a conspicuous rock outcrop right at the entrance to the city's harbor, visible to all who sailed into the city as a symbol of power and military victory.
Photo 8: Depiction of the Lighthouse of Alexandria
Photo 9: A photo of the Monument to Seafarer's
Photo 10: "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt
Meanwhile, the Monument to Seafarer's by Krstulović next to the lighthouse (Photo 9) contains its own set of unique symbolic messages. Firstly, the struggling sailor fighting against a stormy sea depicted in this work seems to represent, on a surface level, the hardship and turmoil that Partisan sailors fought against during WWII. In the Marin Kuzmić book "Antifascist Split, War Chronicles", the author describes this sculpture as symbolizing "the fearlessness of the sailors who, in their small ships, emerged victorious through difficult battles against a better equipped and stronger enemy". Furthermore, the way in which the sculpture is positioned on the edge of the cliff over-looking the Adriatic allows the silhouetted cut-out nature of the figures to be seen existing within the bright blue sea itself, a framing which imbues the work with added drama and increased immersive depth.
Meanwhile, it is also interesting to look a bit deeper at the symbolism here and explore what else the artist might have been trying to convey. For instance, there is a notable similarity Krstulović's work and one of the most famous maritime paintings of the Baroque-era: "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee"  by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (Photo 10). This painting depicts Jesus on the Sea of Galilee in a boat with a group of people caught in a violent storm, during which time Jesus calms the storm through performing a miracle. Rembrandt's painting and Krstulović's sculpture share numerous stylistic features and characteristics, leading one to wonder whether Krstulović was slyly referencing Rembrandt's painting as a way to subtly invoke a Christian tone and a holy "Jesus-like" symbolism into his work. Such efforts of subtly insert Christian themes and Jesus references into Partisan monuments are not altogether unheard of, with one of the most overt examples being the Sutjeska Spomen-Dom at Tjentište, BiH [profile page].
Status and Condition:
In regards to the current state of the Seafarer's Lighthouse (Svjetionik Pomorac) and memorial complex, the condition can be considered fair to good. As a result of the 2013-2014 restoration and rehabilitation project, much of the destruction, decay and degradation that this site had experienced during the 1990s and 2000s has been repaired and addressed. This repair included the removal of vast amounts of graffiti, fixing damage to the facades of the memorial elements, as well as the repair of the lighthouse beacon. While grass and vegetation often grew tall and unmanaged in the past during the post-Yugoslav era, much better effort is currently exercised towards maintaining this space as a well-groomed park and memorial area. However, despite the improved presentation of the park, there are no promotional signs or directional signals which might lead visitors to this memorial park. Furthermore, there are also no interpretive or informational placards at the monument which might relate to visitors its history, meaning or cultural importance. In addition, the official Split tourism website does not list the Seafarer's Lighthouse as a local attraction or point of interest.
Photo 11: A commemorative event at the Seafarer's Lighthouse, 2019 [source]
However, despite its lack of promotion, the memorial park is often bustling with activity, both locals and tourists exploring the site's amazing views. Furthermore, the memorial complex still regularly hosts remembrance ceremonies and commemorative events, traditionally on the eve of the feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24th), the Day of St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Sailors (December 6th) and Seafarer's Day (September 10th) (Photo 11). There are still hopes among some groups that eventually the mobile phone antennas installed on the top of the lighthouse can at some point be removed to restore the structure to its original unobstructed appearance, while others think the antennas should remain in place, as they operate as a public utility.
Additional Sites in Split Area:
This section explores additional Yugoslav-era historical, cultural and memorial sites in and around the greater Split region that might be of interest to those studying the monumental or architectural heritage of the former Yugoslavia. The sites examined here will be the Monument to Fallen Dockworkers, the Monument to Prisoners & Internees, the Monument to the Fallen in the Battle of Klis, as well as the Monument to Fallen Shipyard Workers.
Monument to Fallen Dockworkers:
Situated along St. Peter's Wharf (Gat Sv. Petra) in the middle of the port of Split can be found a modest, often overlooked, monument dedicated to dockworkers and harbor men who perished during the WWII (Photo 12). This unique class of workers held an honored status in Split as a result of their dedication and commitment to the Partisan uprising, with many of them risking their lives to engage in resistance and sabotage efforts against the fascist occupiers during the war. Unveiled in 1956 and created by Split-based design team of architect Vuko Bombardelli [profile page] and academic sculptor Željko Radmilović, this work consists of a flat bronze relief sculpture mounted on a stone wall of white Brač. The work depicts two dockworkers pulling dramatically on a rope to lift up a large steel i-beam. On top of the monument is a red-colored beacon. Originally, the monument was positioned at the tip of St. Peter's Wharf, but as the wharf was extended over the years, it now sits nondescriptly along the passing cars. The monument currently exists in good condition, with its exact coordinates being N43°30'16.4", 16°26'25.4".
Photo 12: Monument to Fallen Dockworkers [source]
Monument to Prisoners & Internees:
Located within the of the Split-Dalmatia Municipal Government Building entrance courtyard is a monument dedicated to WWII prisoners and internees (Photo 13). The location of this monument was the former site of a prison where many thousands of civilian victims, anti-fascists, captured Partisans and other Axis opponents were held, while also being abused and tortured. When Italy capitulated in September of 1943, Partisans freed the prisoners and burned down the building. Created by Split architect Vuko Bombardelli [profile page] and academic sculptor Željko Radmilović, this radiant bronze abstract memorial sculpture was unveiled in 1976, celebrating 32 years since the Partisan's liberation of the city. On the granite base of the monument is a poetic inscription which roughly translates into English as: "Imprisoned, persecuted, tortured, executed... to them, as they suffered and died upright, for this country to live the love and gratitude of the people".
Photo 13: Monument to Prisoners & Internees
This monument continues to exist in good condition and routinely plays host to commemorative events. However, the monument is not widely known about and is not actively promoted by the city as a local attraction. The exact coordinates for this memorial sculpture are N43°30'47.9", E16°26'35.8".
Monument to the Battle of Klis:
On the cliffs overlooking the city of Split, roughly 9km to the NE, is a medieval stronghold known as Klis Fortress. In 1987, a monument was built at the entrance to the fortress to honor Partisan fighters who had perished during the Sept. 1943 Battle of Klis (Photo 14). This conflict consisted of Partisan fighters using this location as a defensive position to resist advancing German units who were attempting to occupy Split and expel the Partisan forces. Partisans had taken Split just a few weeks earlier after Italy had capitulated. The monument was built by famed Belgrade architect Bogdan Bogdanović [profile page], who was one of the most prolific WWII monument creators during the Yugoslav era. In the left part of Photo 14, Bogdanović can be seen in front of the monument.
Photo 15: The Altar to Adonis, at Dubrova Sculpture Park, Labin, Croatia
Photo 14: Monument to the Battle of Klis
This monument, which was the last major work that Bogdanović would create during his long career, is composed of Dalmatian limestone blocks carved into trapezoidal prisms, which are then stacked into a stout spire-like monolith, with a "cosmic wheel" like shape adorning the highest point of the spire. The work, which Bogdanović titled "Guardian of Freedom", appeared to stand roughly 11-12m tall. Detailed architectural drawings for this monument can be viewed at the 'Arhiva Modernizma' organization's website at THIS link. Interestingly, this monument is very similar to a smaller sculptural work titled "The Altar of Adonis" that Bogdanović made for the 1974 Mediterranean Sculptor Symposium at Dubrova Sculpture Park in the Istrian town of Labin, Croatia (Photo 15). Meanwhile, the Klis monument only stood a few years before the dismantling of Yugoslavia began and violent conflicts across the Dalmatian region arose during the War of Croatian Independence. Through the course of the war, the monument suffered significant vandalism. Then, just a few months after the end of the war in January of 1996, academic scholar Andrew Lawler relates that the Split-Dalmatia County Commission for Monuments, with support of the mayor of Klis, executed an order to have Bogdanović's monument torn down and removed as a result of it "being out-of-kilter with the architectural homogeneity of the Klis fortress ensemble". It was subsequently dismantled (Photo 14, right side) and all traces of it were removed from the site. During this time period, many Partisan/WWII monuments from the Yugoslav-era across Dalmatia and Croatia were being torn down or destroyed.
Upon visiting Klis Fortress today, the former location of the monument offers no hints (as far as signs, markers or informational boards) that it ever existed. However, it has not fully disappeared, as a few small bits of stone markers engraved with the names of fallen Partisan fighters originally part of the monument were relocated to the local Klis cemetery after its removal from the fortress, but the majority of the work was discarded and/or reused as building material. When asked about the destruction of his "Guardian of Freedom" monument at Klis in 1996, not long after its removal had occurred, sources report that Bogdanović responded by saying "I thought it had been taken down long ago... Destruction of monuments? Minor compared to the destruction of entire towns, people, my friends, the bridge in Mostar". The exact coordinates for the monument's former location are N43°33'36.9", E16°31'21.3". Yet, while the Klis monument can no longer be experienced, Bogdanović's sculpture at Dubrova Sculpture Park in Labin, Croatia continues to exist in good condition and can be easily visited. Its exact coordinates are N45°06'55.8", E14°06'59.7".
Monument to Fallen Shipyard Workers:
Situated in the northwestern quadrant of the city of Split, right along the seaside within Supaval Bay, is the famous Split Shipyards. These shipyards operate not only as the most significant shipping hub in the central Adriatic, but they are so storied and culturally integrated into the city's history that they date back to the Roman emperor Diocletian. During the Yugoslav-era, the shipyard built and launched hundreds of ships from its docks (destined for countries around the world), becoming the most important shipyard in Croatia and employing, at its height, around 4,000 workers. Just past the east entrance to these shipyards is located a monument that is dedicated to the Split dockworkers who fought and fell during WWII as part of the Partisan offensive (Photo 16). Of the 800 dockworkers that labored at the Split shipyard just before WWII, over 500 of them fought with the Partisan movement, with well over half of them perishing. This work, which was created in 1953 by Croatian sculptor Valerije Michieli, is composed of a large raised pedestal upon which stands a collection of five bronze nude figures that depict dockworkers in action, appearing to be in the process of pulling all together the ropes of a boat. Their raw and roughly rendered style lends to the symbolism of the severity of their work. Meanwhile, the large pedestal has installed upon it a series of black polished stone panels that are inscribed with the names of the many fallen dockworker Partisans.
Photo 16: A recent photo of the shipyard workers monument in Split. Photo credit: Andrea Topic/Index.hr
On the street-facing side of the monument, there exists a large inscription made onto the black polished stone panel. Translated into English, this inscription reads as:
"To the faithful sons of the working class who fell in the People's Liberation War and the Revolution of 1941 - 1945, a permanent memorial was erected by the workers' collective of the shipyard in 1953."
This monument continues to exist in good condition and a well maintained state up to the present day. However, I was not able to find any documentation or articles relating to whether or not commemorative events are still held here. Being that this monument resides within the premises of the shipyards, access to the site may be restricted. Its exact coordinates are N43°31'19.1", E16°26'37.0".
Lovrinac Partisan Cemetery:
About 5km east of the Old Town of Split is Lovrinac Cemetery. Established in the 1920s, Lovrinac is the central cemetery for the city of Split. For much of the Yugoslav-era, Split did not have a Partisan Cemetery, however, a memorial Partisan graveyard was finally established within Lovrinac in 1983 and funded by local labor organizations. Encompassing 6,000 sq m of space and situated on the northwest end of the cemetery, the landscape layout for the space was organized by the urban planners Miroslav & Jasenka Kollenz and Sonja Jurković, while the details of the cemetery's form was designed by engineer Budimir Prvan. The Partisan Cemetery consists of three main features: a central geometric fountain feature carved from granite stone (Photo 17), a grid of 404 stone cube grave markers spread around the fountain, and, lastly, a tunnel carved into the rocky hillside that leads to a crypt located directly behind the fountain.
Photo 17: A recent photo of the main memorial fountain of the Partisan Cemetery at Lovrinac in Split. Photo credit: Valentin Peric
Within the cave crypt of this Partisan Cemetery, the mortal remains of many Partisan fighters are laid to rest, which includes: 26 fighters of the 1st Split Partisan Detachment who perished at Košuta, 35 executed political prisoners shot at Trogir & Šubićevac, 11 fighters killed at Sevid, as well as 50 fighters killed at locations across Dalmatia. In addition, within the crypt are 11 polished stone plaques which bear the names of 1,853 Partisan fighters and victims of fascist terror from Split who perished during WWII (Photo 18). Meanwhile, around the fountain, there are seven National Heroes of Yugoslavia commemorated among the site's 404 stone markers.
During the 1990s, the Partisan Cemetery here at Lovrinac began to fall into disrepair. However, by the 2000s, significant efforts were put forward towards the restoration and renewal of this monument site. Today, the cemetery is well commemorated and sees regular honorific events held here. Its exact coordinates are N43°30'46.7", E16°29'28.4".
Photo 18: A recent photo of the memroial plaques within the Partisan Cemetery crypt. [source]
And Additional Sites of Interest:
Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments: Just west of the Split Old City at the south base of Marjan Hill is the Croatian Archological Monuments Museum, which is the only institution in Croatia dedicated exclusively to exhibits on Middle Ages artifacts. Housed in a beautiful modernist building of white unadorned horizontal terraces, it was constructed between 1972-1976 and was designed by the architects Mladen Kauzlarić, Zvonimir Vrkljan & Sena Gvozdanović. The impressive complex has over 5,000 artifacts on display. Its official website can be found at THIS link, while its coordinates are N43°30'15.5", E16°25'21.2".
Pomgrad Tower: While the Seafarer's Lighthouse was the first significant vertical structure in Split, the city's first true skyscraper was the Pomgrad Tower (Pomgrad neboder) (Photo 19), built in 1962 by architect Vuko Bombardelli [profile page]. The construction of this residential tower instigated a skyscraper boom in Split, with 30 more built in the city by 1970. This construction rush was mostly due to the housing shortage that Split was experiencing during this era caused by mass population migration to Yugoslav cities. Before WWII, the highest building in Split was only 5 stories, but the skyscraper trend of the 1960s was resulting in towers as high as 16 stories, dramatically altering the character of the city. As a result, height limitations were put in place. Located roughly 700m north of the Old City, Pomgrad Tower is a unique architectural landmark for Split, with its exact coordinates being N43°30'52.5", E16°26'22.9".
Photo 19: A historic view of the Pomgrad Tower [source]
Ivan Meštrović Gallery: Just a few dozen meters west of the Archeological Museum is the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, a museum which is dedicated to the most significant Croatian sculptor of the 20th century. His work was hugely influential during both the Kingdom and Socialist Federal Republic eras of Yugoslavia, and still remains highly popular to this day. The official website for the museum can be found at THIS link, while its exact coordinates are N43°30'17.5", E16°25'04.6".
Photo 20: A vintage postcard showing Koteks Shopping Center and Gripe Arena
Koteks Shopping Center & Gripe Arena: Roughly 500m east of the Split Old City is the “Gripe” Sports Arena. Created by Sarajevo architect Živorad Janković in 1979, this bright white plastered complex was built for Split’s hosting of the 1979 Mediterranean Games (Photo 20). The form of this sleek modernist stadium is dominated by sloping lines and sharp angles floating above walls of glass curtains, almost futuristic in appearance. In addition, as the complex was largely meant to attract Yugoslav youth, concerts were also held here. Interestingly, British rock group Dire Straits kicked off their 1985 “Brothers in Arms” world tour here at Gripe. After Gripe’s completion, Split architect Slaven Rožić began work on the “Koteks” shopping center, seen in the foreground. Completed in 1981, its design mirrors the architectural aesthetics of Janković’s arena and is considered by some to be the first true “shopping mall” in communist Europe. It has fallen into poor condition since its 1996 privatization, but some preservation groups, such as architectural group "Motel Trogir", have actively worked towards its protection and restoration. The exact coordinates for this complex are N43°30'31.5", E16°27'04.4".
The DalmacijaVino Factory: Directly in front of the Seafarer's Lighthouse is a now dilapidated and abandoned building which is often referred to locally as the "Terminal on the Breakwater", but what was originally the headquarters of the DalmacijaVino wine and beverage factory (Photo 21). This complex, built the year after the lighthouse in 1959 by architect Stanko Fabris, is a unique example of early Yugoslav-era industrial architecture made in the International Style, distinctly built right up to the Adriatic cliffs. Hundreds of people were employed here during the Yugoslav era, but business slowed into the 2000s, with the operation finally going bankrupt in 2012. The Croatian government took control of the property in 2016, but over the years it has continued to fall into extreme disrepair. This culturally significant property is also a site that architectural group "Motel Trogir" has advocated on behalf of, with hopes that it can be rehabilitated before it falls into completed dereliction (especially considering a bad fire started within the factory by transients in 2016). A 2020 article suggests that restoration efforts are potentially being considered for the derelict structure. The exact coordinates for the DalmacijaVino are N43°30'04.6", E16°26'33.5".
Photo 21: A photo of the abandoned DalmacijaVino factory [source]
Photo 22: A photo of the memorial mosaic located in the village of Vranjic
Memorial Mosaic at Vranjic: Roughly 4km north of the Split Old City is the small village of Vranjic, situated on a narrow rock outcrop that juts into the bay. Just as you enter the village passing over the causeway, you will see a beautiful memorial mosaic installed into a curved stone wall (Photo 22), dedicated to about 60 local victims who perished during WWII/People's Liberation Struggle. Created in 1956 by local Vranjic artist Marinko Benzon, this vibrant mosaic depicts a dynamic scene of fighters marching to war, as well as families mourning their departure. Interestingly, the scene is also populated by very surreal elements, such as a skull-faced fish swimming in the sky and a giraffe's head poking out of a pile of weapons. On the left and right edges of the mosaic is a list of fallen fighters, while at the center is a poetic inscription which roughly translates into English as "You have not returned to your native land at the morning of the celebration of our beloved homeland, but you shine in the face of its people, and they grow into light and into the wings of power, 1941-1945." The exact coordinates for this mosaic at Vranjic are N43°31'53.5", E16°27'50.5".
House of Socialist Youth: Just northeast of the Old Town of Split is a complex that was originally intended to be the House of Socialist Youth. Work on this facility began in 1974 under the direction of architect Frane Grgurević. However, in 1984, when construction dragged on for 10 years and all funds for the project were depleted without the building's completion, all work was suspended and the complex was abandoned. Starting in the mid-1990s, a group of artists began squatting in the dilapidated complex, using its vast open areas as art studios, performance spaces and galleries. Over the next decade, the art group (known as "Art Squata") battled for control over the building with Split authorities. In the early 2000s, the city of Split officially handed over control of the building to the artists, which is today called the "Youth Center Split" (Photo 23). The exact coordinates for this facility are N43°30'45.7", E16°27'01.6".
Photo 23: A photo of the former House of Socialist Youth, today Youth Center Split [source]
To get from the Split Old City to the Seafarer's Lighthouse monument is a relatively simple endeavor. Firstly, walk southeast out of the Old City towards the Ferry Port and train station along Obala kneza Domagoja (which is right along the waterfront). Then, in just under half a kilometer as this street is about to turn right into the Ferry Port, take a left onto 'Katalinićev prilaz'. Then, in about 170m as the street is about to take a sharp curve left over the train tracks, turn right onto the pathway leading into Park Pomoraca. Follow the path uphill towards the bluffs and you will easily find the Seafarer's Lighthouse monument complex. Walking is probably the easiest way to get here, but if you are driving, parking can be made whereever possible (but keep in mind that parking here is very difficult). The exact coordinates for the complex are N43°30'03.1", E16°26'35.3".
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Selected Sources and More Information:
-Marin Kuzmić book: "Antifascist Split, War Chronicles, 1941-1945"
-English Wikipedia article: "History of Split"
-Aleksandar Jakir paper: "Split od travnja 1941. do rujna 1943. godine: mjesto fašističke represije i antifašističkog otpora"
-Croatian Wikipedia article: "Bitka za Split 1943."
-100 Posto article: "Strašna tragedija pogodila je Split pred 75 godina"
-InfoZona.hr article: "Zaustavite prokletstvo Katalinka"
-DAZ artcle: "Zaboravljeni splitski spomenik-svjetionik"
-Pogledaj.to article: "Obnovljen 35-metarski Svjetionik “Pomorac”"
-Zarez magazine article: "Svijetla vrata Splita" [page 31]
-SABH article: "Ovdje je sloboda u lancima bila kršila okove razvijala krila"
-Andrew Lawler paper: "The Memorial works of Bogdan Bogdanović: Their condition and situation as of 2012."
-My Radiant City article: "Inside an abandoned wine factory"
-Stanko Piplović paper: "Javni spomenici u splitskoj luci" [PDF] [pages 195-220]
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