What Père Lachaise is to Paris, Mirogoj is to Zagreb. A main cemetery where many important citizens lie in their eternal peace, together with untold hundreds of common folk from Zagreb. But Mirogoj is more than that. Its arcades, pavilions and tombs are like monuments to architecture, and make it an open-air art gallery. Its natural beauty also stays in the memory, as well as the history whispering from every corner of its huge stone walls.
Even at its very beginning, Mirogoj couldn’t have started without a historical figure. In this case, it was Ljudevit Gaj, a very influential linguist and journalist who lived in the 19th century. He was the leader of the so-called Illyrian Movement, which greatly developed Croatian literature and political maturity. After his death, Zagreb rulers bought his estate in order to build a massive cemetery there.
The task of designing it was given to Austrian architect Hermann Bollé. He opted to surround the actual graves with arcades and pavilions. He also imagined Mirogoj’s ground plan as a reflection of 19th century Zagreb downtown, creating a “Town of the Dead”.
This sounded like a good idea, and work began in 1879. Five years later, Bollé was asked to design a morgue for Mirogoj. Two decades after that, he had to lay plans for constructing the chapel of Christ the King, the very heart of the entire cemetery.
Bollé’s Mirogoj was finished in 1929, as the last of his ideas left the drawing board and became architectural reality. Its construction took half of the century to finish.
I took this photo as I was returning from the funeral of my neighbour, last summer. Although it was a beautiful, sunny day, this dark, moody version came so naturally to me.
Leanne Cole hosts Monochrome Madness Challenge and you can check more monochrome images on her blog Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY. If you want to join us in our weekly fun, you’ll find all the necessary details there too.