August 27, 2011

Zeitenlik Serbian Cemetery in Thessaloniki

The allied military cemetery Zeitenlik (Зејтинлик) is where the graves of the soldiers who died on the Salonika front in WW1 are, it's near the center of Thessaloniki on a former Olive plantation on Langada Street.
On the way from the Greek Seaside back to Serbia we stopped by, to see the Serbian Cemetery (in the near there are also the French, English, Italian and Russian Cemeteries). The Greek Government bought the land where the cemeteries would be located and ceded it to the allies usufruct, while the maintenance of the cemeteries would be left to the single governments of the countries. Greece gave the land for free released all materials and work from customs duties and taxes.
For the Serbian cemetery it was Savo Mihailović who (in 1926), collected remains of Serbian warriors (scattered along the Salonika front area) moved them to the new cemetery space and was the guardian until he died in 1928.
A concept was made, the building elements (made from a stone from "Momin Kamen" a stone pit near Vladicin Han) were brought from Serbia. The granite slabs were brought from Kadina Luka and the concrete from Beocin.
The pieces for the mausoleum and about 2'000 stone crosses were made, and to trim so much stone it took until 1933. Cypresses (seeding from Hilandar) were planted all over to act as "eternal guards to the fallen freedom fighters".
The mosaics on the chapel were made by a Greek artist inspirited by Serbian medieval frescoes. The actual building time was from 1933 until 1936, when November 11 the mausoleum with chapel and krypt were officially consecrated.
After Savo Mihailovic's death in 1928 it was his son Djuro Mihailovic that took care of the cemetery during the WW2 and protected the relics from Nazi robberies. When he died in 1961 he was burried next to his father in Zeitenlik.
Today it's Djuro's son Djordje Mihailovic that is taking care of this sacred place. Like his granddad and father he lives in the the keeper's house inside the cemetery where he always lived with his Greek wife and a daughter.
The daughter got now married herself and since there are no male descendants it's a bit of a question who will take care of the facility in the future.
Djordje Mihailovic is very friendly and takes interested people (and lots of school classes) to the krypt under the mausoleum and shows all the memorabilia and explains how the 5'580 graves under the chapel are organized.
Further 1'440 graves are outside marked by a stone cross and the there are 2 common graves one for the 78 nameless soldiers fallen on the Salonika Front and the other for the 217 nameless soldiers fallen in Tsargrad (today Istanbul).

The rest of the pictures are on my Flickr Collection here.

Unfortunately we didn't have much time for visiting Thessaloniki this time. But my friend MsLarsen visited the city earlier this year and made fantastic pictures and I'd like to share them here:

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August 18, 2011

Skopje - this time for real!

A bit more than one year ago I made a post about Skopje - writing that I wished to visit the city and take pictures of the wonderful buildings I was showing in the post. This summer, driving back from a short Greece holiday we had a good opportunity to visit this city.

In the beginning I was really exited, as driving into the city I discovered quickly all the modern brutalist buildings of my post.

The main post office

Macedonian Telecomunication Building

The Macedonian National Radio and Television building

St. Kliment Cathedral

Some cool highrise buildings

I was also absolutely enthusiastic about the old town, one of the biggest Bazaars after Istambul. Walking along the narrow streets flanking old caravanserais, hammams and shops made a good picture of what Skopje had been in the past. However here you notice the high percentage of Albanian population in Skopje (around 25%).

 The old town is full of nice squares filled with cozy taverns where I can recommend to try the local Skopsko Beer (скопско Пиво).

Crossing the old Stone Bridge to reach the other side of the Vardar River I was rather horrified to see what a big nonsense is being made with the center of Skopje!!!!

 The River Banks and Macedonia Square are being transformed in a ridiculous mix of  "Asterix at the Olympic Games" and "Hellenic Las Vegas"!

 In a span of 5 years investments of 200 Millions € should give Skopje a historical center and an identity. The project is called "Skopje 2014".

Of course history can not be made by CAD Visualisations and identity can not be artificially created by usurpation of the neighbour's one (what's about the 22meter statue of Alexander the Great, on the center of the square?).

Also the 68 country flags all over the center and the big white statues of Greek heroes look a bit desperate......

I'd better stop commenting...(and forget what I saw)...and better write about one of the really beautiful building of the center: the Ristic Palace, now an office complex, built in 1926 by Serbian pharmacist Vladislav Ristic. (and the title Picture of this post!)

The palace is one of the few large buildings in Skopje from that period that survived the shocks of the 1963 Skopje earthquake. The architectural design of the building is credited to Dragutin Maslać and construction credit is to Danilo Stanković, who provided the sculptural aspects of the building.

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