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Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Partisan Memorial Cemetery

This surreal memorial/cemetery is a necropolis of crumbling stonework and puzzle-shaped headstones. 

Built to honor the Yugoslav partisans who died during World War II, the Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar is a just as much of a monument in itself as it is an actual cemetery where the dead have been put to rest. But since its creation the strange, graveyard has become a dilapidated dumping ground that looks like an abandoned fantasy kingdom.

The sprawling stone memorial was designed by architect Bogdan Bogdanović, known for his politically-inspired abstract concrete sculptures. Finished in 1965, the cemetery holds the remains of 560 members of Yugoslavia’s National Liberation Army who were killed during World War II. The strange boneyard was designed in tiers, not unlike a rice paddy, and the gravestones are shaped like puzzle pieces. All of the burial steps lead up to a grand wall at the back of the site that has a fountain at it’s center that is overlooked by a concrete artwork that looks like gears or maybe suns. Through out the monumental cemetery are paths that lead in between tall concrete canyons that seem like something from a warlock’s labyrinth.

Unfortunately, the cemetery had fallen into severe disrepair by the 1990s, with the concrete walls covered in graffiti, and trash littering every nook and cranny of the space. It was also damaged by fighting and war. In 2005 a restoration effort took place that repaired many of the monuments and works, but unfortunately the site soon fell into disrepair once again, with trash and graffiti again taking over the cemetery. 

Today the graveyard is said to be a landmark, but the neglect shows in the garbage-filled fountain, and crumbling cement. However it is still a haunting place to visit.