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Mirogoj included in 7 most endangered cultural heritage sites in Europe

Mirogoj Cemetery Zagreb

Europa Nostra, Federation for Cultural Heritage, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute included Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb in the top 7 most endangered cultural sites. Along with Croatia, this year, the programme consists of sites from Austria, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Spain. The programme’s mission is to raise awareness, estimate the level of damage, suggest future actions and provide publicity for potential investments. 

The 7 most endangered programme 

The programme started in 2013 as an initiative to save endangered cultural heritage in Europe. By listing selected sites every year, Europe Nostra began the project to raise awareness and save forgotten or damaged monuments. Listed sites don’t receive direct funding but get the publicity that creates public or private investments. 

Every selected site is chosen based on cultural value and how endangered it is. Locations that have local communities involved and can become symbols of sustainable development get extra points and are added to the short-list of twelve. Finally, seven enter the programme each year when experts analyse them and create renovation projects to be used as part of future investment plans. 

In 2021, Europa Nostra and EIB had a meeting with representatives of each country that made the list. Croatian Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek and European Commission Trustee Mariya Gabriel joined the virtual meeting. 

The Minister also pointed out that in addition to having Mirogoj enlisted, the European Union granted 600 million euro of financial aid to cultural monuments damaged by earthquakes in 2020.

Mirogoj, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe

Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb was constructed between 1876 and 1929 following a design of a German architect Herman Bollé. The cemetery complex has a recognisable neo-classical style. 

The architect was inspired by Campo Santo, a world famous cemetery in the Vatican and large parks, combining both in his design for Mirogoj. 

Central open space is surrounded by arcades that were constructed in phases. In most cases, members of different religions would finance arcade constructions, connecting pavilions and chapels along the outer walls. 

Since the opening in 1876, burial ceremonies have been held at Mirogoj, the first multireligious cemetery in Zagreb. It is the final resting place for many important historical figures, sportsmen and celebrities, like Dražen Petrović and the first Croatian president, Franjo Tuđman. 

Today, Mirogoj is one of the most important historical monuments in Zagreb and is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of tourists. It is part of the European Cemetery Route and is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe. 

In March 2020, Zagreb was hit by a devastating earthquake. Mirogoj was severely damaged. Many decorative and architectural elements were destroyed, and walls and floors damaged. Immediately after the earthquake, the Ministry of Culture and Media started a renovation project slowed down by an additional earthquake that hit nearby Petrinja and severe rain that followed. 

By making the list of endangered cultural sites, Mirogoj is undergoing a detailed analysis of structural damage. Conservators are working on a project to provide a complete rebuilding plan, this time making sure to be earthquake-proof and preserve the structure in case of possible future disasters. 

Mirogoj has a historical, social and emotional value to everyone in Zagreb and Croatia. The Ministry is optimistic about the news from Europa Nostra, as they believe with international involvement Mirogoj will attract many domestic and international investments that will renovate and preserve it completely. 

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