Thursday, June 14, 2012

The resting place of all faiths - Mirogoj, Zagreb

The entrance of Mirogoj
When traveling, we always look for a new experience and a place different from our backyard at home. At times, my curiosity in the history of the dead is equally intriguing as the living. This had brought me to Mirogoj; in search for the Muslims who was buried in this burial ground many years ago. Mirogoj was once the burial ground of all faith and religions in Zagreb. When I told everyone that we were going to the cemetery, all eyes were on me! The only words I said, "Come on, you'll enjoy it!" 

From the Tomislav Square, we walked straight up the steep hill towards the Zagreb Cathedral (Kaptol) and from there we took bus number 106. It is not far- about 2.5 km away from the city, we got off after four stops. There is actually a bus and tram that goes up the hill but asking around would take time since not many Croatians speak English. While waiting for the bus, we met a friendly old man who tried to communicate with us but unfortunately we couldn't make sense of what he was trying to say. He got on the same bus and we realized that he was going to Mirogoj too when he got off the bus with us. He then spent his quiet moment sitting in a secluded area of the park; perhaps he found peace in Mirogoj. 

The friendly Croatian man
Mirogoj Cemetery is noted as one of the most beautiful cemetery parks in Europe and a well known landmark in the city of Zagreb. Once upon a time the cemetery is a burial ground of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and others. It is also the last resting place of many famous Croatians. The cemetery was created in 1876 and most parts were completed by 1929.

The fact that  the first Muslim was buried in the Zagreb Mirogoj cemetery in 1883 marked the beginnings of a Muslim community and his tomb indicated the start of the oldest Muslim cemetery in central Europe.  The census in 1910 recorded the existence of a small 35-strong Muslim community in Zagreb which grew to 2000 permanent inhabitants in 1941.
A special feature of the Muslim cemetery is a two-metre high Islamic monument from 1873. We went searching for the Nišan of the Ferhatović family in the Mirogoj cemetery but unfortunately we could not locate the Muslim quarter. After a few hours at the cemetery we had to leave. The next day, Mirano told us that he could locate the Muslims section of the cemetery but unfortunately we didn't have the time to go to Mirogoj again.

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