Spomenik: Forgotten relics from a country that no longer exists

Kosmaj, Serbia

Podgaric, Croatia 

Kozara, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Tjentiste, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Krusevo, Macedonia

Korenica, Croatia

Nis, Serbia

Scattered across the former Yugoslavian countryside stand enormous Spomeniks. Long-abandoned WWII monuments built in the 60s–70s at historic locations. Millions came to visit these monolithic structures. However, after the demise of Yugoslavia, they were almost entirely forgotten and fell into disrepair.

A few years ago, Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers toured the Balkans with an old map in search of these relics and here are a few pictures from his book (available from Amazon, already on my wish list).

They have such a strange other-worldly quality about them. Beautiful but sad. 'Beautiful' maybe isn't the right word. More like, they exude strength and must have demanded attention and respect. Now, they seem quite stark and ominous, protruding from the landscape like something that doesn't belong. Perhaps they always looked like that? Even after being abandoned, vandalised and stripped of their meaning, they're still magnificent, if only from a sculptural perspective.

I've gone back to Serbia a few times since we moved to Perth, but I haven't had a chance to do much more than visit relatives. Next time, I'll make sure I see at least one Spomenik!

For more info and images, visit Crack Two, Trendland and ISO50.

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