Europa Nostra and EIB Institute mission visits the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj, Croatia

After a forced break from onsite missions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute (EIB-I) went to Croatia for a mission related to the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj in Zagreb, listed among the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe for 2021. On 30 September and 1 October, the European delegation visited the site and met with Ms Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Minister of Culture and Media of Croatia, and national authorities and specialists in various fields, with the aim of rehabilitating this fine example of European Neoclassical architecture which incurred heavy damage following two major earthquakes in 2020.

The Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia, which submitted the nomination of the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj to the 7 Most Endangered Programme, opened the doors of this important monument to our experts. The delegation was composed of John Sell, Architect and Chair of the 7 Most Endangered Advisory Panel, on behalf of Europa Nostra, Thomas Hackett and Campbell Thomson, Technical Consultants contracted by the European Investment Bank Institute (EIB-I).

On 30 September, the European delegation of heritage and financial specialists met and had exchanges with many Croatian experts involved in the restoration of the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj. The main topics of discussion were the history and importance of the complex in the local and European contexts, the geodetic and architectural scans and photography taken after the earthquakes, and the projects for renovation and revitalisation of the cemetery.

7ME 2021 Mission to the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj, Croatia

In attendance were Davor Trupković, Director of the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage; Tatjana Horvatić, Head of Sector for Movable, Ethnographic and Intangible Cultural Heritage; Pia Sopta, Senior Expert Advisor in the Sector for International Cultural Cooperation and European Affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Media; Roko Gruja, Head of Branch; Sanja Magzan, Head of Service at Zagreb Cemeteries; Marijana Sironić, Acting Director of City Institute for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage; and Almin Đapo, Dean of the Faculty of Geodesy in Zagreb.

After the visit to the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj, the expert team visited the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus, the Zagreb Cathedral and the Museum of Arts and Crafts, accompanied by its Director, Miroslav Gašparović, and its Head of Maintenance Department, Irma Huić.

7ME 2021 Mission to the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj, Croatia

On 1 October, the expert team from Europa Nostra and the EIB-I had the opportunity to meet Ms Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Minister of Culture and Media of Croatia. They exchanged views regarding the restoration of the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj and the broader topic of the skilled workforce needed for such a renovation. The Minister underlined that the Croatian experts have the necessary skills and expertise, but that Croatia awaits a comprehensive recovery, which will require substantial financial resources and an adequate response to the various challenges this case presents.

7ME 2021 Mission to the Historic Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj, Croatia

The European delegation agreed that the rehabilitation of the Cemetery Complex will be intricate, taking into consideration the functioning of the cemetery and its day-to-day activities, the conservation works and public use of the cemetery. Among other challenges, the tourism potential of the Cemetery Complex should be capitalised, so that the management of the site can be sustainable in the long-term. In addition, there is just a short window of opportunity to make best use of the financial allocation which has been granted by the European Solidarity Fund, and so there are also time constraints to be considered in rolling out an appropriate response to the myriad issues facing the site. The key findings and recommendations of the mission will be published in a report in the first half of 2022.

All photos are Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia

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Press release in Croatian released by the Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia

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