Jan Kempenaers - monument

During the 1960s and 70s, Yugoslavia’s then president, Josip Broz Tito, ordered the construction of several monuments built to represent the past struggles of the nation. These monuments honored fallen soldiers and victims of oppression during World War II, and are spread out across the Balkan region.

Erected in random fields and vast forests on sites that formerly served as the scene of battles and the locations of concentration camps from Croatia through Serbia and beyond, these incredible buildings were captured by Belgian photographer Jan Kempenaers over the course of four years as part of a project called Spomenik.

The photographs demonstrate just how these truly unique edifices are peculiar, as they stand abandoned in the Balkan wilderness. As time passes and WWII become an increasingly distant memory, younger generations have little to no memory of the symbolism behind these pieces, which themselves seem to be fading into the past.

Even more impressively, despite the fact that these buildings were mostly built between the 1970s and the 1980s, a good number of them seem to be lifted right out of the pages of science fiction, with swooping curves and towering spires that are completely uncharacteristic of the architecture of the time. Whether they were created to showcase the force and strength of the Balkan empire, or to ward off or deter future invasions, their architecture stands in stark contrast to the surrounding wilderness that seems to be fighting to reclaim it.

Read more about and see more of these incredible monuments here.

Header image: The Mrakovica Memorial stands in honour of the Battle of Kozara in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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A memorial that pays tribute to the Kosmaj Partisan detachment of WWII. Located in Belgrade, Serbia

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Memorial dedicated to concentration camp victims at the Jasenovac camp, in Croatia.

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Memorial in Tjentiste commemorating the Battle of the Sutjeska

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Memorial dedicated to the people of Kordun and Banija in Croatia

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Memorial honoring the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment.

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Memorial commemorating the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.

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A monument to the revolution of the people of Moslavina, in Podgaric, Croatia.

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A monument dedicated to fallen fighters of Zenica Partisan Detachment – an anti-Nazi resistance movement.

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Category: Architecture