Zagreb’s Most Unusual Tourist Attraction

I’m not usually one to visit cemeteries but when I saw a photo of the stunning arcades of one of Zagreb’s unusual tourist attractions I thought it was a place that we should visit. Mirogoj Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and is also recognised as one of the most beautiful. It is actually more than a cemetery. It is a place where architecture, art and history come together in beautiful landscaped gardens.

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

History
The land on which the cemetery was built was originally the summer house and gardens of Illyrian leader Ljudevit Gaj. When he died in 1872, the town of Zagreb bought the land for a cemetery and opened it in 1876. Austrian architect Hermann Bollé began work in 1879 on the stunning northern and southern arcades that are a feature of the cemetery and later built the cemetery’s morgue. He designed the central dome and the Church of Christ the King that joined the arcades but these were only finished three years after his death in 1927.

His incredible design features arcades, domes and pavilions. Sculptures by local artists on the graves have turned the arcades into galleries.

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

The central dome of the Church of Christ the King joins the northern and southern arcades.

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

The bust of architect Herman Bollé is seen on the pillar on the left

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

 

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

The entrance to the southern arcade

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

The stunning southern arcade with its stunning tiled floor

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

 

There seems to be no obvious segregation of the graves into religious areas. One minute you will be looking at a huge statue in memory of a Croatian historical figure and next door is gravesite of a Jewish family. Eerily some of the mausoleums already have names inscribed of those still living….their final resting place already reserved.

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Some of the incredible sculptures on the graves.

 

It’s very peaceful walking along the tree lined paths that criss cross the beautifully landscaped grounds. Chestnut trees, lime trees, maple-trees and spruces are just some of the varieties that have been planted. Chapels and mausoleums peek out from behind the trees and more beautiful statues decorate the graves of well known Croatian figures.

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Tree lined paths in the cemetery

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Cemetery-12

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

The Herman Bollé designed morgue

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

 

Mirogoj Cemetery, Zagreb

Looking into the northern arcade

 

I’m told the day to visit the cemetery is on November 1st…All Saints Day, when families come to remember their loved ones, decorating the graves with flowers and masses of candles creating a magical atmosphere.

 

How to get there
Take bus No 106 from Zagreb’s Cathedral to Mirogoj. It will take about 15 minutes.

 

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27 Responses to Zagreb’s Most Unusual Tourist Attraction

  1. Ana March 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    Do you know what? I go to Zagreb practically annually, and I’ve never been to Mirogoj yet! Must rectify that. Thanks for the great post.

    • Jenny Freedman March 5, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

      I amazed Ana! You’ll spend hours there taking photos! It really is a fascinating place…have fun and let me know when you go!

  2. Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot March 5, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Hi Jenny,

    Zagreb is an unusual travel destination in itself so love you’ve found the unusual within the unusual. The cemetery looks like a very peaceful spot. I’m a big fan of Pere Lachaise cemetery in France and would definitely visit Mirogoj Cemetery if I was ever in Zagreb – you never know!

    • Jenny Freedman March 5, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

      Would you believe that with all the times I’ve been to Paris, I still haven’t been to Pere Lachaise cemetery! I hope you get to Zagreb one day Annabel. Croatia is a great country!

  3. budget jan March 5, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I look forward to visiting Zagreb. I too am not one to visit cemeteries but as you point out this is much more than a cemetary. I believe that Milan has an unusual cemetery to visit as well. I had it on our list but as we had less than a day in Milan we did not get there. 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman March 5, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

      I hadn’t heard about Milan’s Cemetery Jan…I’ll have to check it out. Mirogoj is definitely worth a visit…quite beautiful!

  4. Deb March 5, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    I visited Mirogoj while I was in Zagreb and it was the highlight of my visit. Nice to see your photos with green folage as it was autumn when I visited.

    • Jenny Freedman March 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

      It’s great to hear it was a highlight of your trip Deb. The autumn colours would have been pretty to see. Thanks for visiting.

  5. Krista March 5, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    I must be the odd one out for I love visiting cemeteries. 🙂 It makes me feel connected to those who’ve gone before, somehow. This one is absolutely gorgeous. 🙂

  6. Leigh March 7, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    It almost looks more like a garden than a cemetery – especially with that beautiful sculptural piece.

    • Jenny Freedman March 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      It was originally the summer garden for one of their leaders Leigh, so a lot of the trees were already there when Zagreb bought the land. With the architecture and the sculptures it is a gallery as well! Quite an incredible place!

  7. Johanna March 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    I always find cemetetrys very calming, spiritual places where stories abound in the headstones. I think Mirogoj would awaken the storyteller in me too, especially those colonnaded passageways and names of the not yet dead. That’s a little spooky. So looking forward to visiting Croatia, so we now have another place on the list.

    • Jenny Freedman March 8, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      I was amazed how peaceful and beautiful Mirogoj was! Yes, it was a bit spooky reading names with no dates…I wonder how they feel. If you do go to Zagreb, Mirogoj is certainly worth a visit.

  8. Joy @MyTravelingJoys March 7, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Great photos! I actually enjoy visiting cemeteries! You can find some fantastic architecture as well as history about the place. There’s some great ones to visit for those reasons in Istanbul, Warsaw and elsewhere in Poland.

    And yes, Nov. 1, is a good day to visit the cemeteries in Poland as well! 🙂

    • Jenny Freedman March 8, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

      Thanks Joy. I haven’t been to Poland yet but there are certainly some fascinating cemeteries in Turkey.Some of the headstones are so beautiful! I’ll remember your comment if I ever go to Poland!

  9. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey March 8, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Perfect timing for this! We are going there in a few weeks time, and I can not wait!

    • Jenny Freedman March 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Thats great Sarah-Jane. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  10. Agness March 8, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    To me, it’s a mixture of Italian and Spanish architecture with a touch of French style! Great ! Can’t wait to make it there!

    • Jenny Freedman March 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm #

      There’s definitely is a mix of cultures at the cemetery Agness with a stunning result. Not surprisingly, the Italian influence is very strong throughout Croatia

  11. Hi Jenny, what an interesting post. I love visiting unique cemeteries. They maybe creepy to some but I’m fascinated about the history that surround them and the effort put to make them look peaceful and pleasant. I’m also fascinated with the artistry that I find in them. The architecture in the cemetery is amazing as well as the sculptures and the gardens. Most of all, I like the thought of beautifying the surrounding out of respect for the dearly departed.

    • Jenny Freedman March 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      Thanks Marisol. I certainly don’t find cemeteries creepy…they fascinate me to. Mirogoj is quite amazing, certainly one to visit if you are ever in Croatia

  12. Cathy Sweeney March 10, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    I’ve never seen a cemetery quite like this and I’ve been to quite a few. The art and architecture is amazing added to the history and of course, the personal stories that you can imagine of those laid to rest there. I’m putting Mirogoj on my list of sites to visit in Zagreb.

    • Jenny Freedman March 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      You won’t be disappointed with a visit here Cathy. I don’t usually visit cemeteries but I’m glad that I went to see this one. I’ll be expecting big things from some of the other ones I’ve been recommended!

  13. Jess @UsedYorkCity March 11, 2014 at 6:42 am #

    Funny enough, every major trip/traveling excursion I’ve ever been on I’ve always visited cemeteries! The architecture is divine, and there’s something very peaceful about taking a quiet stroll through and reflecting about those that came before.

    • Jenny Freedman March 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      This was my first cemetery visit Jess! Maybe I’ll have to add them to the list whenever I visit a city! So true..it was incredibly peaceful wandering around the gardens and seeing some of the incredible sculptures on the graves.

  14. Heather March 13, 2014 at 6:13 am #

    How lovely! I’ve visited several cemeteries in Europe and will be adding this one to the list. I love how the mansion has been repurposed in such an unusual way.

    • Jenny Freedman March 14, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      It’s a good one to add to the list Heather! The gardens and architecture are stunning!

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