Memorial park Popina is one of the acclaimed architect's final works. It was created to honour the Republic of Užice, the first sizeable liberated territory within the entire German Reich in 1941. On 12th October, the Nazi forces, outnumbering the Partisans several times in men and armament, forced them to retreat in the battle of Popina. The monument is designed as a 100m long gunsight/target, comprising a stone block with an inscription, two stone monoliths each terminating in an arch, and a central pyramid with round windows arranged in a line aimed into the infinity. Inspired with Boullée-esque architecture, the archetypal forms speak to us about the Revolution and the ideal society, while their orientation relative to the Sun addresses eternal themes of life, death, and sacrifice.
Bogdan Bogdanović set the whole complex according to celestial settings. On the day when the foundation stone was set he was walking with a long stick in one hand and with a large pocket-watch in the other, while constantly looking at the sky. When the Sun was in the zenith he marked the exact positions for the planned structures. The officials, the journalists and everyone present were astonished by his act while he was pretty much having fun which was one of the premises upon he worked. He said if you were bored while drawing or building something, it would for sure be a disaster and that everything he created was a game for him. The most important thing for Bogdanović was to feel good while creating. He thought that his genuine interest while working is what made his monuments interesting to the others as well (still today), and even to the ones who don’t know their meaning. I think he was particularly happy because they were popular among the children as their playgrounds. What once was a game for him, later inspired/inspires others to play with it too in many different ways.
The Monument Construction
In 1977, the local governments of Vrnjačka Banja and Trstenik put forth funds (which were supplemented with donations from across Yugoslavia) for a construction project to create a memorial to honor the primary site of the Battle of Popina on Nebrak Hill. The instigating factor behind creating this monument for these municipalities was to stimulate the tourist economy by creating an attraction that would bring in visitors from across Serbia. In this pursuit, they even went as far as petitioning famed architect and designer Bogdan Bogdanović, a designer famously recognized for creating the internationally acclaimed WWII monuments at Jasenovec and Mostar. At the time Bogdanović was approached with this proposal he was already in retirement, however, after being offered full creative control of the final product and final decisions in all planning matters, he decided to take on the commission.