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Monument with Ossuary of Peoples Hero Vladimir Gortan

Beram, Croatia
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The memorial complex is only partially preserved and the structure would definitely benefit from a restoration. The monument was initially composed of white monolithic geometrical accents in a green expanse, which mirrored the traditional monument and church builds in the nearby settlement of Beram, where Croatian patriot Vladimir Gortan was born. Due to a residential community having been built in the immediate vicinity, this original attribute of the monument was subsequently ruined. This essential element of the monument, which has significant urban-architectural and artistic value, is thus retained only on original black-and-white photographs from the past.

Notwithstanding the commemorative character of the monument itself, this is the first monument in Istria which represents a deviation from figurative depictions of memorial complexes up to that point, which were constructed in all the republics of socialist Yugoslavia after World War 2. The monument's authors - architects and urban planners by profession - used simple geometric elements with the emphasis on typologically related shapes of the obelisk and the headstone, and insisted on using clear structures and respecting the environment and tradition of the place itself. In doing this, they created - in our opinion - one of the exceptional works of Croatian memorial heritage. By using geometric shapes, employing a considered and harmonious mutual relationship, and establishing a link to the spatial context, the authors created a distinctive allegorical "connection" between historical events and the present situation of the time. The monument was created in the period of complicated international political and social upheavals of the post-war era: the Istrian question and its unification with Slovenia and Croatia to form the Yugoslav federation. Until the adoption of the London Memorandum in 1954, the question of Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste in Istria also remained unresolved. The fact that this monument was erected by the people of Istria on 14th June 1953 thus announced the engendering of a certain spiritual climate which contributed not only to the commencement of a more tranquil period but also to the development and restructuring of many social processes, which contributed to the fostering of a certain economic, material and cultural development, and an enhanced international profile. In short, it could be claimed that this was a period of general progress in which many contradictions remained unperceived. This was also a time of numerous activities and successful co-operation, which represented a definite factor of general progress, as well as progress in art.

The radically pared down, indeed abstract elements of the monument complex did not raise eyebrows with the townspeople. A testament to this is a statement by Zvonimir Bacac (Beram; b. 1939), who said that a multitude of people were present at the erection of the monument in 1953, including among them President Tito. With the congruity of its geometric elements, the considered attitude toward the white stone, the greenery in the vicinity, and the architectural whole of the nearby Beram, the monument represented a foray into constructing a large number of similar monuments produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

The monument comprises three elements: a stone-paved platform measuring 180 sqm, a monolith stone block/sarcophagus (height: 170 cm; length: 200 cm; width: 100 cm), and a vertical shape clad in stone slabs (height: 1000 cm; length: 150 cm; width: 70 cm). The sides of the stone block/sarcophagus - the narrower lower base and the wider upper surface - are composed of scenes in relief and typographically uniform carved inscriptions. On the eastern and western sides, there are images of tools (a hoe, a knife, scissors, a plough, and an axe) carved in low relief. The text carved in the eastern side of the vertical, which has the shape of an obelisk, has uniform typography.