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Partisan Memorial Cemetery (1965, Mostar)

The Partisan Memorial Cemetery commemorates the victims who sacrificed their lives in the fight against fascism by the partisans. It is considered a symbol of anti-fascist resistance, liberation, and the desire for coexistence.

Erected in the name of the fallen partisans of Mostar and all those who lived and acted with deep anti-fascist conviction, it is today one of the largest monuments to the People’s Liberation War and its victims in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans.

Basic information about the Partisan Memorial Cemetery:

  • Conceptualized by Džemal Bijedić, a revolutionary from Mostar, later a state official and one of Josip Broz Tito’s closest associates.
  • “An architectural wonder (…) arising from the visions of an architect, an artist of extraordinary talent and remarkable skill, a collective memory builder of our peoples, Bogdan Bogdanović.”
  • Construction took place for 5 years, from 1960 to 1965. Master stonemasons from Korčula and Dubrovnik were hired to execute the works, alongside the masons from Posušje and Mostar.
  • The monument mosaic incorporated 12,000 stone details and 1,193 square meters of stone slabs that the citizens of Mostar donated from their old dilapidated houses. Over 87,000 stone pebbles extracted from the bottom of the Neretva River cover an area of 871 square meters.
  • 810 memorial plaques were installed, with names engraved on around 630 of them, and the remains of the fallen anti-fascists were transferred to the memorial cemetery.
  • The surrounding area around the Monument was reforested by the youth through voluntary work.

Source: Partisan Monument in Mostar, IKRO Prva književna komuna, Mostar 1980.

stonemasons at work
Youth helping out
Bogdanović harmoniously connected symbols from different cultural and religious traditions on his monuments, ensuring that none of them were dominant and that they did not harm the idea and universal message of his monuments. Metaphysics was more important to him than physics, spirit more important than matter, and ideas more important than ideology. Fra Drago Bojić, Source: Source of images.
Biljke na Partizanskom groblju u Mostaru
Domestic plants planted at the Partisan Memorial Cemetery include rosemary, lavender, sage, and santolina.

Everyone wanted to participate and help in any way they could, each in their own way and without reservation. Citizens contributed according to their means, some with money, and if they didn’t have money, they donated stones from their old family homes that had been seriously weathered by time.

Partizansko groblje
Bogdan Bogdanović, a world-renowned, Yugoslavian, Serbian, Belgrade-born architect left Mostar with a magnificent monument as his legacy…
Partizansko groblje
The future location of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery (in the frame, the picture taken in the 1950s)
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“The Mostar monument, both in its architecture and in its spirit, is a symbol of Yugoslav culture. It is neither Serbian, nor Croatian, nor Muslim, but belongs to all, connecting and carrying a formula beyond these divisions.” 
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“Will our children’s children see in this monument the image of a strange proud and humane city, raised like a mirage somewhere between heaven and earth? And will they recognize their city in it in a distant, proud and difficult time when it was hardest of all to be and remain a human? Not without a certain fear, but also without decisiveness, the builder would briefly answer: they will recognize both the city and the man, they will meet as long as there are man and city.” (1980)

Who is buried at the Partisan Memorial Cemetery?

“According to the decision (of the Municipal Assembly, note), the mortal remains of those individuals who lived in Mostar before May 15, 1945, and lost their lives by that time will be buried in the cemetery. This includes individuals who were part of the Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia (POJ), National Liberation Army and Partisan Units (NOVJ), and Yugoslav Army (JA), as well as those who actively participated in the National Liberation War (NOB), and those who were imprisoned, in camps or in internment, if they were captured or arrested while fighting and carrying out tasks of the People’s Liberation Movement (NOP), as well as those who were imprisoned or in camps in 1941 as members of the revolutionary movement. The mortal remains of fighters who served in the armed military formations of the anti-fascist movement and fought in other countries, as well as those who fought in the Allied armies after July 4, 1941, will also be buried. The decision provides detailed instructions on how the transfer of the mortal remains of fighters will be carried out…” (Mostar Chronicle, 1964, No. 50)

Access this and many other articles about the Partisan Memorial Cemetery here (in BSC).

“The monument construction project initially planned for 810 burial sites, but only 560 remains of fallen fighters were collected, including 8 national heroes. Their remains were placed in concrete chambers measuring 60x40x50 cm, below the grave markers, while the bones from mass graves were placed in a memorial ossuary in a semicircular niche where wreaths are laid.” Source: Commission to Preserve National Monuments (

For the Partisan Memorial… it was necessary to consciously and skillfully integrate and unify: stone, water, greenery, light, and everything that is characteristic of Mostar.

Symbolism of Architecture

While building the necropolis of Mostar, I was carried away by a deep internal fire. I performed the not-so-simple and easy task without nausea or fatigue, and, in fact, captivated by a new understanding of life and death. It may sound absurd, but it was as if I hoped to share something of my secret joy with my “new friends,” whose names – Muslim, Serbian, Croatian – were just starting to line up on the terraces of the necropolis. Their small city of the afterlife, as I promised their families, gazed directly into the heart of old Mostar and the now-destroyed bridge of the supreme master Hajrudin…

The Partisan Necropolis was like a miniature Mostar, a replica of the city on the Neretva River, its ideal diagram. However, this ideogram of the city, this hieroglyph, this stone sign was not of insignificant dimensions. It took on the outlines of some of the more modest, pre-Balkan, Hellenic acropolises.

Entry Door

The monument is constructed of stone, and no other material is noticeable anywhere.
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“To overcome a twenty-something-meter difference in height, one had to walk uphill, along winding, stone serpentines for a good three hundred meters, from the entrance’s lower gate to the fountain at the top (Quelle, Brunnen).” – Bogdan

Water Organ

“As soon as the visitor arrives at the Monument, alongside flowers and stone, they are greeted by water. (At the top of the Monument, water springs forth and reappears at the entrance through the water organs). … Pebbles from the Neretva River, like sagas, cover every path of the Monument.”
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“The path uphill was indicated by water cascading down the melodious organs, welcoming the visitors.”
– Bogdan


The path leading to the platforms with memorial plaques is paved with tens of thousands of pebbles from the Neretva River.

Circular Pool

… at the bottom, seemingly separate from the Monument, there is a large fountain without water jets. The calm green water symbolizes paying tribute to the fallen fighters. From the top of the Monument, from the terraces, looking at the serene water surface, the new Mostar is reflected in the fountain.

When filled with crystal-clear water, it irresistibly resembles the pupil of an eye, which in our language also carries a special meaning (it signifies something extremely dear and cherished).


Inside it, there are also six terraces shaped like roofs…

The connection of the Monument with the surroundings is particularly successful, as it is unclear where the stone ends and nature begins.


The terraces resemble the steep slopes of the Neretva River valley on which the city of Mostar is located.


Gate Partizanskog groblja

Perfectly integrated into the architecture of the region… A large number of stone slabs from old houses in which the fighters lived have been incorporated.

Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“The monument was built slowly, painstakingly, from voluntary contributions, even in-kind contributions (and the ‘in-kind’ was stone), and even from stones taken from old houses in Mostar that time and urban development had largely demolished, and families willingly donated the stone materials. Even that silent relocation of materials, and even the matter of the old city, had symbolic value.”

Fountain in the shape of a four-layered gear

Fountain Partizanskog groblja
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
“The stone, often bearing the age-old traces of smoke or covered in classified moss, with its ‘guardhouses,’ carried particles of memory and the spirit of reverence from one era to another, blending with vast quantities of freshly extracted limestone, white as cheese.”


A gear as a symbol of driving force – water flowed from it, cascading into a round basin at the bottom.


When a visitor starts ascending the first serpentine, they get a sense that in the central part of the Monument, mountain peaks, rugged and steep Herzegovinian cliffs, rise up.


In the shape of a felled tree, a symbol of interrupted youth, or a stone flower, a symbol of new life.

Symbols on stone memorial plaques.
Symbols on stone memorial plaques.

War Flag

The war flag symbolizes the buried fighters – warriors, people who laid down their lives for the free future of their nation.

Circle with a Shield (Cosmos)

Kosmos Partizansko groblje

… at the very top, like an eternal flame, there is a circle with a shield called “cosmos” with symbols of the sun, moon, and stars as the ultimate goal of humanity.

Bogdan Bogdanovic arhitekta Partizansko groblje
“Since I believed at least half-heartedly in the ancient prejudice of the builder-alchemists that limestone is the child of the sun and the moon and that precisely for this reason it is exceptionally favorable, even predestined for carving celestial phenomena, representations of the sun, moon, planets, and constellations were abundantly mixed with stone flowers. Somewhere, there was even a place for the constellation of the Great Dog, which I never managed to find in the sky, and even for a group of stars that doesn’t exist on the celestial carpet, which I imaginatively named ‘The Seven Skinny Cows.’ For the uninformed, they were the Pleiades (Siebengestirn).” – Bogdan

Partizansko Phase II

It is little known that a second phase of development was planned for the Partisan Monument – with a Museum of the Revolution. We are attaching a picture of the model according to Bogdan’s design: “The structure represents the final canvas that completes the entirety of the Partisan Monument in Mostar.”

Source: Partisan Monument in Mostar, IKRO Prva književna komuna, Mostar 1980.

Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
In the end, it turned out that the Partisan necropolis as a whole resembled a large astrological model from which we all, united and in the greatest enthusiasm, read the brightest future.
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
But, as things stand now, I wouldn’t be in the company of my friends there anymore. The plaques with their names were carefully, cold-bloodedly, sadistically collected, taken away, and ground in the stone mill. And all that remains of my original promise is that the former city of the dead and the former city of the living still look at each other, but they look at each other with empty, black, burnt-out eyes. Source
Bogdan Bogdanović, the architect of the Partisan Memorial Cemetery.
The singing, pagan character of the Partisan necropolis could not go unnoticed. Soon, its terraces were conquered by children, whose cheerful voices resounded in the melodious, almost theatrical stone space, sometimes echoing deep into the night. Everything I could still desire, with an open heart, I received, partly in jest and partly in reality, and that is the right, as an honorary citizen of Mostar, to envision a hidden little niche to the left of the entrance gate for my future stone urn…

“This monument, which carries the dead within itself (let us recall the motif of sacrifice in Zidanje Skadra na Bojani, one of the most beautiful and tragic poems in our folk poetry), was, although paradoxical at first glance, bright and joyful when placed in the city space and landscape alongside Mediterranean evergreen low-growing plants such as rosemary, lavender, green and gray cistus, and sage, as if reflecting the entire Herzegovina within itself – the canyon of a restless turquoise-colored mountain river, rugged and steep Herzegovinian cliffs, in other words, stone and water, greenery and light, everything characteristic of Mostar.” Source

What does the Partisan Memorial Cemetery mean to you?

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They were young...

...and young at heart

Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar

Partizansko Groblje Heroji

The right to the beauty of dreams