August 27, 2011

Zeitenlik Serbian Cemetery in Thessaloniki

The allied military cemetery Zeitenlik (Зејтинлик) is where the graves of the soldiers who died on the Salonika front in WW1 are, it's near the center of Thessaloniki on a former Olive plantation on Langada Street.
On the way from the Greek Seaside back to Serbia we stopped by, to see the Serbian Cemetery (in the near there are also the French, English, Italian and Russian Cemeteries). The Greek Government bought the land where the cemeteries would be located and ceded it to the allies usufruct, while the maintenance of the cemeteries would be left to the single governments of the countries. Greece gave the land for free released all materials and work from customs duties and taxes.
For the Serbian cemetery it was Savo Mihailović who (in 1926), collected remains of Serbian warriors (scattered along the Salonika front area) moved them to the new cemetery space and was the guardian until he died in 1928.
A concept was made, the building elements (made from a stone from "Momin Kamen" a stone pit near Vladicin Han) were brought from Serbia. The granite slabs were brought from Kadina Luka and the concrete from Beocin.
The pieces for the mausoleum and about 2'000 stone crosses were made, and to trim so much stone it took until 1933. Cypresses (seeding from Hilandar) were planted all over to act as "eternal guards to the fallen freedom fighters".
The mosaics on the chapel were made by a Greek artist inspirited by Serbian medieval frescoes. The actual building time was from 1933 until 1936, when November 11 the mausoleum with chapel and krypt were officially consecrated.
After Savo Mihailovic's death in 1928 it was his son Djuro Mihailovic that took care of the cemetery during the WW2 and protected the relics from Nazi robberies. When he died in 1961 he was burried next to his father in Zeitenlik.
Today it's Djuro's son Djordje Mihailovic that is taking care of this sacred place. Like his granddad and father he lives in the the keeper's house inside the cemetery where he always lived with his Greek wife and a daughter.
The daughter got now married herself and since there are no male descendants it's a bit of a question who will take care of the facility in the future.
Djordje Mihailovic is very friendly and takes interested people (and lots of school classes) to the krypt under the mausoleum and shows all the memorabilia and explains how the 5'580 graves under the chapel are organized.
Further 1'440 graves are outside marked by a stone cross and the there are 2 common graves one for the 78 nameless soldiers fallen on the Salonika Front and the other for the 217 nameless soldiers fallen in Tsargrad (today Istanbul).

The rest of the pictures are on my Flickr Collection here.

Unfortunately we didn't have much time for visiting Thessaloniki this time. But my friend MsLarsen visited the city earlier this year and made fantastic pictures and I'd like to share them here:

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  1. Hvala Lina!

    For my readers: Lina and I have an Italian Balkan Blog...and our friend Zeljko made a post about this cemetery in italian:

  2. Hej Draga!
    it's always really interesting post reading your posts especially this one about Зејтинлик in Thessaloniki!!! Very beautiful the shot of Djordje Mihailovic (I think he's the man!).
    Last but not least: thank you so much for mentioning me :-)!!!