I’ve written about Rijeka in a previous post. A big, industrial, antifascist, working-class city on the Croatian coast… that you don’t really hear about. A Detroit of the Yugoslav shipbuilding industry, the European capital of culture 2020.
Today we’re climbing up the Rijeka hills (actually, we took the bus) to see the area around the historic fortress of Trsat. It’s a great place to have a coffee with a view of the city and Adriatic coast, but don’t think that’s it.
Take a walk around and you’ll see a huge, flat, green area on the hill – that’s a famous shrine (The Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat), and whether you’re a Christian or a person of faith or not, it’s still a nice and peaceful oasis outside of the city mess.
Hidden gem of Rijeka: Park of Heroes
Continue walking through the yard of the church and when you exit, you’ll see one more park called The park of heroes. One might assume that their close position has something to do with the Liberation theology but it doesn’t ;)
Anyway, the park is dedicated to fallen heroes in World War II, partisans who fought the Nazis, and puppet Nazi army. I find brutalism and socialist monuments to be an amazing tribute to our grand grandparents but let’s be honest. Neither of them can offer such an ambient as the peaceful Mediterranean cemetery.
Under the shadows of pines and cypresses, between green and blue shades, you can see a massive, white memorial ossuary, dedicated to the fighters in a war for liberation.
Barely visible due to its (also) white color, stand the verses of a song „Our freedom“, written by the anti-fascist fighter and a poet, Ivan Goran Kovačić who died in WW2. I can’t translate it without butchering it, so let’s just say:
He’s addressing the Freedom and telling it’s okay if it’s crawling at the moment, and can not fly freely. But one day, he says, it will fly above their dead bodies (he is aware of their fate) and revenge Death with (new) Life.
Just as we were about to go, beaten up by the strong sun, a stray cat caught our attention and we followed it down the path. The cat brought us in front of the ossuary door! Inside, you can see the names of, mostly young, people who fought in WW2.
It’s clear that locals take care of the place because we saw fresh flowers and some candles that didn’t look too shabby. One piece of the wall remained empty from names, but the verses of another song were written. It goes something like this (again, sorry for butchering but I hope you’ll get it):
We have fallen for something, to be given to you forever. For the flame to be carried on by each new generation. Yet, we’re not silent. But we said what we meant, to be clear forever…