Monument to the Unknown Hero

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Monument to the Unknown Hero
Monument to the Unknown Hero
For Balkan Wars and World War I heroes
Unveiled 1938 (1938)
Location 44°41′19.3″N 20°30′56.9″E / 44.688694°N 20.515806°E / 44.688694; 20.515806Coordinates: 44°41′19.3″N 20°30′56.9″E / 44.688694°N 20.515806°E / 44.688694; 20.515806
near Belgrade, Serbia
Designed by Ivan Meštrović
Unknown burials 1
Alexander I King of Yugoslavia to the Unknown Hero

The Monument to the Unknown Hero (Serbian: Споменик Незнаном јунаку / Spomenik Neznanom junaku) is a World War I memorial located atop Mount Avala, south-east of Belgrade, Serbia, and designed by the sculptor Ivan Meštrović.[1] Memorial was built in 1934-1938[1] on the place where an unknown Serbian World War I soldier was buried.[1] It is similar to many other tombs of the unknown soldier built by the allies after the war.[1] The Žrnov fortress was previously located on the same place.[1]

History and design[edit]

The monument was built near the place where an earlier monument to the unknown soldier was built in 1922.[1] This earlier monument was built over the tomb of an unknown Serbian soldier who was killed by Austro-Hungarian howitzer in 1915[2] during the Serbian Campaign. When the new memorial complex was finished in 1938, the coffin with the remains of the unknown soldier was moved to the crypt inside the new monument.[3] Before the construction of the new monument started in 1934, the ancient fortified town of Žrnov was located atop the Avala mountain. It was then demolished by dynamite to free the space for the new monument.[4] King Alexander I of Yugoslavia laid the foundation stone for the new monument on 28 June 1934,[5] just few months before he was assassinated in Marseilles.[4]

The tomb of the Unknown Hero inside the monument

The construction of this monument was ordered by King Alexander I of Yugoslavia to commemorate the victims of the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) and the World War I (1914-1918). The monument was designed by Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and the main engineer was Stevan Živanović.[6] Members of the Yugoslav Royal Army and Navy took part in processing and mounting the blocks.[6] The monument is in the form of a sarcophagus[5] made of black granite from Jablanica.[5][6] The sarcophagus in surrounded by caryatids representing all the peoples of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. They represent Bosnian, Montenegrin, Dalmatian, Croatian, Slovenian, Vojvodina’s, Serbian and Old Serbian women.[3] The top of the sarcophagus is marked with an inscription reading "Alexander I King of Yugoslavia to the Unknown Hero".[6] The monument is 14.5 metres (48 ft) high, and 36 metres (118 ft) in length, while the stairs from the approaching side are 93 metres (305 ft) long.[3] The tomb with the remains of the unknown hero is located in the crypt (underground room) in the base of the monument.[3] The tomb is marked only by the date "1912-1918", the duration of the Balkan Wars and World War I.

The surrounding area around the monument was landscaped in 2006.[1][5]

The Monument to the Unknown Hero was declared Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance in 1987, and it is protected by Republic of Serbia.[1]

Identity speculation[edit]

Several prominent historians from Belgrade and Sarajevo have claimed that the unknown hero is a Bosniak named Sulejman Balić, a soldier from Duga Poljana, a town between Novi Pazar and Sjenica, that fought in the Serbian army against Austria-Hungary.[7]


The monument is used for the official commemorations of the important historic dates. The President, Prime Minister and other officials visit the monument for the wreath-laying ceremony on dates like the Serbian National Day (15 February),[8] Victory Day (9 May),[9] and 15 September, the date when the Salonika front was broken through in 1918.

See also[edit]


External sources[edit]