Sacrario militare di Redipuglia

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Sacrario militare di Redipuglia
Sacrario redipuglia.jpg
For Italian soldiers killed in the battles of the Isonzo in World War I
Unveiled 18 September 1938 (inaugurated)
Location 45°51′08″N 13°29′27″E / 45.8521°N 13.4908°E / 45.8521; 13.4908Coordinates: 45°51′08″N 13°29′27″E / 45.8521°N 13.4908°E / 45.8521; 13.4908
Designed by Giovanni Greppi

The Sacrario militare di Redipuglia (Redipuglia War Memorial) is a World War I memorial located on the Karst Plateau near the village of Fogliano Redipuglia, in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy. It is the largest war memorial in Italy and one of the largest in the world, housing the remains of 100,187 Italian soldiers killed between 1915 and 1917 in the eleven battles fought on the Karst and Isonzo front.[1]

The memorial[edit]

The shrine was built between 1935 and 1938 on Mount Sei Busi, one of the many rocky hills of the Karst Plateau whose possession was bitterly contested during the early battles of the Isonzo (Mount Sei Busi was assaulted by the Italian Army during the First and Second Battle of the Isonzo, and finally captured during the Fourth Battle of the Isonzo). It was designed by architect Giovanni Greppi and solemnly inaugurated on 18 September 1938 in the presence of Benito Mussolini and over 50,000 soldiers who had fought on the Isonzo front in World War I. The Colle di Sant'Elia (St. Elias Hill), a hill located in front of Mount Sei Busi, was already the site of the war cemetery of the Italian Third Army, that had fought on this sector of the front from 1915 to 1917 (the cemetery contained the remains of over 30,000 fallen, that were transferred to the newly built war memorial).[2][3][4][5][6]

The shrine, built on the side of the hill, consists of 22 steps of stone, hosting the remains of 39,857 identified soldiers, arranged in alphabetic order. Above the last step, a votive chapel is lined by two large mass burials that contains the remains of 60,330 unknown soldiers. The chapel and two adjacent rooms contain personal items that belonged to Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers. At the base of the memorial, seven sepulchres contain the remains of Prince Emanuele Filiberto, Duke of Aosta (the commander of the Third Army, who died in 1931 and asked to be buried among his men) and six generals killed in action. In front of the monument, the Via Eroica ("Heroic Path") is flanked by 38 bronze sheet that carry the names of 38 locations of the Karst plateau where the fighting was bloodiest. The fallen buried in the memorial, besides tens of thousands of Army soldiers, include 56 members of the Guardia di Finanza, 72 sailors (the crews of the submarines Medusa and Jalea, sunk in the Adriatic Sea in 1915 and salvaged in the 1950s), and one single woman, Margherita Kaiser Parodi Orlando, a volunteer nurse that died in 1918 while assisting soldiers sick with Spanish flu.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

St. Elias Hill, in front of Mount Sei Busi, formerly the site of the war cemetery of the Third Army, has been turned into a "Remembrance Park" (Parco della Rimembranza), with memorial stones dedicated to the various branches of the Italian Army and the Italian Armed Forces, and to everyday objects of the soldier (from mess kits to pincers), as well as a display of Italian and Austro-Hungarian artillery pieces. A museum with war relics, reconstructions and panels about the history of the Third Army and the battles of the Isonzo is located between Mount Sei Busi and St. Elias Hill.[13][14][15][16][17]

Italy’s fallen in World War I are commemorated at Redipuglia on 4 November of every year, by the President of the Italian Senate.