Surfing the internet in search of information about Podgorica, I found an interesting article on the CDM Portal about forgotten monuments. That was the reason why I tried to discover more about this topic. As most of these sculptures are located in the city center, they should not be neglected, as they can contribute to the tourist significance of Podgorica.
By the way, I found one forgotten monument out of town: the monumental complex of Barutana, a local community 10 km from Podgorica, which is in a disastrous state, totally dilapidated and covered with litter… And I was shocked. This war monument that is also mentioned by the well-known site ‘Spomenik Database’ (www.spomenikdatabase.org) deserves a better fate than this!
But let’s start with the sculptures and monuments in the central part of the city:
- ‘Bird of Peace’
On a traffic island between the Palada building and the police station, close to the Millennium bridge, you can find this work made by Lada Perović. It recalls the bloody wars of the 1990s in the Balkans. The ‘Bird of Peace’ is indeed roughly bird-shaped – but what makes it so remarkable is the fact that the statue and the benches around it are built from redundant weapons: old rusty machine guns, pistols and rifles welded together (see photo 1).
This memorial, simply called ‘Bomba’ by the locals, was erected in 1994. It actually shows a stylized black bomb suspended by four steel rods forming an open-sided pyramid. The structure that hangs in the neglected and drab courtyard of the SDK building, on the corner of Miljana Vukova and Marka Miljanova – only ten meters from the central Independence Square – was one of the bombs that were found when the foundations of numerous dwelling buildings were built after WWII. Nobody seems to care about the maintenance of this important memorial – what a pity!!
By the way, did you know that Podgorica suffered around 80 bombings during WWII, in which around 2000 people were killed? Only on one day, May 5th 1944, the allied airplanes dropped about 600 bombs on Podgorica; 600 people died, several hundreds of them were wounded. Until today it has never been clarified why this happened, as Podgorica had only 16,000 inhabitants in those times and it hardly had any strategic importance.
- ‘Woman in Motion’
It is not easy to discover this relief on the façade of the central Post Office in Podgorica, as it is mostly hidden by the shade of a big magnolia tree. It is a work of Vujadin Popović, the famous architect who once – after WWII – designed the central Lenin Boulevard, now called Bulevar Svetog Petra Cetinjskog. He didn’t only plan the construction of the boulevard; he also designed the Post Office on the corner of Sloboda street and the opposite hotel ‘Crna Gora’ (now Hilton).
Unfortunately, the beauty of this female bas relief in Art Deco style is obviously underestimated. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to restore the relief and, possibly, to illuminate it at night? (Photo by Paul McClure).
- ‘Icarus’ and ‘Dance’
The sculptures ‘Icarus’ and ‘Dance’ made by Branko Kovačević in 1997, can be found in the Mitra Bakića street, behind the central bus station. The rusty sculptures, one of them spoiled by graffiti, are hidden by trees and grass.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information about the author and the reason why these two statues were placed just here, on a corner where hardly anybody could see them.
- War Monument in Barutana
Driving from Podgorica to Cetinje, you will see a yellow signpost to Barutana after around 10 km. Turn left and follow the dirt road in front of the abandoned municipal buildings for 300-400 m to the monumental park. Can you believe that this monument to the fallen of Lješanska Nahija (inaugurated in 1980) was designed by the famous Montenegrin female architect Svetlana Kana Radević, the creator of the Podgorica Hotel on the bank of the Morača river?
The monumental complex consists of a 12 m high open tower and an amphitheatre, and along the path there are three smaller memorials dedicated to victims of the First Balkan War, WWI and WWII. Several decades ago, it must have been an impressive monument. And now? Everything is covered with rubbish and overgrown by vegetation. The concrete is chipping and the stone-paved stairs are falling apart. There is no lighting, the gravel road is bumpy, there are no information boards. Since Barutana’s elementary school was closed due to depopulation of the village, the maintenance of the complex stopped (this was the task of the local school children).
I don’t know who is responsible for this monument in Barutana, but one thing is sure: it is a pity that this monument has been forgotten and neglected.
And finally, there are some sculptures that have disappeared from the streets of Podgorica in 2015, but I – and many other citizens and visitors of Podgorica – have NOT forgotten them: the Transformers!
Some words about their history: In 2014, an environmental exhibition of sculptures made by Danilo Baletić (22) was set up in Podgorica. It was called: ‘Transformers Defending Podgorica’. Danilo created seven huge and realistic sculptures of Transformers, using scrap metal out of the scrap yard owned by his father. With the exhibition, he wanted to catch people’s attention and send a message that waste can be ‘transformed’ and used for better purposes.
So, what happened to the Transformers? Unfortunately, in 2015, by order of the Municipality, the Transformers had to leave Podgorica. I must say that I deeply regret this decision, as these sculptures have contributed a lot to the tourist image of Podgorica.
The blog post I wrote about the Transformers in 2014 has been read by almost 3,000 people so far. I got many positive comments, in particularly from foreign tourists. So, where are the Transformers now? Are they ‘alive’? I wonder if there would be a possibility to get them back!?