About Serbian Monument to the Unknown Hero
The Serbian Monument to the Unknown Hero (Spomenik Neznanom junaku) was built in memory of the victims of World War One as well as the Balkan Wars. It is located on the former site of the medieval Zrnov fortress.
Monument to the Unknown Hero History
It is believed that the first outpost on top of the mountain was built by the Celtic tribe of Scordisci around the 3rd century BCE. Later, the Romans built a fortified outpost, likely on the foundations of the earlier Celtic one. The Ottomans conquered the fort several times in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is estimated that the fort was eventually abandoned in the 18th century. The remains of the original fortifications were demolished by dynamite in 1934 to clear the site for the construction of the new monument.
The unknown hero who was originally buried at the top of the Avala mountain is believed to have been killed by Austrian howitzer missiles in 1915. For several years after the war, only a wooden cross marked the grave. In 1921, momentum built to construct a more dignified commemorative mark, as members of the Allied Forces began erecting monuments across Europe. The national exhumation committee put together in 1923 learned more about the figure but was ultimately unable to confirm his identity.
The soldier was recognised to be a young male wearing standard military clothing. Possessions on his person included a wallet with coins and a piece of paper that was barely recognisable. Some concluded this paper to be a personal letter whilst others suspected that it was a banknote.
After some earlier iterations marking the space, the sarcophagus monument was commissioned by King Alexander I, sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic and unveiled on the 28 June 1938. In 1987, it was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance and it is protected by the Republic of Serbia. The area around the monument was landscaped in 2006.
Monument to the Unknown Hero today
Just outside of Belgrade, this monument serves as a reminder of the mass casualties the Serbian people suffered during World War One and the Balkan wars. The surrounding area has lush parkland. Nearby is Avala Tower, one of the tallest structures in Serbia, with beautiful views from the observation deck.
Getting to the Monument to the Unknown Hero
The mountain is accessible by public transport with several bus links to the nearest bus stop, Avala. It should take around 45 minutes to drive from Belgrade and there is a car park at the base of the mountain.