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On August 30th a wildfire occurred on a poorly inhabited Kornat Island in Croatia so the firemen from the mainland set out to extinguish it. For the thirteen of them the destiny wasn’t in their hands, the fire overwhelmed them. Six of them died on the island that very day, six of them later in hospitals in Zagreb and Split and one of them managed to survive the heavy injuries.
The memorial project
Arrival at the island, leaving the ship, the beginning of the wall. It shows us the way to the place of memory. Dry stone wall, because it is an architectonic marking element comprehensible to everyone in the rocky landscapes of Kornat and other Adriatic islands. Comprehensible also as a symbol of the effort required to build it. It is neither complicated nor expensive; it just requires a lot of hard work and sweat. It uses the material from its natural surrounding and becomes a part of it. All other Kornat walls look alike; this one is unique as is his genesis.
The wall and the path climb up the hill. The route follows the logic of the terrain. The height of the wall for the most of its length lets a man look over it, towards the garden he is heading to, towards the limestone surrounding, the islands, and the sea.
Step by step we approach the garden. It is enclosed in a way an arboretum or a cemetery is. The cypresses grow in the soil brought from all over Croatia. They peek over the wall to mark a place of peace the same way it had been done for centuries in these rocky landscapes. Peace in the shade of cypresses, protected by the wall that prevents wind from blowing away the soil.
Places where the firemen passed away are marked. Families have a place to rest, to place a wreath, light a candle.
The path slowly takes us to each of those places. Each of them is a small garden within the big garden enclosed by the wall. Six linked shelters.
The seventh shelter is the chapel. There you can place a wreath or light a candle for the ones that died elsewhere or for all of them together. The wall of the chapel has twelve openings. They represent vulnerability. In the chapel a mass takes place, people rest for a while, look at the calming open sea and then head to towards the shore, to the boat.
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