By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
A newly unveiled complex of statues dedicated to unknown Macedonian heroes is the latest addition to the massive government sponsored revamp of the capital known as Skopje 2014.
The massive marble and bronze complex placed in a park opposite parliament has already attracted many onlookers, although the official opening ceremony is not till September 8, Macedonian Independence Day.
The complex consists of three segments, the first representing the world of the living, the second forming a symbolic passage, and the third symbolizing eternity and the world of the gods.
The first segment is conceived as an agora – a central meeting place dominated by a fountain and a bronze statue of Prometheus, the mythological hero who brought fire to the people, suffering punishment from the gods in consequence.
According to the author’s concept, Prometheus therefore symbolizes heroic sacrifice.
The second part is a symbolic doorway to eternity. On top, four bronze horses salute the heroes. The Latin words for immortality, freedom and justice are inscribed on the doorway.
The third segment is a colonnade of marble pillars around a central pedestal that is over 20 meters high. A winged goddess symbolizing victory rests on top of the tall pedestal, while in front is a place for an eternal flame.
The construction of the latest addition to the Skopje 2014 project did not go without controversy.
In May, the municipal authorities suddenly arranged for the statue of the naked Prometheus to be covered, following complaints from unidentified “women’s organizations”.
A bronze loin cloth was soon welded to the statue’s private parts, prompting ridicule and talk of hypocrisy.
Looking at the complex close up, local linguists have meanwhile noticed that the word for justice is misspelled “Justicia” instead of “Justitia”.
So far the authorities have not revealed the price tag of the project,or commented on the spelling error.
The monument forms part of the government-funded “Skopje 2014” project aimed at beautifying the Macedonian capital.
While the centre-right government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has staunchly defended the expensive overhaul, which mainly draws inspiration from the styles of antiquity, opposition parties have criticised the cost of the project at a time of economic crisis.