The Ilinden monument, also known as Makedonium, is one of the most famous and complex monuments in the country. It is a tribute to the Ilinden Uprising against the Turkish rule in 1903, as well as the First Session of ASNOM held in 1944, when the foundation of the free Macedonian were established.
This monument is the embodiment of the centuries-old war and aspiration of the Macedonian people and other communities for a free and independent state. It is located in the beautiful area of Krushevo at an altitude of 1,300 meters, at a location where the Krushevo Republic is considered to have been declared in 1903.
This cultural monument, protected by law, was opened on August 2, 1974, on the 30th anniversary of the First Session of ASNOM and the 71st anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising. The construction process began in 1968, when the Parliamentary Commission was formed, and on May 6, 1970, this conceptual design was selected from a total of eight submitted design works.
The authors of this monumental complex are the married couple Jordan (1925 – 1986) and Iskra Grabuloski (1936 – 2008). Some famous Macedonian painters also took part in designing the complex. Iskra was the daughter of the famous Macedonian post-war politician Boris Spirov. She studied in Skopje where she met Jordan, one of the most famous Macedonian sculptors and a participant in the People’s Liberation War. They have also become great partners in arts. It is interesting to note that while erecting the complex, there was tension between the authors who strived for an abstract and modernist approach, and the panel that favoured traditional and figurative components. An explicit conflict arose over the appearance of the reliefs inside the dome resulting in delay in the construction and at one point communication between Jordan and the panel completely ceased. Some of the authors’ ideas have not been accomplished, such as the construction of a multifunctional amphitheatre under the building and ambient lighting.
The complex covers an area of 12 hectares. It begins with the sculpture “Broken Chains”, which symbolizes freedom. Next is a crypt containing engraved 58 important persons, events and locations related to the Ilinden Uprising. Then follows an open amphitheatre surrounded by colourful mosaics, grand plastic designed by famous Macedonian painter Petar Mazev, right in front of the main building. The complex ends with a famous white dome, 12 meters high, which offers a view of the city of Krushevo and its surroundings.
Approaching the entrance of the dome, pay attention to the entrance door, which has a symbolic shape of the letter “M”. Inside the building there are eight reliefs grouped in two and symbolically dedicated to the key processes in the Macedonian liberation war during the Ilinden Uprising until the end of World War II. Moving from left to right eight scenes are depicted: 1. Fertilization, 2. Embryo, 3. Fight for freedom, 4. The Republic of Krushevo Attacked 5. Macedonia divided, 6. Partisan Fight during the Second world War, 7. Sunrise and 8. Macedonia -“The apple of discord”.
The interior of the dome impresses with its four stained glass windows (the work of the famous Macedonian painter Borko Lazeski), as well as the eternal flame and the sounds of the oratorio “Sun of the Ancient Land” by Toma Proshev. There are four large windows in the building aimed at locations important for the Ilinden Uprising.
Since 1990, here lies the tomb of Nikola Karev, the president of the ten-day Krushevo Republic.
The monument was displayed after the first series of Macedonian denars were released in 1992, in the aftermath of the country’s independence. Architectural Digest magazine listed this building in its 2016 list of seven stunning examples of brutalist architecture, and the Australian magazine Architecture & Design listed it as one of the 10 most unique buildings in the world.