Serbian Chapel at Zeitenlik

Zeitenlik (Greek: Ζέιτενλικ, Serbian Cyrillic: Зејтинлик) is an Allied military cemetery in Thessaloniki, Greece. It contains the graves mostly of the Serbian (more than 8000) but also of French, English and Russian soldiers who died in the battles on the Salonika front during World War I. The complex is located on the place where the Main Hospital of the Serbian Army was located during the war.

The name comes from the Turkish word Zeytin which means Olive. It can be translated as Olive plantation. It is located on Langada street, about 1.5 km from the city centre.

The agreement establishing the Allied cemeteries was signed on November 20, 1920, by the Greek Governor-General of Thessaloniki Adosides and the allies Vojvoda Zivojin Misic (Serbia), General Boucher (France), Field Marshal George Francis Milne (England) and Colonel Giamberini (Italy). The Greek government bought the land where the cemetery whould be created (Zejtinliku plateau) and ceded it to the allies usufruct, while maintenance of the cemeteries would be left to their governments.

The project began in 1926, when Savo Mihailović was appointed to head the group that is tasked to collect remains of warriors who lost scattered along a wide area where the battle raged on the Salonika front. They visited over 250 cemeteries to find allied soldier graves and move them to the new cemetery space.

Conceptual solution seems Serbian military cemetery received the same year in the competition, and the work of the architect Aleksandar Vasić, whose idea was elaborated by Nikolaj Krasnov. All materials for the construction of the cemetery came from Serbia, where he was previously and processed. Therefore, the preparations for the start of construction lasted to 1933 because the need to prepare large quantities of trimmed stone for the construction of the mausoleum, chapel and charnel house, and about 2000 marble crosses.

Finishing construction began 1933 under the direction of architect Budimir Hristodulo, a corporal from 1300. Brought to an end at the end of 1936 to 11 November 1936 on Armistice Day in World War II, it was done officially consecrated mausoleum with a chapel and crypt. Greece gave free land to build a complex of 7,000 km˛, and all material and work on building a release from customs duties and taxes.

The building used stone from the Pocket (Momina stone in Serbia) for the development of the mausoleum and crosses, for granite slabs from Kadina Luka near Ljig, and cement from Beočin. Around the Serbian part of the cemetery were planted cypress that are delivered as the young seedlings from Hilandar to create a kind of eternal guard fallen freedom fighters. Mosaic in the chapel of the work known by the Greek artist Voila motives Serbian medieval frescoes.

During the Second World War, the burden of preserving and maintaining the cemetery fell on the guard Đura Mihailović. It is next to all war teen managed to preserve the cemetery and to preserve the Nazi looting of books and relics.

Initiative and the efforts of the Secretariat for the Culture of Serbia have collected funds for the restoration of the cemetery. Papers are derived from 25 September to 22 October 1969, and the next renewal of the vast complex was built in the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the cemetery, and the entrance gate is set iron inscription: Serbian military cemetery.

Cemetery keepers - Mihailović family

Đorđe Mihailović in front of the cenotaph.

The first keeper of the graveyard was Savo Mihailović who was the head of the group that was responsible for exhumation of Serbian soldiers and their move to the area of the future military cemetery. Mihailović, a Serb from Grbalj, collected the bodies of his dead friends and comrades, and then protect and guard the cemetery until his death in 1928. He was living in a house built for him and his family, inside the cemetery proper. After death he joined his comrades, and was buried on Zeitenlik. He was succeeded by his son Đuro Mihajlović, who succeeded in the World War II to preserve the cemetery and the relics from the Nazi robbery. Đuro died in 1961 and was buried along with his father on Zeitenlik.

Today, the keeper, host and guide of Serbian Military Cemetery at Zeitenlik is Đorđe Mihailović, Đuro's son and Savo's grandson, who lives in keepers house with wife and daughter.