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MIRILA – The Mysterious Stones and Monuments of Velebit Mountain

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What’s the story of Mirila, stone monuments scattered all over the mountain of Velebit? It’s the ancient story of the soul leaving the body of the dead.

Monuments of Velebit
Monuments of Velebit

Once upon a time, Velebit used to be a crowded place. Regarding Croatian history, it shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Under the pressure of a siege of some kind – Venetians coming from the sea and Turks empire army from the continent – people ran to the hills to hide. Mountain gave them the rescue and proper living, so they stayed there to live peacefully.
The 20th century brought even more wars. This time, it was not possible to hide in the mountains anymore. So, people left the mountain in search of a better life.

Luckily, many monuments are left to tell us the story of people living on Velebit, if we only learn to search for it.

Of those great monuments are certainly the Mirila – complexes of processed stone artefacts that tell us a lot about funeral traditions in Velebit and spiritual beliefs rooted deep in the mountain life.

Mirila first appeared in the 17th century. Social life had a great dynamic back in those days. Communication was good and people travelled on several occasions during the year.

Not every village had a school, not every village had a doctor, not every village had a church nor a graveyard.
Mirila – The Mysterious Stones of Velebit
Mirila – The Mysterious Stones of Velebit

So, when one died it turned into a highly participated social event.

Why? Because the dead should have been brought to the graveyard to have a decent funeral and the first graveyard was usually miles and miles away. Walking.
So, people gathered to transfer their dead to the graveyard. The procession was not allowed to stop, but only once during the trip, so the carriers could take a rest from the burden and hard terrain.

When they laid the bodies of the dead on the ground, they believed the soul left the body of the deceased right there.

Turns out Mirila were more important than the actual graves because the graves were only the places to put the body in.

The soul left earlier

This custom speaks of the relationship people had with a mountain.

Holy was the moment when the body of the deceased touched the ground, so close was this relationship between men and nature.

Hiking on Velebit

They marked the place with two stones first, one by the feet and the other by the head. Later they’d put the stone panels in between those two and decorated the headstone.

Mirila stayed like that until these days when we have the privilege to once again discover, renew and introduce them to the world.

Your CTC Team, I.K.

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