Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Merry Cemetery

Cemeteries are often sad places, but they can also be amusing and entertaining. S?pân?a, in Northern Romania, is worldwide famous for its Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. What is so unusual about this cemetery? Well, to begin with, the atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by hand in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow. The tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these persons passed away:

Under this heavy cross

Lies my poor mother in law.

If she had lived three more days,

I would be lying here and she would be reading.

Burn in hell, you damn taxi

That came from Sibiu!

As large as Romania is,

You couldn’t find another place to stop,

But in front of my house to kill me?

Spâna is a unique cemetery and a major touristic attraction. The man behind this concept is Romanian craftsman Ioan Stan Patras, who started sculpting the crosses in 1935. The ancient culture of the Dacians, the Romanian’s ancestors, viewed death as liberation and the soul as immortal. Spâna preserves this positive attitude towards death and welcomes it with a smile.

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