Curious Fact of the Week: The Macabre Humor of Romania's Merry Cemetery - Atlas Obscura
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Curious Fact of the Week: The Macabre Humor of Romania’s Merry Cemetery

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Romania’s Merry Cemetery is deceptively named.

True, the wooden crosses of the small cemetery of Săpânţa are vibrantly illustrated with cartoonish depictions of the deceased, but it’s not only the best moments of the departed that are preserved, but the tragic as well. Among the some 800 markers is one of a man named Ion Saulic, a soldier decapitated in World War II by a Hungarian soldier. 

article-imagephotograph by BudapestDundee/Flickr user

You can see what look like guard dogs lined up before the deceased, and then the painted blood dripping from the detached head, all carved by hand onto the wooden cross. Other crosses in the cemetery show car accidents and a drunk with the foreboding skeleton of addiction reaching towards him from down below. 

article-imagephotograph by Janrito Karamazov

However, most are less macabre, with the village professions of shepherds and weavers alongside mothers caring for their children accompanied by irreverent and witty epitaphs, most the work of woodcarver Stan Ioan Pătraş. For example, here’s one of the humorous inscriptions:

Under this heavy cross
Lies my poor mother in-law
Three more days she would have lived
I would lie, and she would read (this cross).
You, who here are passing by
Not to wake her up please try
Cause’ if she comes back home
She’ll criticize me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother-in-law!

The sculptor started carving the memorial markers in 1935 and continued to his own death in 1977 (of course carving his own cross prior to his passing). His legacy has since been continued by his apprentice Dumitru Pop. Visitors continue to journey to the rural wonder to see the crosses, each capturing in rich colors something of the deceased, more than most of the plain granite markers that clutter the cemeteries of much of the rest of the world. 

Below are more photographs of the “Cimitirul Vesel.”

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photograph by Gabi Marian

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photograph by Dan Cristian

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photograph by Adam Jones

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photograph by Adam Jones

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photograph by Remus Pereni

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photograph by Remus Pereni

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photograph by Adam Jones

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photograph by Richard Mortel

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photograph by DaniRadu/Wikimedia

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photograph by Roamata/Wikimedia

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photograph by Adrian Libotean

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photograph by Dan Cristian

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photograph by nrares/Flickr user

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photograph by Remus Pereni

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photograph by Brandon Atkinson

article-imagephotograph by Camil72/Wikimedia

THE MERRY CEMETERY, Sapanta, Romania


Curious Facts of the Week: Helping you build your cocktail party conversation repertoire with a new strange fact every week, and an amazing place to explore its story. See all the Curious Facts here>