Wednesday, February 22, 2017
   
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Polish Cemeteries: History, Styles and Regional Differences

Polish cemeteries are unique. I did not see such a rich variety of graves' styles and care for the graves by alive family members anywhere else in the world. This is partly due to the fact that Poles are Roman Catholic. For Roman Catholics the death is important part of human existence. The death does not end human life since we all have eternal spirit. Y We all will meet there, on the other side. Poles also have a tendency to remember past, history, not to live in the present time like people in other cultures. For a long time Catholic Church was very skeptical towards burning bodies, crematoria are still rare in Poland. Therefore the graves are large, since each person need to be buried in a coffin which is of the size of a human body.

People are buried in a single graves, in marriage graves or in the family graves or crypts. The cemeteries are divided into the community cemeteries, which include people of different beliefs and non-believers and in the parish cemeteries. The religious cemeteries are not all Roman Catholic, Lutheran churches have their own Lutheran cemeteries, Orthodox churches have Orthodox cemeteries. There are several Jewish cemeteries, in Krakow at least three. There are also military cemeteries.

There are regional differences in the outlook of the cemeteries. Polish highlanders are very skilled in wood carving, you can see it on the old Zakopane cemetery - to the right, the complex sculptures are done from wood. Read about Polish Mountaineers - Folk Costumes, Tradition and History .

There are several old and historical cemeteries in Poland. These cemeteries have a unique atmosphere since there are filled with old trees or bushes. They contain historical graves from different epochs built in different styles.

Two most famous old cemeteries are Powazki cemetery in Warsaw and Rakowice cemetery in Krakow. But there are much more. I personally always liked a Salwator cemetery. Check here information (in Polish) and beautiful photographs of the main cemeteries in Krakow and in Warsaw.

Rakowice cemetery is a main necropolis in Krakow. It is situated almost in the center of the town. It was open in 1803 and it replaced several church cemeteries of the downtown. Its size was increase several times in XIX and XX century to the current area of 52 hectares. It also encompasses a military cemetery.

Salwator cemetery is situated in a beautiful part of Krakow, on the hill. The road to the Salwator is a beautiful old alley uphill surrounded by old trees, leads from the monastery of St. Norbert nuns, through the old St. Salwador chapel near the St. Bronislawa hill with a beautiful panorama to Krakow downtown and to the nearby Salwator district, one of the nicest districts of our town.

Another old cemetery situated above the banks of Wisla river is a Tyniec cemetery, next to the old Tyniec Benedictines monastery from XI century. My mother is buried here. Below is her grave from red sandstone (left) and the general outlook to the Tyniec cemetery. One can see many candles and flowers, in spite of the fact that the photographs was done in summer, not even close to All Saints' holiday celebration.

red sandstone grave Tyniec cemetery

The most famous cemetery of Warsaw is Powazki necropolis. Powazki necropolis consists of a whole complex of cemeteries. It has an old part with tombs of many famous and important people for Polish culture and so called "Avenue of the Meritorious". It also contains a military cemetery with large number of those involved in the Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis during World War II, the Battle of Warsaw, and the September Campaign.

 

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