Necrotourism

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Necrotourism sensibilizes the traveller of the patrimonial and natural worth of a country or a city, the social and cultural function of the commemorative place of those who preceded us, is giving way to a more ludic use.

It is a thing of the past when cemeteries were only places to bury the dead.
The previously clearly defined limits of his funeral functions have been exceeded.
Today necropolis are shown as part of the cultural, artistic and natural heritage of a city.

Walking through the tombs of famous people, pantheons, sculptures, funerary monuments of exquisite execution, can be an original way to remember the history of our country and others.

tumba de jim morrison
Tomb of Jim Morrison at the Père-Lachaise cemetery

The change of perspective is demonstrated by the existence of the European Association of Singular Cemeteries    which was born to support necro tourism in Europe.

 

Necro tourism in Spain

In Monturque, Cordoba ,Spain give good account of it, the days that are carried out in the week of the commemoration of the festivities of all the saints and faithful deceased. in addition to traveling the cemetery of San Rafael that is part of the European Route of Cemeteries, a few days of gastronomical festivities are organized realizing competition of gachas (traditional food  similar to porridges ) and lanterns of melon, typical meals of that time of the year.

In Spain we have begun to offer visits of this type, as you can read on this page of cemeteries in Spain.

 

lola flores almudena madrid
Monument to Lola Flores (famous singer) in Almudena Cemetery, Madrid

Spain has 22 unique cemeteries ( as part of the European Cemeteries Route ) in Madrid, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Asturias, Cantabria, Valencia, Galicia and Andalusia.

Comunidad de Madrid :The Almudena cemetery is the largest in Europe with  five million tombs.It has become a tourist attraction by day and night.It has night visits and thematic walks. If you want information look at this page. https://visitascementerioalmudena.sfmadrid.es/  Only in spanish.

Asturias: The municipal cemetery of La Carriona in Avilés is the most unique in the area. Its origin goes back to the end of the 19th century and it is replete with sculptures of artistic relevance and loaded with allegories.

Cantabria: The Ciriego cemetery, in Santander, is built under the direction of great architects and marble workers of the region. It is a good example of the aesthetics of funerary art of the late nineteenth century.

País Vasco: The cemetery in Bilbao, which houses one of the main funerary art groups in Spain, is a faithful reflection of the golden age of art in the Basque region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In San Sebastian (Basque city) is the cemetery of Polloe, another jewel of funerary architecture.

Cementerio de Bilbao/Bilbo
Bilbao Cemetery

Catalonia:

It is the region with the most unique cemeteries.Nine of which are in this region. One of them is the municipality of Vilanova i la Geltrú , with numerous modernist style tombs. In the cemetery of Sant Sebastià , in Sitges, there are many large pantheons of “indianos” (Spaniards who went to America) and well-known funerary sculptors participated.One more modernist cemetery is the cemetery of Arenys de Mar.

All these necropolis were designed with the influence of the modernist movement in art and architecture.Catalonia had a special predilection for this movement that coincided with an era of abundance and industrialization.

 

Cementerio de Igualada
Igualada Cemetery

Very special examples are also the new cemetery of Igualada and the cemetery of Los Capuchinos, in Mataró. The Igualada cemetery is different from the traditional one, it tries to integrate with the nature that surrounds it.
A translation of the “organic architecture” that transforms it into a park in which the tombs are integrated into the environment.

The Mataró cemetery is located in an old Capuchin convent whose first burials date back to 1817 and in which its majestic pantheons stand out.

cementerio Vilanova la Geltrú
Vilanova i la Geltrú Cemetery

The cemetery of Vilafranca del Penedés, built in 1839 over a monastery of the Capuchin order has notable constructions as well.
In the city of Barcelona there are two singular cemeteries: the Poble Nou cemetery, the first cemetery in the city, and Montjuïc.
Finally, Girona also has the cemetery of Lloret de Mar. It is an example of the sensitivity of the sculptors and architects of the modernist funerary trend.

Valencian Community: The most important is the old cemetery of Elche , built at the beginning of the 19th century. Through its pantheons and buildings is discovered the coexistence of various styles such as neoclassical, neo-Mudejar, neo-Romanesque or neo-Gothic. Due to its subsequent extension, there are even examples of modernist or art deco architecture and sculptures.

 

cementerio de elche
Old cemetery of Elche

Andalusia:Córdoba brings two necropolis to the necro- tourism route.One is the cemetery of Monturque , relevant because it houses Roman cisterns in its subsoil, a work of engineering that can be visited and that remained hidden for more than a thousand years.
The other case is in the same city of Cordoba and is the cemetery of Our Lady of Health.

The neoclassical façade and some eclectic pantheons stand out. In addition, some famous bullfighters such as Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez, “Manolete”, rest in it.

Tumba de Manolete.Cementerio de la Salud
Tomb of Spanish bullfighter Manolete (Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez) in health Cemetery.Cordoba

Finally, you can visit the municipal cemetery of Granada. It forms part of the Alhambra monument and is very close to the entrance to the Nasrid Palaces.

Galicia:With a couple of cemeteries the San Amaro Cemetery , in A Coruña, and the San Froilán Cemetery, in Lugo in represent  Galicia on the route of Europe’s unique cemeteries.
In the case of the San Froilán Cemetery several funerary constructions were moved piece by piece from the old cemetery in Lugo ,to the new one, which gives it great artistic and historical value.

 

Funerary tourism

The need to experience this adventure, to feel this rare mixture of fear and wonder, is related to a growing fascination with the phenomenon of death.

The visit to cemeteries can also be seen as part of the construction of a person’s identity, as a social subject, in a given community. The revaluation of cemeteries is in full boom.

Elements of structure and architecture, tombstones, chapels, monuments, road networks, as well as intentionally planted vegetation, are also part of the landscape of a cemetery.
The human voice in the form of words is present in the epitaphs and that is a separate subject.

Cemetery tourism

The cemetery, as a mirror of the culture in which it was built, offers a wide range of considerations in terms of tangible and intangible heritage (the religiosity of each community, rites and customs), telling us how the issue of burial is resolved in different regions of the world.

Europe’s most famous cemeteries

 

  • The Parisian cemetery of Père-Lachaise
  • Douaumont Ossuary and Cemetery
  • Powazki Cemetery
  • Zentralfriedhof Cemetery
  • Highgate Cemetery  London
  • Staglieno Cemetery Genoa ,Italy
  • Almudena Cemetery  the Largest in Europe

 

The most singular cemetery

The merry cemetery of sapanta/ Sapâna 

Discovered accidentally in 1955 by a French tourist in the village of Sapanta in the north of Romania (Maramures region) is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in that country.

It is a unique necropolis. After crossing the colorful cemetery door, we enter a forest of blue crosses with a small roof over them.

 

 

The crosses are the same size and are decorated with colourful floral, animal or geometric motifs. A true feast of colours.
The wooden tombstones depict scenes from the lives of the dead. We learn from them what profession they had, what weaknesses they had and under what circumstances they left this world.
So we see not only carpenters, drivers, millers, tractor drivers, housewives, but also drunks, gossips, religious devotees, someone who hit the car, someone drowned.
The drawings are made in popular style.
The images are complemented with epitaphs, often ingenious poems about the dead. This is a kind of chronicle of a village carved out of wood.

 

 

The beginnings of the “Merry Cemetery” (in Romanian: Cimitirul Vesel) go back to 1935. At that time, the local artist and carpenter, Stan Ioan Patras, sculpted the first “happy” tombstone.
As the guides say, he did so at the request of a family of the deceased. While observing the first coloured tombstones, some felt that the artist was mocking the funerary tradition.

Today almost everyone in the village wants to be buried under the tombstone “Happy” in the happy cemetery of Romania.
In 1999, the cemetery was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

 

 

Happy Cemetery of Sapanta/ Sapâna
Happy Cemetery of Sapanta/ Sapâna

 

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