The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Transylvania, Romania
> People in Sapanta think that death is not a reason to mourn.
> The last remainings of an ancient local culture that believed death is a reason to celebrate.
> Over 800 crosses painted in happy colors and their funny epitaphs.
The Merry Cemetery ("Cimitirul Vesel" in Romanian) is famous for its colourful tombstones with naive paintings, describing in an original and poetic manner the persons that are buried there, as well as scenes from their lives. The Merry Cemetery became an open-air museum and a national tourist attraction.
The unusual feature of this cemetery is that it completely diverges from the prevalent belief shared by European societies, that death is something indelibly solemn. Connections with the old pre-Christian local Dacian culture have been made, a Zamolxian religion who thought that the the soul is immortal so death should a moment filled with joy and anticipation for a better life.
The cemetery's origins are linked with the name of Stan Ioan Patras, a local artist who sculpted the first tombstone crosses. In 1935, Pătraş carved the first epitaph and, as of 1960s, more than 800 of such oak wood crosses came into sight. The inscription on his own tombstone cross says:
"Since I was a little boy
I was known as Stan Ioan Patras
Listen to me, fellows
There are no lies in what I am going to say
All along my life
I meant no harm to anyone
But did good as much as I could
To anyone who asked
Oh, my poor World
Because It was hard living in it"
An inscription for another member of the community said:
"I will tell you a good one
I kind of liked the plum tzuica
With my friends at the pub
I used to forget what I came for"