The famous Merry Cemetery in Săpânța, Maramureș is one of a kind in the world. Its funny tomb stones represent the funny side of Romanians and especially the people in the Maramureș region, in Northern Romania. For many years it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Romania and for good reason: it literally laughs in the face of death. It’s not often that you leave a cemetery laughing.
This cemetery is famous for a few unique things such as the lively coloured wooden crosses, each with a poem or short story characterising the dead man’s life usually on a very funny note. They also have a small painted picture characterising the dead person.
Here’s one of the most famous poems (you can see the cross in the first picture below):
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 criticise me more.
But I will surely behave
So she’ll not return from grave.
Stay here, my dear mother in-law!
“The founder” (and one of the beneficiaries) of the cemetery is Stan Ioan Pătraș, who in 1935 crafted the first cross with a wider vertical part so that enough space will remain for the now famous epitaphs. So the oldest funny cross here dates back from 1935 and since 1960 the tradition began and 800 crosses now lay in the Săpânța Merry Cemetery. It’s a place where, contrary to popular belief, you leave with a smile on your face rather than with sadness in your heart. Of course, you’re alive and you can afford it 😀