The Merriest Cemetery in the World: Sapanta

Death is a gruesome fact in our culture. It’s a solemn thing, accompanied by sadness, grief and grayness. But along came Stan Ioan Patras, a Maramures native wood sculptor, and had a pretty unique vision. He wanted to celebrate the departed instead of crying after them, and came up with an idea which would change the local’s conception of death forever.

Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Maramures

When he was only 27, Stan Ioan started to carve ironic and often funny poems into the tombstones of the dead, using the old, archaic local language. At the beginning he made merely 10 such tombstones a year, using oak as the base wood. After a while, he began perfecting his skills, made the tombstones much narrower and started painting human figures on them. Until his death in 1977, Stan Ioan Patras carved 700 unique tombstones for the cemetery of Sapanta, a place which today is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the beautiful region of Maramures.

Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Maramures

The iconic merry cemetery is located in a small town close to the Romanian-Ukrainian border. I was actually pretty excited to visit the cemetery, as I’ve read about it in all of the Romanian guidebooks and heard about it from friends. The region itself is amazingly beautiful (will show it to you in a separate, more detailed post) and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the rural, untouched countryside of Romania.

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

The cemetery itself is pretty crowded, and I’ve got to admit my first reaction when I got there was that I started to read through the tombstones. After I’ve read about 20 different ones, which I could barely understand because of the archaic language, I looked up to realize that I had about 700 others to read through and gave up on finding out each and every tale.

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The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

But even if you don’t read through all the tombstones, you can still appreciate them. And even if you don’t understand a word of Romanian, you can still look at the paintings which often speak for themselves!

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

Practical Info:

Schedule: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00

Price: 2 Ron – Children / 5 Ron – Adults / Foto Tax: 5 Ron / Video Tax: 10 Ron

Where: Sapanta commune, Maramures county.

Good to Know: The place is generally crowded with tourists, so you don’t have to worry about not finding the place. If in doubt, ask a local and they’ll surely point you in the right direction, even if they don’t know a word in Romanian!

The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

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