Stage 3: The ‘Merry Cemetery’ of Săpdânța, Romania

It is a theme that has accompanied us since the beginning of the journey: The transformation of the itinerary. Detours are more the rule than the exception during our road trip. The exciting and beautiful part are the surprises. On our route to the Sighet Memorial, a Romanian wedding party blocks our way as they parade through their village in the Carpathian Mountains with music and company. Elsewhere, a long procession celebrating the Assumption of Mary – a central holiday in Romania – comes out of a church with an icon. 

In yet another place, we come upon a large festival unplanned and are drawn by the singing from a colorful church and a cemetery that seems strange at first glance. The Cimitirul Vesel, the ‘Merry Cemetery’ of Săpânța, is a unique place. On each of the artistically designed crosses there is an ironic obituary of the deceased. The tradition dates back to artist Stan Ioan Pătraș, whose own tombstone reads, “Since the age of 14, I had to earn money. From 62 countries they have visited me until yesterday, but whoever comes now will not find me.”

Text: Tobias Schwessinger

Photos: Christian Faludi