Lychakiv Cemetery, Lviv

Do you like cemeteries? I know it’s a strange question to ask, and yet… do you like cemeteries? I do! For me, it’s a place where I can wander alone in seclucion and think about life and death.. I always try not to disturb dead ones, but, you know, sometimes looking at the photograph of the departed one, I get this feeling I wanna to talk to him.. And we talk.. One of the oldest cemeteries of present day’s Ukraine is the Lychakiv Cemetery, a famous and historic cemetery in Lviv, which since its creation in 1787 has been the main necropolis of the city’s intelligentsia, middle and upper classes..

It was a nice and sunny day in Lviv.. A wonderful day to visit a cemetery.. And so me and my friend Lena, known to you from the Soup Trip Story, took a tram and then had a 5-minutes walk to the Lychkiv cemetery, which is located not too far from the city center.. Passing through the main gates we went to the ticket office and bought tickets, because the cemetery serves as a museum nowadays.. The title of Memorial Museum-Reserve was conferred in 1991.. Entrance fee is 10 Ukrainian hryvnia, less than 1,5 USD.. So once we got our tickets we took one of the paths and walked up the hill along the tombstones and little chapels..

Initially the cemetery was located on several hills in the borough of Lychakiv, following the imperial Austro-Hungarian edict ordering that all cemeteries be moved outside of the city limits.. The original project belonged to Karl Bauer, a university botanist.. Today Lychakiv cemetery covers 105 acres.. Due to the overwhelming popularity of Lychakiv the cemetery limits were expanded several times in 1804, 1808, 1856.. In 1856, Tytus Tchórzewski had rearranged the territory, laid out walks and alleys, transforming the cemetery into a park for those who feel blue or romantic.. Lychakiv cemetery then became the main cemetery of Lviv..

Actually, I wrote the paragraph above and thought how a cemetery can be a romantic place?.. Because I didn’t see anything romantic.. Loneliness, yes.. Sadness.. But a park for romantic couples? Maybe this is a different perspective, a different perception of death.. I don’t know.. But when I looked at abandoned graves I saw loneliness.. I saw them all laying there alone.. Some of the graves were in really poor conditions.. Perhaps none of their relatives is alive now, and maybe they are buried somewhere else.. No one visits them except tourists for whom it is more of an attraction.. “Jeder stirbt für sich allein”, as the German author Hans Fallada would say.. Every man dies alone.. And stays alone after, too, I would say..

The Lychakiv cemetery hosts more than 300K deceased, 2 thousand crypts and almost 500 sculptures, the majority of which are works of art.. The oldest gravestones date back to 1787 and 1797.. Genuine masterpieces can be also found among later crypts.. There are humble tombs, which, however, tell curious stories, like the tomb of Franciszek Zaremba, soldier of Kościuszko’s army who died aged 112..
Today, the cemetery is closed for new funerals.. However, there are some exceptions a crowd of many thousands had paid the last tribute to famous composer Ihor Bilozir by attending his funeral here in 2000..

When I was a teenager, I used to think that the ones who die are actually the ones who live.. And to become alive one had to die first.. And those who are alive are actually dead.. From then, I’ve changed my views many times.. And although death had always been a very interesting topic for me, nowadays I prefer not to speak much about it, as I was advised by the Ifugao people, when I was in the Philippines.. And so now I will finish this blog post and let you watch some more photos from Lychakiv cemetery, located by following link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/harebeat/LychakivCemeteryInLviv

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4 thoughts on “Lychakiv Cemetery, Lviv

  1. Spectacular photographs of a lonely place. I like how you decided to make them black and white. It gives a certain air of mystery about the place.

    I personally do not visit cemeteries (religious reasons), so I don’t find them romantic 😀 I do, however, believe that graves are a reminder that our existence in this world is but a temporary and short affair.

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