The Merry Cemetery

by K-Dean
tombstones at the Merry Cemetery in Romania

The Merry Cemetery is now a worldwide tourist attraction.

The Merry Cemetery in the village of Sapanta, Romania is famous for its bright, colorful and very honest tombstones. There are over 600 wooden crosses in the cemetery that bear the life stories and even the dirty details of the deceased. Most of us are used to seeing tombstones, with a name, date of birth and death and a “Rest In Peace” wish. In the Merry Cemetery you can expect to see clever limericks and stories of anyone who has ever died in the village of Sapanta.

The creator behind these tombstones is Stan Ioan Patras – born in Sapanta in 1908, Patras began carving crosses for the cemetery at the age of 14. By 1935, Patras decided to start carving clever or ironic poems about the deceased, as well as painting the images of the deceased in the particular way they died. Patras painted with certain colors, in order to represent different meanings – green represented life, yellow represented fertility, red stood for passion and black for death. All the paintings had a blue background which represented hope, freedom and the sky. A white dove represented the soul, and a black bird meant a tragic or suspicious death.

One of the more popular tombstones was for a man named Ion Toaderu, he was known as the town drunk. His tombstone reads, “Ioan Toaderu loved horses. One more thing he loved very much. To sit at a table in a bar. Next to someone else’s wife.” The epitaph reads “real poison” while the painting depicts a black skeleton dragging him down as he drinks from a bottle.

Patras died in 1977, and left his house and work to his most talented apprentice, Dumitru Pop. Pop has since taken over the business and continues carving the cemetery’s crosses.

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Merry Cemetery

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