Everything was closed on Easter Monday in Warsaw, so we set out to explore the city’s two biggest graveyards: Old Powązki Cemetery and the Okapowa Street Jewish Cemetery. It turned out that the first cemetery was so absolutely huge that we didn’t even get to the Jewish one! Gives us a project for another day.
Powązki Cemetery was established in 1790 and contains the graves of many notable Poles, including members of the royal family. No one knows exactly how many people are buried there, in part because the cemetery’s records were destroyed in World War Two. But estimates run as high as a million burials. The cemetery is well-cared for as befits a national historical monument, and is both interesting and atmospheric as all get-out.
Though not as big a deal as All Soul’s Day, Easter is apparently another occasion when many Poles visit cemeteries to clean up and decorate the graves of their loved ones. To that end, there were dozens of sidewalk flower vendors outside the gates.
While most of the sculptures in the cemetery can’t compare with the marvels of Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, especially after extensive damage in the war, there are some pretty cool monuments to be seen.
Some of the monuments are really creative!
We had a fun ramble around the place, but didn’t even come close to exploring the entire thing. I plan to go back one day, maybe in the late afternoon, to explore further and to take better photos!