Best time to visit Romania

Merry Cemetery in Romania

This cemetery with sometimes shocking paintings on the headstones celebrates life instead of mourning death

Best time: April–October

Merry Cemetery
Merry Cemetery
Merry Cemetery
Merry Cemetery
Merry Cemetery

If all people treated death as positively as the residents of Romanian village Săpânţa bordering with Ukraine, the world would be a better place to live in. At least there would be less mourning at burial ceremonies.

Multicoloured headstones with crosses depict some vital moments of the buried. Some of the pictures are not as funny, but somewhat shocking as they show how the person died. If the dead had been alive, they surely would have enjoyed you smiling, rather than crying over them.

Locals realized it back in 1935 when they started painting funny and amusing images on the graves of the so-called Merry Cemetery. Instead of grieving again and again as you come to visit your ancestors, you might smile and focus on good memories of them. The cemetery is available year-round, yet weather conditions are more favourable between April and October.

Dumitru Pop is a local craftsman who curves the grave slabs out of oak trees. He has been doing it since 1977 when the original author of the carved poems died. He created a gallery in a living room of Mr. Stan's old house that features carvings and polychrome pinups of folk musicians. There were also portraits of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania's brutal Communist dictator, and his equally wife Elena, but due to political reasons Mr. Pop had to lock them away until better times in Romanian political environment come.

Practical info

Can you visit the Merry Cemetery throughout the year?

Yes, the Merry Cemetery is open year-round, with the recommended time to visit between April and October when weather conditions are optimal. The off-season is a great option for quieter visits. During the winter season, the snow creates a picturesque view around the cemetery offering a sight of colorful graves and lush greenery. Show more

Who is responsible for the creation of the grave slabs in the Merry Cemetery?

Dumitru Pop, a skilled craftsman, has chiseled grave slabs out of oak trees since 1977, creating exceptional examples of Romania's folk art and culture. He continues to carve slabs, provide insight into the Merry Cemetery's history and exceptional beauty, and offer tours. Pop is responsible for creating the grave slabs in the Merry Cemetery which has made him famous in Săpânța. Show more

When is the best season to visit the village of Săpânţa?

Săpânța gains recognition as the tourist destination of the Merry Cemetery, and is best to visit from September to November, when the weather is milder and foliage turns gold. The peak time to visit is during the summer season from June to August, while in the fall season, visitors enjoy colorful views of the cemetery, the countryside, and other offbeat tourist attractions, such as the Săpânța Peri Monastery. Show more

Is there any political connection to the Merry Cemetery?

The founder of the Merry Cemetery, Stan Ioan Pătraș, strongly opposed the communist government and utilized the cemetery to send messages of freedom to the Romanian public. One of the colorful grave markers depicts former Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena. However, due to political reasons, the marker was removed until better times arrive in Romanian politics. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin