Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vienna Cemetery

One interesting stop in Vienna last week was the cemetery, Zentralfriedhof .  Our guide was interested in showing us the showpiece markers, like this one for Beethoven

but I kept hopping out to take pictures of the normal people sections, like this one

It's an interesting cemetery.  Firstly, it's huge; apparently a far-sighted city leader decided that the cemeteries around the city's churches were filling up and somewhat unhygienic, so they extrapolated out the number of residents they would have for the next century and established a cemetery out on the projected outskirts that could handle everyone.  While they were establishing it, they created some zones in the center for luminaries, especially the musicians, and moved their graves to the new cemetery.  There's a marker for Mozart, although the actual location of his body is unknown.  It's much more densely filled than many I visit in the U.S.

And remember the scene in the movie Amadeus where Mozart's body is dumped out of a reusable casket?  The scene gave viewers, particularly Americans, the sense that his was a pauper's funeral.  According to our tour guide, this is wrong -- that same leader had decided that burying nice caskets was wasteful and decreed the use of these reusable ones; it was too radical an idea for the time, so the practice didn't last, but it was used for a while.

For more information about this cemetery, check out Wikipedia or the official website (in German).


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