One place that Richie and I usually visit when traveling is the local cemetery. It may seem morbid, but cemeteries are a wonderful way to learn a little bit of history and culture of the city. It’s fascinating to see how tombs are decorated – in some places with photos, epitaphs, and abundant flowers; in others simplicity reigns, with merely a name and a date. And most cemeteries have high walls surrounding them and lush greenery inside, so a leisurely stroll through the gardens makes for a nice break from the more hectic sightseeing.
Until this week, I hadn’t been to one in Budapest, mostly because it seems a little odd to say to friends, “It’s such a nice day out! How about we go visit some graves?” But I recently volunteered to revive the NAWA walking group (it sort of petered out as previous members moved away) and was flipping through my Only in Budapest book to find a new place to go. One of the suggestions was the Kerepesi Cemetery, which I had always wanted to visit. And, as one of the walkers yesterday said, it doesn’t matter that the weather has been gloomy and drizzly, because that’s perfect cemetery weather!
We arrived at the cemetery after a good ten minutes’ confusion – note to future tourists: don’t trust Google Maps regarding the location of the entrance. After a little bit of bungled Hungarian, we obtained a few English-language maps of the place, marking the plots of the most famous Hungarians and a few interesting sights. Because of the cold, fog, and drizzle, we didn’t spend nearly as much time there as we could – you could literally spend hours there. The grounds are expansive, with interesting headstones tucked into nearly every inch, and despite the winter chill, we could see the promise of beautiful flowers and trees in the spring. I will definitely be coming back then (perhaps with a guide to explain some of the significance of various people), but here were a few of my favorite sights of the day.