When cemetery maven Loren Rhoads asked me what my favorite cemetery was, I had to take a moment, because that’s some Sophie’s Choice s*%t right there. How does a mother chose between her children, a man between love of country and love of a woman, a dog between hydrant and fence post? Go on, ask me to count the stars in the sky, but ask me not to choose my favorite cemetery.
My first instinct was Forever Fernwood in Marin, only fair since I plan on being buried there. Well, at least that’s the plan until I can open my open-air-corpse-disposal-vulture-preserve.
But then I thought of Kerepesi, which I visited this summer in Budapest, Hungary.
Kerepesi being a land-of-wonderment was a bit of a surprise, really. I didn’t even give myself that much time to explore, getting there only an hour or so before I had to catch a night train to Poland. The first monument I came across was this guy. And I was like, well well. Hi there evil sheep-dude. If this is the best there is at Kerepesi, still totally worth a trip.
But oh no. It got so much better.
Kerepesi was established in 1847, making in one of the oldest preserved cemeteries in Hungary. It also means there are all these intricate monuments to war heroes and revolutionaries and lots of guys named József and János.
My traveling companion and I quickly realized the cemetery was massive, and she plopped down on a bench to watch out backpacks and use her $400 a minute Euro-data plan to text the comely Dutch gentlemen we had met the night before. I wandered off into the abyss of Kerepesi. Graves before bros.
Soon I found a treasure trove of bronze (I think?) grave monuments that turned green and black from being outdoors for so many year. They look more sinister and gorgeous and perfect than anything ever. If I ever get a bronze monument I hope it just goes straight to green because YES GAWD.
Are you dying yet? I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Hard to pick a favorite monument.
Here’s contender #1, a random massive woman in bed with cherub attendants. Keep in mind that I was alone in Kerepesi. This one caused me to look around, as if being punk’d. Punk’eth’d. “Is this real life?” she said to the empty cemetery.
No, not even this woman’s charms could win my heart. I only had eyes for this beauty.
Everything about this- the font! the blue weathering! the crazy shrouded face!- is perfection. What is not to love? NOTHING.
All too soon it was over, and a upwards and onwards to a torturous overnight train to Krakow with 6 people sleeping in a car the size of an airline toilet in 95 degree heat. But that, my friends, is a tale for another time.