The Merry Cemetery of Săpânţa is a rather unusual attraction. It is a church graveyard exuberantly coloured, famous for the painted wooden crosses engraved with witty epitaphs for the deceased. The satirical poems are written in vibrant colours (yellow, red, white and green) on an already famous blue background, called “Săpânța blue”.
The idea belonged to the master woodcarver Stan Ion Pătraş, whose work is nowadays continued by his apprentice, Dumitru Pop Tincu. Pătraş sculpted the first epitaph in 1935 and since 1960 more than 800 crosses came out from the hands of the two craftsmen. It thus became a unique open air museum and a touristic attraction for people from all around the world.
The vividly coloured illustrations are related to the deceased, naive pictures depicting scenes from their lives or their occupations, from spinning wool, weaving carpets and making bread to cutting wood, ploughing the field or herding the sheep. Some of the crosses are painted on both sides. On one side there is written a description of the deceased’s life, and on the other a description of the reason of death. There are also short poems and verses humorously depicting the deceased. Every cross tells a different story, funny and bitter at the same time. One example is: “Who sought money to amass, could not Death escape, alas”.
The novelty of this cemetery is the difference from the cemeteries belonging to other cultures, which consider death as a tragic and very solemn event. Sometimes, the distinctive character of this cemetery was connected to the Dacian culture. Their philosophy was based on immortality and the belief that death was a reason of joy, as the respective person went to a better world where he would meet Zamolxis, the supreme divinity.
Daily, between 10:00 and 18:00
Adults: 4 lei
Children: 2 lei
Photo fee: 4 lei
Video fee: 10 lei
How to get there:
By car: Săpânța is situated at 83km north of Baia Mare. From Baia Mare, take DN18 to Sighetu Marmației and then follow DN19 to Săpânța. Approximate travel time is 1h 15’.