WDEC 2021: Crossroads of diversity

The Cemetery of Père Lachaise (Paris, France)
As part of this year's WDEC, we invite you to participate in the creation of a new photo book entitled "Crossroads of diversity".

20 years of ASCE, 20 days of WDEC

For 20 years already the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe is preserving, protecting and promoting cultural heritage, resting in cemeteries. As a tribute to this important anniversary, this year's Week of Discovering European Cemeteries will last for 20 days, starting on May 28th.

As usual, members will prepare their own activities for the occasion. In addition, we would like to invite you to take part in a joint WDEC project - an online photo book that will emphasize the connection, unity and at the same time diversity of cemeteries that are part of the association.

Crossroads of diversity

European cemeteries are all about diversity. We can see it in religions, nationalities, languages, nature, art and architecture present at the cemeteries. In a way, cemeteries are like crossroads where all these aspects of diversity are combined and united in one place. Furthermore, in a symbolic way, working with cemeteries has put us in front of many crossroads through the years, making us choose which path to take and in which direction to go next to fulfill our mission.

And since cemeteries are full of actual crossroads as well, the theme of this year's photo book will be “Crossroads of diversity”.

How to participate?

If you want to be a part of this photo book send us at least one photo of an interesting crossroad located at your cemetery to our email address admin@significantcemeteries.org.

It can be a photo of one or more crossroads, with or without people, taken by day or by night, from the air or from the ground, with or without important monuments near it. The options are limitless. Be creative and show us the diversity of your cemetery reflected in these crossroads.

Deadline: May 10th, 2021

Based on the materials collected for the photo book, other parallel activities are planned to be carried out, so in addition to the photos, please send us as well:
  • the name of the cemetery where the photo was taken
  • the exact coordinates of the crossroad on the photo
  • briefly complete the following sentence: “This crossroad illustrates the diversity of our cemetery because / with / in its…”


Cemetery name: The Cemetery of Père Lachaise (Paris, France)
Crossroad coordinates:  48.861667, 2.391139

This crossroad illustrates the diversity of our cemetery with the contrast between the simplicity of nature and the thoughtfulness of the works of art, which complement each other into a beautiful whole.


Incomplete materials will not be used in the photo book.
All photos must be provided under license CC0 and will be available to the members of ASCE for download and reprint.

For additional information or any questions, please contact us at admin@significantcemeteries.org.

AGM 2021 announcement

AGM 2019
This year's AGM and Conference is expected to take place in November 2021.
We are glad to announce that the Steering Committee of ASCE decided that the Annual General Meeting and Conference 2021 will take place in November 2021 in an online format.

If the constantly changing situation will allow it, there is an open possibility to hold a limited live meeting and conference in addition to the virtual one as well. Since the execution will be conditioned by the circumstances and security measures at that time, the exact date, location and all the other information will be released later on.

Scientific representatives are working on the theme for the conference and will release a call for papers in the following weeks.

We greet you warmly and look forward to the AGM 2021.

ASCE presidency

20 years of ASCE

20 years of ASCE
For 20 years already our association is preserving, protecting and promoting cultural heritage, resting in cemeteries. And in 2021 we will continue our journey on this wonderful path.

Some things are staying. A poem, written on tombstone. Symbol on the top of a monument. Gates to tranquillity, peace and heritage, resting at cemeteries.They remain because we work on our mission. Day by day, month by month, year by year.

Diversity and adaptation

Even in the present times, when our work is conditioned by the current situation and limitations due to the coronavirus, we continued. Each of us on their own ground, with their own tools, ideas and resources. From digital presentations of the heritage to the engagements and events on the ground, our mission was continued in the diversity of activities.

The same diversity we find at the European cemeteries, filled with religious, national, lingual, natural, artistic, architectural, historical and professional marvels. Diversity we find in the archives of our projects, AGMs, WDECs, exhibitions, guided tours, artistic events. All the amazing variations of human creativity, stories and lives we are proud about.

The symbol of our anniversary

As we wanted to find a special symbol to highlight our 20th anniversary, we discovered that any variation is just right. Any adaptation of the number, any cross or curve or color may be the chosen one. Because they all speak the same language. Language of diversity of cultural heritage, resting in European cemeteries. That’s why we chose all ideas to be accepted and used. Together or individually. Depending on the occasion and moment. Just like we are used to in the cemeteries where individual stories are part of our common story.

Future plans

During this year, we will continue the good work we have been doing passionately, enthusiastically and with dedication for the past 20 years. We will prepare and present diverse ideas, opinions, concepts and events. Enhance our cooperation on SunCemet, WDEC, European Cemeteries Route and other projects. Hopefully assembling and presenting all this diversity with a real life gathering at our Annual General Meeting.

For 20 years already our association is preserving, protecting and promoting cultural heritage, resting in cemeteries. And in 2021, we will continue our journey on this wonderful path.

Lidija Pliberšek
ASCE president

Arthur Tait BEM (1935-2021)

Arthur Tait BEM (1935-2021)
In January we received the sad news of the death of Arthur Tait who has died at the age of 86 after a short illness.

Arthur Tait was chairman of The Friends of Brompton Cemetery for over 20 years and never lost faith in his ambition to achieve a major restoration of Brompton. He worked tirelessly for decades with the Friends and the Royal Parks to achieve £6.2 million in grants in 2016. He had the great satisfaction of seeing Brompton transform from a near wilderness, to a restored cemetery with a new visitor centre and café, playing an active role in modern society. In recognition of this achievement, the UK government awarded him the BEM (British Empire Medal for civil services worthy of recognition by the crown) in 2019.

Arthur was also a wonderfully diplomatic chairman of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends for more than a decade. I well remember benefiting from his wise and patient advice on several occasions.

He was also a staunch supporter of our Association, and firmly supported the European Routes Project.

Our thoughts and sympathies go to his wife Ann and his family at this sad time.

John Moffat UK Steering Group member

"National Day of Civilian Victims of Wars and Conflicts in the World"


Ceremony at the Monument of Civil War Victims of the Monumental Cemetery of Turin.

February 1, 2021 IV edition of the "National Day of Civilian Victims of Wars and Conflicts in the World" established by Law No. 9 of January 25, 2017 (text of law

With the sound of the anti-aircraft siren and the subsequent thunder of destructive bombs replicated into the microphone, the meaningful ceremony began. 

The Director of ANVCG of Turin, Sandra Griva, bringing greetings from President Ugo Genovese and thanking those present for their participation, recalled that the Monument was erected by the Association and with the contribution of the City of Turin. Here is the link to the recording of the intervention.

Fabio Sarzi, son of the partner and director of ANVCG Turin Luigi Sarzi, recalled with his intervention the bombings of 13 July 1943 that shook the city of Turin. Here the link to the video. 

Subsequently Giulia Buttacavoli, niece of a partner, reads an extract of the translation from Piedmontese to Italian of Nino Costa's poem "July 14. A song of lament for the City of Turin". Here the link to the registration. 

At the end, the Councilor Marco Giusta intervened on behalf of the Mayor, invited by the ANVCG Association of Turin for the first ceremony at the Monument.


Urban cemeteries as public spaces: comparison of the Norwegian and Russian case studies

Nordre cemetery in Oslo
Contemporary cemeteries are intriguing examples of “in-between” places with no clear cut between public and private, civic and personal.
Vćr Frelsers cemetery in Oslo

Planners and policy makers often see urban cemeteries as utilitarian burial grounds. However, evidence from different countries demonstrate that their role is more complex. The findings of a Norwegian research projects “Green Urban Spaces – the role of the cemetery in multicultural and interreligious urban contexts” (2014-2017) show that the cemeteries in Oslo are actively used for recreation and perceived by many of their users as green places of restoration. Is such cemetery multifunctionality just a Norwegian phenomenon or we can find similarities in other cultures?

Østre cemetery in OsloFor the comparison, this paper brings empirical evidences from Vvedenskoe cemetery (opened in 1771) in the Russian capital in Moscow. The study partly replicates the above-mentioned Norwegian study adapted to the context of Moscow and employs systematic observations of people’s activities, participant observations and interviews with cemetery visitors. Among many other cemeteries in Moscow, I chose Vvedenskoe cemetery for this study because of its close proximity to housing areas, physical layout with two entrances and comparatively wide alleys and mature vegetation.

Vvedenskoe cemetery in Moscow

Vvedenskoe cemetery in MoscowThe results show that people come to Vvedenskoe cemetery not only to visit their relatives’ graves, although it is the main activity there and more common comparing to the Norwegian case. Thanks to the big amount of heritage graves and special spiritual atmosphere Vvedenskoe cemetery is an attractive place for excursions, especially focused on arts and history. For many of the interviewees this cemetery was included into their everyday life as a place for strolling and reflections, which is similar to the findings from Oslo. Another important aspect for the visitors is the greenery of Vvedenskoe cemetery, which provides an opportunity of the contact with nature for the local residents. The Norwegian researchers had similar observations in case of Oslo. While the range and frequency of recreational activities in Vvedenskoe cemetery is lower than in the studied cemeteries in Norway, the findings clearly show that its role in the city is not limited to the utilitarian functions of a burial ground.

So far academic research of the role of urban cemeteries was focused on Northern Europe and North America and cross-cultural comparative cemetery research almost does not exist, except very few examples. In times of globalisation, cemeteries are among very small number of urban places, which are so culturally and contextually dependent and vary greatly from country to country. On the contrary, to many comparative studies in other fields, which aim to find generalised knowledge and best practices, comparative cemetery research cannot have the same goal because of the importance of the local context. However, I believe that it can give deeper and more nuanced understanding of a cemetery as a phenomenon and its potential. Policymakers and practitioners around the world are starting to acknowledge cemeteries’ multifunctional potential which is especially relevant for fast growing cities with increasing demand for green spaces, such as Oslo and Copenhagen. 

About the author

Pavel Grabalov is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Landscape and Society of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). He holds a Master’s degree in Urban Studies from Malmö University (2017) and has interests in urban planning and people-environment interaction. His current PhD project focuses on the role of cemeteries in contemporary densified cities. Pavel’s research aims to build new interdisciplinary knowledge on urban cemeteries as a special type of public spaces, using case studies from Scandinavian and Russian cultural contexts.

The above article has been prepared for the ASCE Conference 2019 in Ghent, Belgium. The article-related presentation is available HERE.

You can read more about Pavel Grabalov’s academic research on new cemetery policies in Oslo and Copenhagen in: Pavel Grabalov, Helena Nordh, “’Philosophical park’: Cemeteries in the Scandinavian urban context”, Social Studies, Vol. 17:1, https://journals.muni.cz/socialni_studia/article/view/13559

Mirogoj on the “Most Endangered” list

Monumental Cemetery Mirogoj
The Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia nominated the Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj to the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2021.

Monumental Cemetery Mirogoj

Monumental Cemetery Mirogoj, founded in 1876, is one of the most representative monuments in the city of Zagreb. With its unique architecture and numerous historical figures and Croatian personalities buried there, this cemetery has become a place visited by many domestic and foreign visitors.

The 7 Most Endangered Programme 2021

On March 2020, the city of Zagreb was hit by an extremely strong earthquake, which caused severe damage to the Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj. In addition, severe rains and the COVID-19 pandemic situation made it impossible to start renovations and repairs. So the Ministry of Culture and Media of Croatia nominated the Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj to the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2021 - a civil society campaign that identifies endangered monuments and sites in Europe and mobilizes public and private partners on a local, national and European level to find a viable future for those sites.

Cemetery Complex of Mirogoj is now one of the 12 European heritage sites shortlisted for this programme. And maybe to have a place on the "Most Endangered" list does not seem a position to be envied for. But it should be. Because not only that with this nomination, the first step was made to protect and rehabilitate this special site. This nomination also symbolizes the awareness and recognition of high level cultural values of Mirogoj Cemetery and European cemeteries in general. 

For that we congratulate the Monumental Cemetery of Mirogoj and wish them a fast recovery!

SunCemet photo exhibition

SunCemet photo exhibition main
When special moments come together, a special journey of experiences is created. Full of memories and secrets.

Warm sun beams help us read the stories, written in the stones. 

Hear laughter and an echo of joy. Feel love and heroism. 

On this digital journey we caught the light sparkling through European cemeteries. More than 50 authors from 16 countries shared the sun beams with us. With a vivid palette of sun colors they are discovering the memories of life. 

You are kindly invited to view the exhibition. 

All Saints' Day

Deep within our culture is the All Saints' Day pilgrimage. This year, let's make it an All Saints' month.

As Europe is facing one of the worst months of the 2020 pandemic, we are sure it will not change our strongest values, beliefs and piety. Taking care of the cemeteries and tombstones is about maintaining our relationship with the deceased. Loved ones we keep in our memories.

Yet we have to be aware that going out in the crowds contributes to the danger of rising infections.

Thus we call on all our members, friends and colleagues to invite people in extending this year’s All Saints’ Day habits to a full month. Instead of visiting the cemetery on November 1st, do it on the 2nd, 3rd or 15th or 30th. Use the number that is strongly associated with your relationship to the deceased. Their birthday, their wedding day.

Yet again, do it if your local recommendations, rules and measures allow it. Retain our habits, our dedication to preserve and protect the memories resting in the cemeteries.

The relationship we keep with our ancestors is our future.

Lidija Pliberšek, M. Sc.

ASCE president

Photoceramic portraits, an unsuspected cultural heritage

Photoceramics was born in France in 1854 as a decorating technique for pottery. Soon, it became a simple but notable way to portray the dead on their tombs.