20 years of tourism

City Cemetery Škaljari (Kotor, Montenegro)
All in vain is the amazingly preserved cultural heritage of the cemetery, if its sparkling stories of love, wars and discoveries are not joyfully talked about, touched and remembered.
In 20 years, our association highlighted the importance of the jewels that quietly absorb all of its surrounding history in small inscriptions and gigantic artistic expressions of eternal devotion. Passionate ASCE members developed an endless stream of projects and activities, guided tours, books and concerts, lectures and congresses which generated new attractivity of the cemeteries.

Sure, cemetery tourism was here a long time before. People visited cemeteries for the purpose of enjoying the culture and history of its region. Yet all such visits were often more of a rumour rather than fact. An awkward habit that cemeteries tourists kept as a hidden treasure for themselves. Knowing that talking about it would raise many eyebrows.

Tourism of change

Anyone that ever walked a cemetery just because they decided to do so, was changed by the experience itself. Quiet place in the centre of a vibrant city cleared their minds, washed their souls of all the unimportant, earthly and non-divine thoughts.

Within the diversity of all the stories discovered, cemetery tourists are introduced to his own uniqueness, her own belonging. Introduced by the memories of others they rethink the decisions made, actions taken.

Every tourist visit to the cemetery means accepting and appreciating life once again, much more than before.

Changing tourism

Past 20 years on the other hand were marked by the transformation of global tourism. The industry was pushed by an incredible share of information over internet channels, leading to major touristic points being swallowed by the masses. Reducing the experience to unthinkable nothing. Industrial, cheap, nothing.

Experts are desperately seeking solutions to the overcrowded cities and historical treasures. There awaits the unthinkable, obvious chance. Cemeteries are not meant to replace the major attractions, neither be overflowing with tourists. Yet they carry the most important essence of meaningful tourism: stories.

Guided tours over monumental cemeteries or small gardens of souls in villages across Europe are always filled out with most unusual and controversial stories that are hidden during any rushing visit to the city. Chapters of history and culture that are so rich that they are an opportunity for building completely new, slow down tourism products. Thus creating that essential switch that tourism experts are looking for.

Diverging tourism, diverging life

This is why we have to keep going. Organizing more events, getting cemeteries to every tourism map, every city flyer and destination website. Because cemeteries gained so much from this community. And they can give back so much more.

With sparkling stories of love, wars and discoveries joyfully talked about, touched and remembered, cemeteries are diverging tourism, diverging life.

ASCE members, fans and colleagues, keep this going for the next 20 years.


Dušan Vrban
European Cemeteries Route manager