20 years of heritage, culture, knowledge and enthusiasm

Concert at Barcelona cemetery
An interesting article about the work of ASCE and its impact on cemeteries in Barcelona.

Establishment of ASCE

In 2001, it became clear that there was a need to highlight the rich heritage of European cemeteries. Thanks to Mauro Felicori and his team, which at that time was represented by the heads of 9 European cemeteries, including Barcelona, the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe (ASCE) was set up with the basic aim of promoting the recognition of European cemeteries as cultural assets of exceptional importance and fostering awareness of them among citizens and the main national and European institutions.

The growing interest on the part of different cemetery managers has consolidated the project, with a total of 23 countries and 124 cities that have joined, and which today make ASCE a European association of reference. Barcelona has always been a very active member from its position in the Steering Committee and for some years holding the presidency.

The impact of ASCE on cemeteries in Barcelona

The evolution of cultural activities in these 20 years has been astonishing and exponential. The streets and squares of the different cemeteries in Barcelona have witnessed and been the setting for routes, concerts, open days, conferences, plays, musicals and, last but not least, spaces in which to show new generations the wealth that cemeteries contain.

It should be noted that the cultural change in our society has been an important factor in the opening of the cemeteries to the city as cultural spaces. Guided tours of the cemeteries are another of the city's attractions, and many people have chosen to take them and learn about the history of Barcelona from the people buried in the cemeteries or the sculptors and architects who left their works there. We would like to make special mention of the different spaces that house cemeteries, in general, considering them to be the depositories of a large part of the tangible and intangible heritage that we are obliged to preserve and pass on to future generations.

On the other hand, the possibility of establishing collaborations with different entities such as the University of Barcelona, the Miró Foundation, the Olympic Museum, among others, offers us the opportunity to carry out interesting projects together, which have subsequently served for students and scholars from different disciplines.

Our 'obsession' over the last ten years has been to open 'our open-air museums' to children, offering schools different educational activities to bring the cemeteries closer to the children so that they understand that cemeteries are spaces full of history and stories and that they should not always be perceived in a sad or negative way.

Barcelona has always wanted to be actively involved in the Association and to collaborate in the projects that have arisen, to offer the public the opportunity to get to know both Barcelona's and Europe's cemeteries more closely. Thus, in the year 2012 it was possible to collaborate in the Eucemet project by organising a photo exhibition in the Funeral Carriage Collection in the Montjuïc Cemetery. In this sense, and always pursuing the same objective of promoting the value of cemeteries and making them known to society, we believe that the ASCE's promotion of the Week of Discovering European Cemeteries (WDEC) is fundamental.

The uniqueness of European Cemeteries Route

We would also like to make special mention of the European Cemeteries Route, a project developed by the Association, which is conceived as a network of cemeteries which, by opening their precincts through cultural routes, makes this important funerary heritage in Europe known in a joint way.

The itinerary generates an image with the capacity to attract tourists who are looking for alternatives to the existing offer.

We must highlight the uniqueness of this itinerary with respect to other existing ones:

  • It is an itinerary aimed at all segments of the public: citizens of the city itself, tourists, schools, groups, etc.
  • The itinerary combines culture and nature (most of the cemeteries can be considered as parks).
  • The itinerary completes the existing cultural offer in the cities and in Europe.

For them, communication tools common to all the cemeteries that take part of the route were established, as well as communication actions aimed at raising awareness of the route.

The importance of ASCE scientific committee

We do not want to end our article without making special mention of the ASCE scientific committee created expressly to supervise the Association's work plan. Members contribute their experience from different fields of work, which help to have a broader vision when proposing new projects and new cemetery inclusions.

For 20 more years of heritage, culture, knowledge, and new experiences.

Miquel Trepat Celis
General Director of Cementiris de Barcelona
Cemetery Services Management
Cemeteries of Barcelona

You can access the original article HERE.

Rediscovering the cultural importance of Greek Cemeteries

Cemetery of Skiathos (Skiathos island, Greece)
An insight into how membership in ASCE has contributed to the development and preservation of Greek cemeteries.
For the past two decades, the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe has gone to inspiring lengths to promote and highlight the importance of cemeteries all over Europe as part of our tangible and intangible common cultural heritage.

Skiathos, the second Municipality in Greece to become a member of the ASCE, albeit a tiny island, is home to a cemetery of great historical and artistic value. Through the inspiring leadership of the President Lidija Pliberšek, and the collaboration with the Board of ASCE, we managed to lead the way for more and more Municipalities of Greece to join or be in process of joining ASCE in the context of the European Cemeteries Route as well as to mobilise the Ministry of Culture and set a lot of different actions in motion through synergies with various bodies throughout Europe.

Skiathos’ Cemetery became a historic site, an exceptional landmark not to be missed by anyone visiting the island, even making it on the list of the “10 must-see” spots of Skiathos, according to TripAdvisor. Moreover, the local society of the island had the chance to rediscover the cultural importance of the Cemetery and its ties to not only the island’s past but the future, by strengthening the community’s bonds with the identity of Skiathos. Furthermore, promoting the significant European Cemeteries through the ASCE channels, simultaneously promotes tourism development.

Understanding the significance of European cemeteries is inextricably interwoven with understanding European culture. ASCE, a vehicle to preserve collective historical memory through protecting cemeteries, turned 20 and I personally cannot wait to see what the future hold.

Thodoris Tzoumas
Mayor of Skiathos, Greece
ASCE’s Steering Committee Member
ASCE’s Representative in Greece

You can access the original article HERE.

200th Anniversary of the Piratello Cemetery

Piratello Cemetery
Imola's monumental cemetery is organizing special guided tours in honor of its 200th anniversary.

Inauguration of the commemorative plaque

On Saturday, October 30, 2021, at 15.45, you are invited to the inauguration of the restored commemorative plaque which marks 200 years from the blessing of the first cloister at the Piratello Cemetery. The inauguration will start at the old part of the cemetery and will then continue in the sanctuary of Piratello.

You can find the official invitation in Italian HERE.

Guided tours at the Piratello Cemetery

Also in honor of the 200th anniversary of the cemetery, ANPI and CIDRA is organizing guided tours on the memorial site where are cherished testimonies from prominent citizens relevant to the local and italian history. The guided tours will take place:
  • on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at 14.00
  • on Saturday, November 6, 2021, at 11.00
You can find the official invitation in Italian HERE.

Attendance to the inauguration and to the guided tours is free prior reservation. You can make the reservation at the email imola@anpi.it.

AGM 2021 report

AGM 2021, Budapest
On September 17th, the Annual General Meeting took place at the Military History Institute and Museum in Budapest.
36 participants from 14 countries signed up for a splendidly organised meeting. Thoughtful planning of the event enabled us to overview our work and future plans at the 20th anniversary of ASCE.

AGM was preceeded by Mrs Lidija Pliberšek, president of ASCE and all steering committee members were present or gave proxy to other members. During the AGM several things were outlined and discussed:

1. Welcome speech and presentation by our host, National Heritage Institute of Hungary, focused on the new digital solutions that enable systematic updating and analysis of the heritage areas and items.

    2. Overview of the 20 years of ASCE activities and work was presented by Mrs Lidija Pliberšek. Present members received a small memorial gift.

    3. 20th anniversary activities and European Cemeteries Route activities were presented by Mr Dušan Vrban.

    4. ASCE projects and activities were presented by Mrs Renate Niklas.

    5. ASCE new members were presented by Mrs Metka Debevc.

    6. ASCE and European Cemeteries Route communications activities and materials were presented by Mr Dušan Vrban.

    7. AGM 2022 and AGM 2023 plans were presented by Mr Martin Ernerth.

    8. Sceintific representatives report was presented by Mrs Andreea Pop.

    9. AGM concluded with a debate on financial report and situation of ASCE.

    Photos from AGM 2021

    Photos from the AGM and conference are available in this album.

    AGM in Budapest video

    20 years of ASCE video

    ASCE Conference 2021: Program

    ASCE Conference 2021
    Find out who are the experts that will be lecturing at the ASCE conference 2021 and what are they going to talk about.

    About the ASCE Conference 2021

    The ASCE Conference 2021 is being organized by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust for the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe, and will take place in an online form via ZOOM on 11 and 12 November 2021. The main theme is "Cemetourism: Cemeteries with Stories to Tell".

    Furthermore, this year's Conference will be an extension of the AGM 2021, and will therefore address the basic definition of significant cemeteries as well as the possible methods of categorizing cemeteries as significant. 

    Conference speakers

    Conference speakers will include many acknowledged experts from all over Europe who will speak on the topic of Cemetourism. Some of them are:

    ➤ Professor Tijana Borić (University of Niš, Serbia)
    "Old Cemetery in Rajacke Pimnice – A Highlight of a Unique Travel Destination"

    ➤ Domenico Bruno (Arciconfrternita S. Maria del Popolo agli Incurabili, Italy)
    "Development of the cemetery tourism and history of the 366 graves cemetery in Naples"

    ➤ Malcolm Crampton (Jigsaw Design & Publishing, UK)
    "Every visitor needs a good guidebook"

    ➤ Tamara Ingels (Independent consultant, Belgium)
    "The dynamics between the primary, secondary and tertiary functions of cemeteries"

    ➤ Dr Barbara Leisner (Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany)
    "Museums on Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg"

    ➤ Renate Niklas (General Manager Friedhöfe Wien GmbH, Austria)
    "Cemeteries are full of life....in Vienna"

    ➤ Mahmut Okcesiz (Ottoman Gravestones Expert, Turkey)
    "Understanding and Promoting Adalizade Historic Cemetery"

    ➤ Dr Mari Plikuhn (University of Evansville, United States)
    "Memento Mori: The Importance of Historic Cemeteries in Death (and) Education"

    ➤ Dr Julie Rugg (University of York, UK)
    "Cemetery tourism vs funerary heritage tourism? Achieving a balance"

    ➤ Aude Thevenon (Patrimoine Aurhalpin, France)
    "The "Printemps des cimetières", a national event dedicated to the promotion of funerary heritage."

    ➤ Dr Paul Tourle (Barker Langham, UK)
    "Possible Worlds: Brookwood Cemetery and the Interpretation of Memorial Landscapes"

    ➤ Miquel Trepat Celis (General Manager of Cementiris in Barcelona, Spain)
    "Reconciling tourism with burial activities?"

    and many more!

    Short summaries of the lectures will be published regularly on the ASCE Facebook page, so don't forget to follow us.

    Join us at the conference

    Given the extremely interesting lectures and excellent speakers, no one with an interest in historic cemeteries should miss this conference. 

    You can find the registration form HERE.

    The general admission for the two days Conference is 25,00 EUR.

    If you have any questions, please contact us at admin@significantcemeteries.org.

    ASCE Conference 2021: What makes a cemetery significant?

    ASCE Conference 2021
    The latest proposals in this area, that were also discussed at the AGM 2021, will now be presented at this year's ASCE Conference.

    Extension of the AGM 2021

    The ASCE Conference 2021, which this year exceptionally takes place separately from the Annual General Meeting, is being organized by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust for the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe, and will take place in an online form via ZOOM on 11 and 12 November 2021. Nevertheless, we wanted to maintain the connection between the two events. Therefore, this year's Conference will be an extension of the AGM, and will address many topics which were previously discussed at the meeting. The basic definition of significant cemeteries will be at the forefront. 

    What makes a cemetery significant?

    This is the question that has been rising over and over again since the very founding of ASCE. Over the past 20 years, we have been trying to find and improve an effective method of categorizing cemeteries into this important group. The latest proposals in this area, that were presented at this year's AGM, will now be presented also at the ASCE Conference.

    Mr. Ian Dungavell (delegated and scientific representative of ASCE and organizer of this year's ASCE Conference) will have an extremely interesting and instructive lecture in which he will answer the important questions about what makes a cemetery significant. Is this its size, history, artistic and architectural value, the important personalities buried there or something completely different? 

    Let's find out together. Join the discussion and tell us what your opinion is.

    How to register for the Conference?

    You can find the registration form HERE.

    The general admission for the two days Conference is 25,00 EUR.

    ASCE members will get a special promo code via email with all the information on how to use it to get a 10,00 EUR discount upon registration. If you are an ASCE member and did not receive the promotional email by Friday, October 8, 2021, please contact us at admin@significantcemeteries.org.

    Certosa of Bologna designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the porticos of the city

    On July 28, 2021, the porticos of Bologna were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    The candidacy process began in 2006, when they became part of the Italian list of candidate sites. The property includes 12 groups of porticos and the surrounding built-up areas, located within the Municipality of Bologna.

    This architectural typology is undoubtedly the most representative of the city and extends for a total of 62 kilometers. It is, in fact, considered an element of urban identity - as the Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini underlines, highlighting how its unique nature deserves to be promoted. 
    In the course of 2020 the candidacy dossier has been revised, enriched and strengthened by including other places in the fabric of the city of historical, architectural and artistic importance closely related to the porticos selected, such as the Palazzo della Mercanzia, the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Baraccano, the system of Piazze (Maggiore, Re Enzo and Nettuno), the stretch of the plain of the portico of San Luca up to the Arco Bonaccorsi, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the portico of Alemanni and part of the monumental area of the Certosa Cemetery

    With this recognition, the Certosa of Bologna Monumental Cemetery becomes a World Heritage Site
    The straight porticoed structure over seven hundred meters long that connects the cemetery to the portico of San Luca - the longest in the world - is a unique example of a modern sepulchral portico, built between 1811 and 1834 thanks to the generosity of its citizens. Ercole Gasparini's project was to physically connect the city of the dead with the city of the living, continuing the centuries-old local tradition of connecting places outside the city center to the city. 

    The Certosa Cemetery was founded in 1801 after the Napoleonic edict of Saint-Cloud, on the model of the ancient Roman sepulchral roads, converting the Carthusian convent built in 1334, of which today the church of San Girolamo remains. The monumental complex is the result of an articulated stratification of loggias, cloisters and buildings belonging to various chronological phases, whose fulcrum is represented by the Chiostro Terzo, which is influenced by the local neoclassical culture. Inside, there is a noteworthy repertoire of paintings and sculptures made by the most virtuous Bolognese artists active in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

    In the cemetery are housed some important local and national figures: among them the statesman Marco Minghetti; the painters Giorgio Morandi and Bruno Saetti; the Nobel Prize for literature Giosue Carducci and the writer Riccardo Bacchelli; the opera singer Carlo Broschi, the composer Ottorino Respighi and the singer Lucio Dalla; the general Giuseppe Grabinski and the prime minister Taddeo Matuszevic; as well as the founders of the companies Maserati, Ducati and Weber and of the publishing house Zanichelli

    Throughout the nineteenth century, the Cemetery was a privileged destination for visitors to Bologna, whose most illustrious names include: Lord Byron, Jules Janin, Charles Dickens and Theodor Mommsen.
    It is, therefore, an exceptional place from the historical and cultural artistic point of view in the national and international panorama, worthy of the highest form of protection and promotion. The Portico of Certosa was designed by Ercole Gasparini between 1811 and 1834. In the original idea, the building was meant to be longer, but only the section from the Arco del Meloncello to the Reno Canal was built. In reality, there are traces of another segment, totally distorted and incorporated with the subsequent enlargements: it is a short corridor that runs along the west side of the courtyard of the Monumental Entrance and that preserves some nineteenth-century tombs. Gasparini's idea was that the portico should connect seamlessly with the Certosa, reaching its center, giving real form to an ideal union between the city of the living and the city of the dead. 

    The area selected as UNESCO heritage is the one that has more relevance both from an architectural and theoretical point of view with Gasperini's project. Some areas of the twentieth century are thus included because they were built respecting the urban form of the nineteenth-century cemetery (Chiostro VIII, Chiostro IX for example) or because they conclude an idea that was never realized. The Chiostro VI or of the Great War was completed almost a century after the Portico della Certosa, but it traces the area and the spirit of what should have been the 'Chiostro del Pantheon' which was only realized in the south side, then demolished and preserved only for the monuments that had been built in the meantime. It is not by chance that in this part of the VI Cloister there are some tombs dating back to the beginning of the nineteenth century, such as the one dedicated to the sculptor Alessandro Franceschi, whose presence would not be explained otherwise.

    ASCE Conference 2021: It's time to sign up!

    ASCE Conference 2021
    Acknowledged cemetery experts discussing "Cemetourism: Cemeteries with Stories to Tell". Join us at the ASCE Conference 2021.

    Conference dates and venue

    After the excellent ASCE Annual General Meeting, which took place from 16-18 September 2021 in Budapest, Hungary, another great event is approaching. The ASCE Conference 2021, which this year exceptionally takes place separately from the meeting, is being organized by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust for the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe, and will take place in an online form via ZOOM. When?

    On Thursday 11 and Friday 12 November 2021.
    • 9am-2pm UK time
    • 10:00 - 15:00 UTC +1 (most of Europe)
    • 11:00-16:00 UTC+2 (Athens, Bucharest)

    Cemetourism: Cemeteries with Stories to Tell

    This year's Conference will be especially interesting, taking a practical rather than historical approach to significant cemeteries. The main theme is Cemetourism, and many acknowledged cemetery experts will be speaking about: 
    • Understanding the cultural significance of cemeteries.
    • Developing the unique story of your cemetery.
    • Wayfinding: helping visitors navigate to the parts that matter.
    • Cemetery museums: complementing the outdoor experience.
    • Cultural programming in cemeteries.
    • Working with tourism promotion agencies.
    • Reconciling tourism with burial activities.
    • And so much more.

    The event will also be an extension of the AGM 2021 and will therefore address many topics which were previously discussed at the meeting. A great opportunity for all the ASCE members that were unable to come to Budapest, and for all the others who have an interest in significant cemeteries.

    How to register?

    You can find the registration form HERE.

    The general admission for the two days Conference is 25,00 EUR.

    ASCE members will get a special promo code via email with all the information on how to use it to get a 10,00 EUR discount upon registration. If you are an ASCE member and will not receive the promotional email by Friday, October 8, 2021, please contact us at admin@significantcemeteries.org.

    Parish Cemetery of Olvera (Olvera, Spain)

    Parish Cemetery of Olvera (Olvera, Spain)
    The Parish Cemetery of Olvera has been a place of burial for centuries, protected by the medieval fortress and the cliffs on which the castle sits.

    About the Cemetery

    The Parish Cemetery of Olvera originates back to 1573, when the parish acquired the lands of an old olive grove after the construction of a primitive church in the middle of the 16th century. As usual, this space was intended for the burial of those who could not afford to be buried inside the church, in the underground vaults. This cemetery remained the only one in Olvera until 1899, when the Municipal Cemetery was built. The Parish Cemetery was closed on 2 March 1932, during the Second Spanish Republic, due to the law of secularization. However, in 1938 secularization and seizures in Spain ceased, returning the ownership and management to the Church.

    This graveyard stands out for its location hung to the void, anchored to the great rock on which the Castle sits. From there you can contemplate some excellent panoramic views of the region. It also stands out for its artistic and historical values, and you can appreciate the constructive evolution of the niches of the municipality, at the beginning of stone, lime and sand, and today of brick. Its exceptional degree of preservation allows you to find epitaphs barely readable by the passage of time. The orography to which it had to adapt has given the elongated form that it currently shows. Despite being mottled to the space, it has been possible the construction of family mausoleums, chapels and graves.

    On All Saints Day, Olvera Parish Cemetery looks like no other day of the year, being the meeting place of neighbors and outsiders who come to him in order to adorn it. Every corners of the narrow streets that compose it have ornamental elements, flowers and candles that stand out between crosses of forge and marble angels.

    Important graves or monuments

    The Entrance (19th century): 
    The entrance to the enclosure is made through a grid that gives way to a kind of corridor located between two houses, which becomes a space of transition between the street and the cemetery in an Andalusian typical esthetic.

    Entrance to the enclosure (19th century) Entrance to the enclosure (19th century)

    Arab Wall, BIC - Element of Cultural Interest for the Ministry of Culture, Gobernment of Spain (The 12th century):
    Today several towers and walls are conserved of which was the walled fence that defended the town that would rise in its interior. It starts from the angle of the south side of the castle following south and west. The round passage is preserved in the wall. The set is constructed of rigid walls of small size and irregular shape.

    Arab Wall (12th century) Arab Wall (12th century)

    Castle of Olvera, BIC - Element of Cultural Interest for the Ministry of Culture, Gobernment of Spain (The 12th century):
    The Castle was built at the end of the 1th Century and formed part of the defenses of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada. At 623 meters above sea level it is the highest point in the locality, Its strategic position allowed a view of the castles along the frontier that separated Muslim and Christian Spain. Its irregular foundations are adapted to the craggy cliff on which it sits.

    Castle of Olvera (12th century) Castle of Olvera (12th century)


    Plaza de la Iglesia, nº11,
    11690 Olvera (Cádiz)


    Juan Caballero de las Olivas y Buzón
    Email: parroquia.olvera@gmail.com
    Phone: 956120388

    Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Olvera
    Email: ayuntamiento@olvera.es
    Phone: 956130011

    In memoriam – Dragan Baltovski


    Dear friends and colleagues,

    We wish to share with you that our General Manager, Mr Dragan Baltovski passed away suddenly this morning. Mr Baltovski was an exceptional manager and scholar, who transformed our company in to well-organized, modern funeral company. In addition, Mr Baltovski supported and was intensely involved in ASCE activities and promotion of the funerary heritage of the New Cemetery.  He was our biggest motivator, harshest critic, but also a tremendous support during the hardest of times and will be missed greatly.

    Mr Dragan Baltovski was born in Zaječar on November 16,1953. He graduated from the University of Belgrade, Faculty of Economics in 1977, while acquiring Master of Science in Economics at the University of Belgrade Faculty of Economics in 2005. He commenced his professional career at the Foreign Trade Institute in 1978 and continued at Serbian Chamber of Commerce Canter for Research, Development and Economic Analyses in 2000. Mr Baltovski was the author of numerous papers on economic development of Serbia, international economic relations and services sector development. Appointed General Manager of PUC „Funeral Services“ by the City of Belgrade on 20.10.2008 and was since elected three more times.

    Public Utility Company "Funeral Services"

    Belgrade, October 1, 2021