Greek-orthodox cemetery (Livorno, Italy)

Greek-orthodox cemetery (Livorno, Italy)
Besides its architectural and artistic significance, the cemetery stands as an important symbol of the once bright Greek community and Diaspora in Livorno and wider area.

Cemetery history

The Greek Orthodox community of Livorno, after constructing their church in via della Rosa Bianca in 1760, was permitted to establish the first Greek-Orthodox cemetery near the Cisternone in 1776. This initial cemetery space was eventually closed due to the rapid development of the city, with the last burial occurring in 1838.

In the same year, the Greek confraternity purchased the field where the current cemetery stands, on via Marco Mastacchi, next to the same sized Dutch cemetery. The cemetery officially opened in 1840, and the burials from the older cemetery were moved there.

Cemetery features

Designed by Olinto Paradossi, renowned for other notable projects in Livorno's public spaces during the 19th century, the new Greek-Orthodox cemetery boasts a rectangular layout covering 3818 m2. It comprises the church of the Dormition of Virgin Mary, an entrance building shared with the neighboring Dutch cemetery, and an expansive tree-planted area housing scattered burial monuments and fencing.

In total there are 242 burial monuments in the cemetery, featuring inscriptions in Greek, Italian, and the Cyrillic alphabet. Notably, 64 of these tombs are situated within the church, covering the floor, and presenting an unusual typology, reminiscent of monastic-type churches found in Mount Athos. Surprisingly, behind these burials, instead of the holy step one might expect, there lies a rectangular space filled also with tombs covered with cross vaults. These graves belong to prominent figures of Livorno's flourishing Greek Community, intimately tied to the city's history and, most significantly, to the revolution and liberation of Greece in 1821.

Outdoors, numerous striking marble tombs and monuments complement the chapel's artistic elements, including a curved wood iconostasis, oil paintings, and special floor tombs, forming an architectural and landscape ensemble with significant cultural and historical value. 

There have been no alterations or changes to the original design and all the current efforts are now focused on preserving the original artistic elements and their integrity.

Cemetery significance

The cemetery with its church stands for much more than a religious space for the Greek and Orthodox community in Livorno. Is rather a symbol of recognition and acceptance. And still today, it represents a very much connected and alive part of the local Greek community.

The Greek-orthodox cemetery is also one of the few such old orthodox cemeteries, located outside Greece, operating independently rather than within another cemetery context. 

The temple that is bearing the floor tombs, along with the striking external marble tombs, forms a remarkable architectural ensemble, and it has been rightfully recognized by Italian authorities as a cultural monument to be preserved.

Cemetery address

Via Marco Mastacchi 227
57122 Livorno

Basic data

Year of first burial: 1820
Year of last burial: 2009
Current area: 0,38 ha
Approximate number of graves: 242