The cemetery from below the village (Volintiri, Moldova)

The cemetery from below the village (Volintiri, Moldova)
The cemetery boasts a unique blend of architectural and landscape design elements that have cultural and symbolic significance for local history and international connections.

About the cemetery

In the first half of the 19th century, as the village began to expand, there arose a need for a second cemetery. The original burial grounds had become overcrowded, and a new resting place was designated on the outskirts of the village. This became known as the second cemetery, located in the southwestern region of the village. In those times, the community was primarily involved in agriculture, with many families raising cattle. To safeguard this new cemetery from the grazing cattle, a protective fence was erected around its perimeter.

The cemetery comprises an older section, where weathered stone crosses mark the final resting places of generations long past. Over time, this hallowed ground became the chosen resting place for the village's more prominent figures, including mayors and community leaders. 

Locals have a unique saying, suggesting that in death, one goes to the lilac. This phrase originates from the tradition of planting lilac bushes near the graves. However, with an increasing number of people emigrating abroad, the lilac bushes have grown to cover over half of the cemetery's expanse. As a result, finding a specific grave in the second cemetery can prove to be challenging sometimes.

An interesting custom takes place at the cemetery every year, a week after Easter. The entire village gathers at the cemetery to honor the departed, cleaning and adorning graves with fresh flowers. They bring red eggs, sweet bread, and gifts to the cemetery, uniting in remembrance. The priest leads prayers, candles are lit, and wine is poured onto graves. Presents are distributed to the needy, emphasizing charity and unity. The day concludes with a communal meal, strengthening bonds and honoring traditions. 

Cemetery features

The cemetery described boasts a unique blend of architectural and landscape design elements that hold cultural and symbolic significance for the community.

The steel gate, designed and crafted by a local artisan, stands as a prominent architectural feature and serves as the portal to this sacred ground. Adorned with crosses, it assumes a dual role in the funeral ceremony, signifying both entry to the cemetery and a place of ceremonial importance.

The wooden crucifixions add another layer of significance to the cemetery's design. One is prominently situated at the entrance, acting as a spiritual guidepost for visitors. Others are strategically placed at the crossroads within the cemetery, symbolizing spiritual guidance in the journey of the departed souls. The combination of renovated and original crucifixes tells a story of time's passage and the preservation of tradition.

Historically, a chapel once graced the main entrance of the cemetery. However, due to age and financial constraints, it was demolished. The desire to rebuild a chapel now drives a crowdfunding initiative within the village. The restoration of this religious structure is a testament to the community's commitment to preserving its spiritual core and providing a dedicated space for mourning, reflection, and ceremonies.

The graves themselves bear a distinct design feature, each marked by a cross and a rectangular mound of earth. The rectangle mirrors the shape of a coffin and can be made from concrete, steel, or stone. This design unifies the graves, creating a sense of order and continuity in the burial ground. The inclusion of cross markings reaffirms the religious and spiritual essence of the cemetery, symbolizing the enduring connection to faith.

Another important facet is the tradition of planting flowers and trees at each grave. This landscape design element reflects the cycle of life and the ever-renewing connection between the living and the deceased. The vibrant blooms and foliage represent the continuity of memory and life's beauty even in the solemn setting of a cemetery.

Cemetery significance

Being the second of its kind in the village, the cemetery holds a profound historical significance. It stands as a testament to the community's enduring relationship with its departed members and the passage of time. Within its hallowed grounds rests the oldest grave, dating back to the 18th century. This time-honored site is a repository of historical and ancestral connections, a poignant reminder of the village's deep-rooted traditions and the passage of generations.

Furthermore, this cemetery serves as the final resting place for a Romanian pilot who met a valiant yet tragic end during the tumultuous period of the First World War. The presence of the pilot's grave underscores the village's historical link to international events and its willingness to pay tribute to those who have made sacrifices on behalf of their country.

In summary, this cemetery is a repository of both local history and international connections, bridging the past and the present. It reflects the enduring respect and remembrance bestowed upon those who have played significant roles in the village's narrative in the course of history.

Cemetery address

4241 Volintiri

Basic data

Year of first burial: 1748
Current area: 4 ha
Approximate number of graves: 5.000