Bellu Cemetery: History, Art and Drama
Bellu Cemetery is one of the most authentic cultural attractions in Bucharest. More off the beaten track than the other cultural monuments, a visit to this cemetery is no doubt one of the best things to do in Bucharest, especially if you’re passionate about history and culture or you have a soft side for tragic love stories.
The history of the cemetery begins in the second half of the 19th century when the local authorities decided to move all cemeteries outside the city because of increased risks of cholera. In this context, a rich local man, Barbu Bellu, donated a large vineyard to be used as land for a new cemetery in the outskirts of the city, today a lively part of the capital.
Since then, the cemetery gradually became a unique outdoor gallery of impressive funeral sculptures and tombs created by famous artists of the time, almost 200 of them being listed as historical monuments. Among them are the sculptures of Rafaello Romanelli representing the couple Poroineanu, husband and wife, who killed themselves after finding out they were brother and sister, or the statue of Katalina Boschott, a Belgian governess who died after an unsuccessful surgery, buried and mourned by her Romanian rich and secret lover.
Besides the many melancholic statues that will surely make you stop and imagine the stories behind them, the cemetery also has a special corner where the most famous Romanian writers are buried, including the poets Mihai Eminescu and Nichita Stanescu, the writer Ion Luca Caragiale or the singer Maria Tanase.
An Art Deco style chapel built in 1890 presides in the center of the Bellu Cemetery that extends today on 220,000 square meters. Resembling the Cathedral of Karlsbad, the chapel’s interior painting were done by some of the best-known Romanian artists of the time, Dimitrie Belizarie and Arthur Verona.
One of the unmissable cultural attractions in Bucharest, sharing stories of glory and tragedies, the cemetery was included on the list of the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe. Its state of the art statues and unique look place on any list of the best things to do in Bucharest.
It’s not allowed to take photos without previous written approval.
The Jewish and the Lutheran Cemeteries are across the street.