Bari has an impressive cemetery in the middle of the city, which is well worth a visit during your stay in the city. Bari’s monumental cemetery is almost like a city within a city.
We walked from the old town to Bari’s monumental cemetery. The walk took about 30 minutes and led us through streets that we certainly wouldn’t have seen otherwise. There were no tourists there and the prices in the small bakeries and shops were much cheaper than in the old town.
The cemetery is nestled between the railway line and a main road on Via Francesco Crispi. This is also where the main entrance to the grounds is located. Burials have been taking place in Bari’s monumental cemetery since December 1842, and if you wander through the grounds, you will discover some very old graves. It is very interesting that people of different faiths, languages and geographical origins have found their final resting place here. If you are familiar with the personalities of the city and Apulia, you will certainly discover one or two well-known names.
Impressions of the Monumental Cemetery of Bari
Even before you enter the grounds, the first gravesites with urn graves are located in front of the beautiful entrance gate. Flags are flying here and the dates on the graves indicate war victims’ graves.
When you step through the entrance, it is almost like entering a city within a city. Cemeteries have something special in every country, actually in every region, and reveal a lot about the inhabitants (but also about their cemetery regulations). While in Germany one sees almost only “neatly laid out” grave fields with often almost uniform grave design, cemeteries in other countries surprise us again and again. And the monumental cemetery of Bari is certainly one of the most unusual cemeteries we have seen so far.
Long tree-lined avenues and small winding paths between the gravesites almost seem inviting for a walk. If you didn’t know better, some areas of the cemetery could feel like an art exhibition or an open-air museum. What monumental and artistically designed graves!
Some graves are traditionally designed with angels, others with ornate stone figures and some have more unusual shapes, such as a pyramid.
Large mausoleums in a wide variety of designs stand as burial places for entire families in the cemetery. Some of them have gravestones on the outside with the names of the family members buried there. Between the trees, the sun shines on the graves, giving some of them an almost mystical and surreal appearance.
Already in this area, however, there are also modern tombs that have been erected on vacant plots. The design of the mausoleums is straightforward, without much ornamentation and often made of rather shiny material.
If you walk out of the area with the quite old graves, you reach an area with few trees. Here the individual grave fields are very open and the graves are more recent.
It is very noticeable that there are no more monumental buildings to be seen here. Compared to many cemeteries in Germany, the graves are still visually very impressive, but no longer pompous.
It is striking that, with very few exceptions, the colour white dominates here. The gravestones, the grave slabs, the borders,… actually all elements are bright white and colourful cheerful flowers (partly made of plastic) shine like splashes of colour into the sky.
As we walked past a grave, I quickly realised why everything was so beautifully white. Here, two women were standing with scrubbing brushes, buckets and brushes, a smell of chlorine bleach caught our noses and we could watch them scrubbing the gravestone clean. With this cleaning method, a grave site naturally remains bright white.
If you walk past the walls that extend around the cemetery, you will find numerous urn graves set into the walls. In many places there are beautifully designed grave slabs, some of which even show a picture of the person buried there.
In one area of the monumental cemetery of Bari, we came across something that I have never seen before in any cemetery. Several two-storey modern buildings have been erected here, which stand next to each other like a small housing estate and are even marked with numbers.
I discovered not only stairs in the building, but even a lift in one of them. Large windows let light into the houses, but there are no residents looking out. The houses contain only modern urn graves and small prayer rooms.
If you look through the windows from the outside, you can see three to four rows of urns in the walls on each floor, the top ones can only be reached with the help of ladders. I had never seen this way of burying people before. However, the offer seems to be well used, as even new buildings have been erected in the cemetery.
Via F.Crispi, 257
Monday-Saturday: 7-17 h
Sundays and public holidays: 7-13 h