02 February 2011

Lychakiv Cemetery

This massive cemetery in L'viv rises up towards a high knoll, with a lot of convoluted, twisting paths between the plots and mausoleums. It has a strange and complex history, involving various wars and countries.
The cemetery has been around since 1787, was expanded twice and has tens of thousands of people interred in its tombs. Much of what is there today, however, is fairly new or has been restored by Polish residents of the city - the cemetery is important to Poles because the defenders of the city during the first world war are buried here. After this region was annexed by the USSR, many of the polish graves were desecrated and the military cemetery was turned into a truck depot. In 1975, the place was declared a historic landmark and rebuilding began - though not with the express approval of the Ukrainian government.
Many of the more modern graves are adorned with fancy statues, often likenesses of the people underneath. We named this one "the Tom Jones of Lychakiv."
There are parts of the necropolis that are decidedly run-down - which is a good thing for a graveyard, I think.
The place must be very lush in the summer; there are vines and long, dead grass everywhere - also a number of nice old trees. Right now, though, the only color was supplied by fake flowers and by the odd painted statue.
These graves stood at the summit of the hill, all made of metal and very similar. They are from one short period during 1916, which is two years before the attack that was commemorated in the destroyed military plot. We're not sure which battle these soldiers died in, but their graves were apparently spared by the Ukrainians.
We were mostly alone while we walked around, but as we were leaving we noticed a few more live bodies getting off the tram. There are a few flower shops set up near the entrance, though most of what we could see for sale was plastic.

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