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Posts tagged ‘Cemetery’

Discovering Mallorca: Palma’s secret city

Regular readers of The Daily Norm will remember that I am utterly captivated by the charms of a cemetery. It’s not a morbid fascination – far from it. For me, cemeteries are amongst the most beautiful and thought-provoking places you can visit. Somewhere to escape the noise of life, to reflect on the emotional strength of people’s devotion to their families, and to admire some of the most startling sculptures you are likely to see in a small compact space. I have been to many cemeteries in my time, not least here in Spain where the mix of sunshine strained through shady cypress trees is particularly poetic. But if the cemeteries I have seen here before were works of poetry, the municipal cemetery in Palma de Mallorca was nothing short of a masterpiece of theatre.

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Located close to the outer ring road, the cemetery is not exactly walkable from the centre of town, and as a result, it was not until now, with a hire care at our disposal, that we were able to pass by. But this cemetery was worth the wait. Never in all my life have I ever seen such a vast collection of intricately crafted, magnificently devotional sculpture and stunning architecture in such a compact space. The cemetery is probably the biggest I have ever been in, but it is also amongst the most crowded, and row after row and row after row of tombstones are loaded not with simple flat graves, but elegantly and theatrically decorated with stone crosses, angels and other elaborate sculptures so that the result is a veritable forest of ancient stone.

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And most magnificently of all are the series of lavish little side chapels which line the perimeters of the cemetery. Utterly elaborate, constructed in a number of styles from baroque to classical and even 20th century modernist, this collection of buildings looks like an ancient empire, resembling the kind of spectacle which may have been found when entering a roman forum lined with temples.

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But that was not all. For beneath ground level, a secret staircase led down into what was probably the most spectacular aspect of the whole cemetery – a vast double horseshoe-shaped catacomb itself lined with tombs from floor to ceiling, flooded with light from holes in the ceiling, and slowly sprinkled with dust gently falling in the rays of sunshine. It was like something from Indiana Jones, and with road names engraved in latin we felt like we have been catapulted centuries back to an ancient civilisation.

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It was only when we emerged back into the heat of the Mallorca day, the sounds of the nearby ring-road resounding nearby, that we realised we had just found Palma’s secret city.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

A weekend in Fornalutx (Part 2): Cemetery and Citrus Trees

The area of Soller is famous for its citrus groves. It must be something to do with the lush fertile slopes of the vast mountain scenery which allows this area to become punctuated by lemons and oranges, and the result is not only a vast bounty of citrus based products made in the region every year, but a landscape which is made stunning by the perfume of orange and lemon blossom and by a palette of yellow and orange fruit. The little nearby village of Fornalutx is no exception in the citrus stakes, and if there was one aspect of the little mountainous haven that I adored above all others, it was the orange trees which were so bounteous in the surrounding landscapes, and whose blossom filled the air with its exquisite spring perfume.

The stunning citrus scenery surrounding Fornalutx

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It was on a walk amongst the orange groves on the afternoon of our arrival in Fornalutx that my partner and I discovered what has to be my second favourite aspect of the town: a tiny cemetery set atop an outermost hill of the city, overlooking its sea of terracotta roofs and surrounding mountainous landscape. Of all the places that could be a person’s final resting place, this must surely be one of the best. Perfectly appointed, beautifully symmetrical with a central chapel flanked by two robust cyprus trees, and with decorative gravestones surrounded by palms and colourful flowers, this place of rest made for a super-tranquil utterly beautiful place of contemplation even for us living.

The tiny cemetery of Fornalutx

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Finding inspiration from Marbella’s final resting place

There’s something inherently beautiful about a cemetery. It’s not just the peace and quiet, which is of course an inevitable feature of every cemetery or graveyard, but the tangible demonstration of human emotion shown by the care taken by those living for the memories of their beloved dead. This can be seen through the wording of a grave, through the flowers carefully laid alongside it, and through the regular cleaning of the stone with as much care as would be taken for a feature of a living household. There is also something innately civilised about caring for the dead and paying homage to the past, not least because it can make us more appreciative of our life and the lives of others still around us.

While I do like an English graveyard, headstones tilting in all directions and covered in moss and decay, my favourite type of cemetery is a Spanish cemetery, whose tranquil atmosphere is more than embellished by the regular presence of sunshine filtering through the large dark cypress trees which are a regular inhabitant of such places. But I also love how seriously Spanish society takes its dead, and whenever I take a stroll in Marbella’s cemetery in Southern Spain, I am always touched by the number of locals visiting their family graves, with rubber gloves and cleaning products to hand, ensuring that all looks clean and well maintained. It’s a bit like the beginning scene from Pedro Almodovar’s brilliant film, Volver, when a visit to the family grave is both a family tradition and a time to gather and reminisce.

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Of course it will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that my overriding reasons for visiting a Spanish cemetery are artistic ones, and Marbella’s has more than once inspired me to take many a photograph of the scene. For in the sheer volume of marble fronted graves, both within private family mausoleums and piled up on top of one another like bookshelves in neat rows, these graves make for an excellent photographic subject, not least because of the variety and dedications, flowers, family memorabilia and photos. And on top of all of that, the sunshine is always on hand to provide warmth to the photographs and plenty of contrast between light and shade.

So here are the photos I took on my recent stroll around Marbella’s cemetery. Hopefully like me you will see the inherent beauty of the place, which far from being morbid, is a place of tranquillity, devotion and hope.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.