Cemetery of St. Marx in Austria

August 20, 2012 by

Free Things to Do, Sightseeing

Cemetery of St Marx. Photo courtesy of nonanet via Flickr.

Cemetery of St Marx. Photo courtesy of nonanet via Flickr.

Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) is one of the most famous in Europe (containing as it does a full two million more dead than Paris’s Père Lachaise), and the Jewish cemetery in Währing may be one of the most macabre (following the Holocaust, the grounds have fallen into such a disgraceful state of disrepair that you have to sign a liability waver just to enter the premises). For sheer mystery, history and morbid touristic delight, the Cemetery of St. Marx in the Landstraße district of Vienna is impossible to beat.

St. Marx was opened during the 18th century in response to a peculiarly draconian edict from Emperor Joseph II. The proclamation decreed that no bodies be buried within the city’s outer walls, necessitating a new burial ground. This first part is sensible enough, but the second part, which prohibits the use of embalming procedures or coffins, resulted in no less a personage than Mozart being interred in St. Marx in an unmarked, mass grave (a popular myth has it that this fate was the result of the great composure’s penury, but it is not so).

Though it was closed in 1874 and soon fell into a state of decay, St. Marx underwent historic preservation in 1937 and was reopened to the public. Though the precise site of Mozart’s burial remains a mystery, a memorial stands on the grounds (sculpted in 1950 by Viennese sculptor Florian Josephu-Drouot) that honors his memory and the memory of other famous musicians and composers who were slaid to rest in the cemetery.

-John Reality

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