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A Very Merry Cemetery

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One of the most memorable sights in Romania is the Merry (as in "joyful") Cemetery. I've enjoyed a variety of graveyards throughout Europe. But this one, in Maramureș, is really a one of a kind. Here's how we described it in our script:

Just up the road is the Merry -- as in joyful -- Cemetery. In 1935, a local woodcarver -- inspired by a long-forgotten tradition -- began filling this cemetery with a forest of vivid memorials. Each one comes with a whimsical poem and a painting of the departed doing something he or she loved.

Even if you can't read the poems, the images speak volumes: weaver ... loved bikes ... television repairman ... soldier ... hit by a car ... struck by lightning ... nagging mother-in-law.

It's a poignant celebration of each individual's life, a chronicle of village history, and an irreverent raspberry in the face of death. And it's all painted a cheery blue to match the heavens where the souls are headed.

This is Day 58 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at

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