Groblje Jasenice, Rovanjska, Croatia

Groblje is the Croatian word for cemetery. Basic information, admittedly, but it helps to know these things if you’re cemeteries are your thing. The most idyllic last resting place I’ve seen till now has been in Malta. The Msida Bastion Garden of Rest has some incredible views of the sea but the little coastal cemetery in Rovanjska gives it a run for its money.

Were I to be buried, I’d like to be within sniffing distance of salt air and the sound of the ocean. This would be perfect.

The graves seem to be piled in on top of each other. There are no defined pathways and oftentimes you have to climb over one grave to get to another. Most were flowered, so climbing isn’t frowned upon. Those interred must be used to people walking on their graves.

It was more like a portrait gallery than a cemetery in some ways. I still remember that small Italian cemetery in the Alps where I first saw photos on gravestones. I was torn then between loving it and finding it all a tad too strange. Dithering about what photo to use on a mortuary card seems trivial compared to choosing one for a gravestone. Given the choice, I’d prefer to read the story than see the picture.

Something else I don’t often see is the use of an open book to represent life. The combination of books and photos was quite poetic.

Dawn, don’t wake them (up) early; dear God show mercy on them.

The Crkva Sv Jurja (Church of St George) is described as ‘a pearl of old Croatian sacral architecture’. Dating back to as early as the ninth century, it was built as a sundial and a calendar. Openings in the dome are positioned to show the exact time. Imagine, a thousand years ago, they were doing things like this with astronomy and maths without the help of technology.

The most imposing gravestone was that of the Rončević family. A Croatian Wikipedia page tells me that this is the 213th most popular family name in the country. It goes to on list where you can find Rončevićs at home and abroad. A plus side of technology.

I’d noticed after we crossed the border that the roadside statues were bedecked with larger-than-life rosary beads. The same here. Something else I’ve not seen before. Or at least, something I’ve not registered.

There’s a gorgeous beach within metres of the cemetery so you can pay your respects, make the dead feel remembered, and then take a dip. A perfect combination in my world.






@ 2024 Mary Murphy