Lipowa Cemetary, Lublin, Poland
Ulica Lipowa Cemetary, Lublin, Poland
History of Cemetary
Catholic Part
Orthodox Part
Other Faiths
 All Saints/All Souls Days
Some People Buried
Changing Fashions in Grave Architecture - This is a separate page showing the changes in monument architecture in Polish Christian cemetaries, and includes lots of pictures of graves from the 19th to 21st century!

History of the Cemetary

Statue tableauThis cemetary is mainly Catholic, but there are parts reserved for Orthodox, Protestants and athiests, as well as many memorials to past rebellions, war dead etc as well as significant people from Lublin's history. The cemetary was established in 1809 with the first burials occuring in 1811 and is now, apart from the Orthodox part, almost full. In the past it had been the custom to rent sites and when the rental payments ceased, to rent the sites to other people. However, now you buy the rights to the site and burials now are just a case of filling up present tombs. In the 1980's, the Orthodox priest raised some money by selling off the now largely derelict orthodox part of the cemetary to catholics. To cope with those not lucky enough to have bought a space in the most beautiful cemetary in the ever expanding Lublin, a new cemetary was opened on the outskirts of the city on a green field site.
Before the Lipowa cemetary was opened, city people were either buried in churchyards or in tombs in the church itself, if they could afford it. In 1728, the were suggestions among priests that it was not healthy to bury people so close to churches in the city. However, people who lived in the city did not want to be buried outside the city borders as up until then that had been were the poor, victims of epidemics, actors, suicides, convicted criminals and women who died during labour (and was called a dogs burial). People strongly associated being buried near a church as part of the Christian faith, and to be buried far from a church was to be taken away from his faith. It was the custom to carry the coffin very slowly on peoples shoulders, but what is now Lipowa street was at the time just a muddy lane, and almost impassable in the spring thaw.
In 1792, the police demanded that all funerals should be carried beyond the city borders. Some land was bought and preparations made to make it a cemetary. When the cemetary was finally opened in 1809, still no one was prepared to be buried there until The Masons began burying their dead there in 1811. Sometime after this, the churchyards in the city were closed and the bodies reinterred in Lipowa and a monument erected.
19th century grave picture
By 1900, there were 50 000 people buried there, but only some 3% had some permanent grave with a monument.
The cemetary was repeatedly expanded until the 1920's. At this point, Lublin began to expand around the cemetary. In 1932, a second cemetary was opened at Unicka Street, and after this, the Lipowa began to be a very exclusive cemetary.
The Lipowa cemetary is divided into lots with wide paths between each lot, water supplies and rubbish skips at regular intervals to assist in the cleaning of graves, watering of flowers and disposal of used lamps. There are so many mature trees that from a distance it more resembles a large wood than a cemetary. Outside each of the entrances there are to be found candle and flower sellers throughout the year. Usually this amounts to one stall or kiosk at each of the small entrances and about half a dozen at the main entrance on Lipowa street. However, for All Saints/All Souls at the end of October/beginning of November for about a week it is mayhem as dozens and dozens of temporary stalls open to sell candles and flowers to the thousands of catholics who come to clean and decorate the families graves. To visit a cemetary in Poland at this time of the year is to see an amazing sight as the paths are as busy as a town high street on a saturday morning. the crowds do not dissapear at night as people come back to see the thousands of candles and coloured lamps burning there. As there is anywhere between 1 and about 15 candles/lamps to a grave and Lipowa must have 20-30 000 closely packed graves.....  . People also come to put candles in front of the monuments, and popular ones like the one commemorating the November Uprising can have hundreds of candles at any one time.

The Catholic Cemetary (Cmentarz Rzymsko-Katolicki)

This is by far the largest part of the cemetary and is so full of stone graves, crosses etc, that it can be difficult to get to some of the graves in the centre of each lot.
Most graves consist of a stone slab with a headstone or cross. Some have monuments of angels or small towers and some are quite large.
View of Graves
Neo-Gothic grave monument

All Saints/All Souls Days

All Saints Day on the 1st of November and All Souls Day on the 2nd of November are an important part of the Roman Catholic calendar with regard to cemetaries. At this point I will note that those of the Orthodox faith have a similar date in the early spring, where they put food and candles on the graves, but I am not familiar with the faith beyond knowing that.
The most probable history of these 2 days date back to pre-christian times and the rites related with the Autumn (Fall) and Spring solstices (the points midway between the longest and shortest days of the year). The spring solstice is usually connected with birth and growth, while the Autumn (Fall) solstice with that of death. The root of Halloween and All Saints are coneected, but this is not surprising as the early Christians were adept at incorporating parts of pre-christian faith into christianity (Northern European tree worship has found its way into our homes at Christmas time through German customs, in the form of the Christmas tree). Anyway, whatever the history, it is the custom in Poland for Christians to maintain their family graves, with a special effort at All Saints/All Souls, and to a lesser extent at Christmas, Easter, birthdays of the deceased, name days of the saints who shared the same christian name with the deceased, anniversaries of death etc. All Saints/All Souls is the one day in which people will try and get back to their ancestoral land and try and visit as many graves as possible, usually organising within the family who goes to what cemetary so that no one gets forgotten. During the days and nights of the holiday itself, people try to get around and visit as many of the graves as they can, leaving at least one candle on each.
One corner of the flower (kwiat) and candle (znicze) market outside the cemetary.
The graves themselves are usually tombs, holes dug in the ground with a 'stone' construction on the top, the top slab of which is removable so that the next coffin can be dropped in on top of the last one until the grave is full. Maintenance of the grave is done by the family. In most cemetaries you do not get a patch of land which is yours forever (or until some archeoligist comes along in 2000 years time!), but you rent the space for up to 40 years and then your bones are put in the bone store. The exceptions to this are becoming famous enough that your grave becomes a sort of national memorial, or the cemetary closing (no more people of that faith/the local town/city has now enclosed the cemetary/etc). Hence, if you have enough descendents, and your position in the cemetary remains, then your grave remains in good condition and repairs carried out as required. If your family dies out, or go abroad, then your grave decays unless some kind soul or charity at least gives it at least some bare maintenance. However, at least at All Saints/All Souls someone will stop by and put a candle on your grave if there is no family to do so - usually it is by people who look after graves nearby.
The first step of grave preparation is to wash down the stone and brush off any build up of earth or dead leaves. This is not too difficult a task as most graves are raised about 12-18" above the surrounding land. Moving around the grave, or even getting to it if it is not close to the path is often quite difficult as the graves can be very close together in places. Water for cleaning is usually available at pumps or taps dotted around the cemetary. Of course, and old flowers, coniferous branches or rings, and old candle lamps are cleared away and old wax scraped from the stone.
A selection of znicze on just one stand of many. In this picture you can see both plastic and glass lamps, with some bare candles on the right hand edge of the picture.
Flower arrangements kept on balconies are often bought several days before they are needed, and then kept on balconies to keep them from drying out until they are needed. They are arranged on the grave along with the candles (znicze) and the candles lit. Once the grave is prepared and prayers made (for those not of the Catholic faith, it is well to remember that most souls are stuck in purgatory and prayers to them help shorten their time there) then it is time to go and visit the other family graves and put candles on those as well.
As there are so many people travelling to cemetaries, the police are out in force directing the traffic, and in Lublin there are special bus services to and between the cemetaries to help people get around. Anyway, here are the pictures:
When you have gone round the stalls and decided what you want, now is the time to buy. At the nearest edge of the table are candles in plain translucent red plastic containers. Also available are those small candles which are often used in night lights, these are the cheapest and are put on the national memorials in large quantities. Some people, who have a lot of graves to visit, often by lamps in packs of 4, 8, 10 etc.
This is the central path through Unicka street cemetary, and you can see just how many people there are.
People passing between the 2 halves of Unicka street cemetary.
The grave was cleaned a few days before, now the flowers are on and the candles are lit, now for a final brush over.
This is about miday on All Souls Day. By the same time the next day, there were about 100% more flowers and far more candles.
One small part of the Unicka cemetary.
In the military part of the Unicka cemetary, with candles at the monument in memory of the people imprisoned in Lublin castle and later killed.
Candles and flowers on a grave.
A very small part of the Lipowa street cemetary.
Open and closed candle lamps on a family grave.
A range of lamps brought at different times by different members of a family
Another family grave
Part of the 1863 Uprising memorial.
Hundreds of small lamps on the Lipowa cemetary Lublin castle memorial.
Several family graves in the Lipowa street cemetary
Another part of the Lipowa street cemetary

The Orthodox Cemetary

During the time when this part of Poland was annexed as part of the Russian empire, there was a significant number of people living here of the Orthodox faith. This part of the cemetary was opened in the third quarter of the 19th century. There were two churches and a chapel within Lipowa cemetary itself. Since the re-establishment of Poland after the first world war, the number of people of the orthodox faith have dwindled and now this part of the cemetary is largely derelict. The orthodox chapel, although little used, is a beautiful example and is built in a combination of yellow and red brick. In comparison, the catholic chapel seems little more than functional in it's stained grey plaster.
Decoration of graves in the orthodox calender occurs in the spring, and people decorate the graves with flowers, candles and food.
Orthodox Church

Other Parts of the Cemetary

A unique feature of Lipowa cemetary in comparison to other Polish cemetaries was that, after the Protestants received part of the cemetary for them selves in the third quarter of the 19th century, an area was set aside between the protestant and catholic areas for the burial of members of mixed marriages.

During the communist times many people who were members of the communist party were buried in simple graves with no crosses, as religion was rather heavily frowned upon.
One part is devoted to soviet soldiers who died during the second world war and there is also a monument consisting of a stone helmet mounted on a small mound and which has a space underneath it large enough for about 20 people.

A Selection of Names at Lipowa

Below is a selction of names of people buried at Lipowa, made from a list of notable local people. I have a booklet giving information on each, contact me at the address at the bottom of the page.

Araszkiewicz, Baranowski, Baranowski, Barszczewski, Barwicki, Bechczyc-Rudnicka, Bieczyński, Bieliński, Bieliński, Bielski, Biernacki, Bogdanowicz, Brankiewicz, Bryk, Chmielarczyk, Chmielewski, Chromiński, Czechowicz, Czerwmski, Czugała, Czyżowa, Dederko, Doliński, Frankowski, Frenkiel-Ossowska, Głowacki, Gostkowski, Gralewski, Grotowski, Gryga, Halban, Jaczewski, Jankowski, Jaworowska, Jaworowski, Jurgo, Kędzierski, Kietlicz-Rayski, Klepacki, Korsak, Kossakowska, Kozłowski, Kozyrski, Krasnopolska, Kunicki, Kurzątkowski, Kwapiszewska, Kwiatkowski, Laśkiewicz, Leszczyński, Liebhart, Lingenau, Litwiniuk, Lubieniecki, Łopaciński, Łosakiewicz, Magierska, Magierski, Malewski, Malicki, Malm, Marciniak, Markiewicz, Mazurkiewicz, Mędrkiewicz, Miemowski, Mincel, Modrzewska, Mokrski, Ostrołęcki, Pajdowski, Parczyński, Plewiński, Przanowski, Puławski, Raabe, Radziszewski, Ronikier, Rodakiewicz, Rotkel, Rybczyk, Sękowski, Sobolewska, Stein, Stelmasiak, Strąkowski, Suligowski, Szaniawski, Szibicher, Ściegienny, Śląska, Śląski, Świeży, Timme, Torończyk, Trawiński, Trojanowski, Uhorczak, Urmowski, WadowskiJan, Waleszyński, Wasilkowski, Wiercieński, Włodziński, Wnorowski, Woliński, Wolski, Wyszyński, Voit, Zajączkowski, Zalewski, Zdzitowiecki, Ziemecki, Ziółkowski, Żywczyński

As I receive requests for information, I will add the translations here:

Gralewski, Wacław 1900-1972.
Author, journalist, involved in cutural activities, officer in the AK during WW2 (AK was the underground army under the control of the Polish government in London). Established and co-edited a literary magazine 'Reflektor' between the wars and was a journalist for the newspaper 'Ekspres Lubelski'. He wrote articles about current affairs, short stories and poems. After the war he was a member of the war crimes commision. Helped to establish a writers union in Lublin.


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