One of the last sights for us to see in Pardubice was the crematorium, built in the early 1920’s and designed by the architect Pavel Janak. On a beautiful sunny day the other week we managed to pay it a visit, little did I realise it’s just around the corner from where I work.
The main building itself was closed on the day but there was plenty to see around about. We walked around the outside of the crematorium and were struck by the glass cabinets that formed the exterior of much of the building. Within them were contained urns and various mementos to the deceased and this style of burial we found quite fascinating and very personal. Further around the crematorium and graveyard area there were entire walls of these displays. It was like a social network for the dead, everybody hanging out together on a big wall. In Ireland we traditionally bury our dead in graves with simple gravestones which is respectful and a nice memorial to those we have lost. But these cabinets are far more personal, and in this age of precious little space, practical.
I know nothing of those people but seeing their images in front of their urns makes you wonder about their lives. What did they do? Where did they work? How did they die? What interesting stories could they tell? Call me a little morbid but I found this little community fascinating. I can just imagine them all talking amongst themselves once all the visitors have left.
We continued our stroll around the grounds and entered the more traditional graveyard aspect of the site. The graveyard is well looked after with fresh flowers on many of the graves and a large amount of people paying their respects to their loved ones. There’s always a great sense of peace in graveyards, a sense that everything is ok. The world outside may be a loud bustling whirlwind of people going about their lives, but within the walls of a graveyard it’s time for quiet reflection.
On our stroll around the graveyard, we came across the grave of famous Czech aviator Jan Kaspar who was born and died in Pardubice. Kaspar was the first Czech pilot and in 1911 took part in what was then the longest flight in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s nice to know that we live in a town steeped in history and with some rather important residents in the history of this lovely country.