Continuing on my post about the First Cemetery of Athens for Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.
One enters this cemetery through an imposing and rather modern looking gateway, flanked by two angels in wrought iron work. The dome of the Cemetery Church of St Theodore can be seen to the left. This is the largest of three churches in the cemetery. There is also the smaller chapel of St Lazarus and the Catholic chapel.
While we were visiting, we chanced upon a funeral. Space is at a premium in this particular cemetery, and generally only very famous people or family members with existing family mausolea can be interred here.
Traditionally, funeral wreaths are only given by close relatives and friends, and these wreaths are placed outside the house with the coffin lid, while the overnight wake with the open coffin is held in the house of the deceased. The wreaths are then taken to the cemetery with the coffin.
The open coffin is placed at the front of the church at the cemetery. Those friends who have not visited the home file past and offer their condolences to the family before kissing the forehead of the deceased and laying flowers across the coffin. After the church requiem liturgy finishes, the coffin is sealed and everyone moves out to the cemetery for the burial. The funeral arrangements are looked after by staff of the funeral parlour, who in Greek are called 'κοράκια' (korákia = 'crows') as they normally dress in black suits.
Koliva (also transliterated Kollyva) is a dish of boiled wheat, chopped parsley, ground roasted chick peas, pomegranate grains and sugar, which is used liturgically in the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches at funerals and memorial services. This ritual food is blessed after the memorial Divine Liturgy performed at various intervals after a death; after the funeral; during mnemosyna - memorial services; on the first Friday of the Great Lent. It can be decorated very elaborately with icing sugar and dragées. Here it is seen in a specialist shop in Anapáfseos St ('Repose St') leading to the Cemetery.
Other specialist shops line this approach to the cemetery and offer funerary goods for sale, including lanterns, oil lamps for graves, statuary, gravestones and memorial plaques for graves illustrated here. The photographic portraits of the deceased are special seritypes on porcelain.
And now some more photos of the graves and mausolea at the cemetery. Here is the mausoleum of the Mavromihalis Family.
An ossuary is a chest, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first buried in a temporary grave, then after some years the skeletal remains are removed and placed in an ossuary. The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary means that it is possible to store the remains of many more people in a single tomb than if the original coffins were left as is. One can see the ossuary of the this cemetery in the middle of the photo.
The tombs of A.Ph. Papadakis and P.P Demestichas.
A sphinx flanking the mausoleum of Adamantios Koraïs (1748 – 1833), a famous man of letters.