Roman Catholic cemetery, Kalisz
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Roman Catholic cemetery, founded in 1807 and extended in 1841, positioned alongside the Augsburg Evangelical cemetery and near the Greek Catholic necropolis located across the street, bears testimony to the multicultural history of the city of Kalisz. All three cemeteries are located near the Wrocław Toll Gate, erected back in 1821. The Roman Catholic cemetery flows seamlessly into the Lutheran cemetery, with members of the same families, albeit of different confession, having been buried alongside one another. Initially located beyond the city limits, the cemetery serves as the municipal necropolis; before it was founded, the dead would be interred near churches, while the founders thereof tended to be buried inside the churches themselves.

History

In 1787, the burials in churchyards located in the chartered city finally ceased.

Works aimed at the foundation of a Catholic cemetery beyond the city limits were carried out in years 1803-1807.

In 1808, a brick wall was built around the cemetery by a man named Bernstein, a master of the masons’ guild. A gate was also erected at the time, although the appearance of this now-vanished structure remains unknown.

From 1827 onwards, the first monuments have started to appear in the graveyard.

In 1840, a morgue was erected near the cemetery, incorporating an apartment for the undertaker and the cemetery watchman; a new gate, designed in the Classicist style, was also built at that time.

In 1841, the cemetery was extended towards the west, with new burial plots and paths being designated.

In years 1871-1877, a brick wall replaced the former wooden fence in the western section of the cemetery.

In years 1913-1977, the cemetery remained closed; due to overcrowding of the graveyard, the only burials permitted during that period were those in family tombs as well as tombs made of brick.

During World War II the cemetery was ransacked, with all of the iron fences around the graves as well as other metal detailing being lost.

During the second half of the 20th century, simple tombs made of terrazzo were constructed in lieu of earthen graves.

The most valuable headstones and monuments in the cemetery were renovated after 1990.

Description

Kalisz is the oldest city in Poland, mentioned in the works of Claudius Ptolemy written in the second half of the 2nd century, located at the eastern edge of the Kalisz Upland, by the Prosna river. The first traces of human habitation here date back to the 8th century B.C., with the first fortified settlement in Zawodzie having been built back in the 10th century. The famous amber trial led through the city of Kalisz. The new city of Kalisz was founded on its current site by duke Bolesław the Pious around the year 1257. The city was founded at the junction of crucial trading routes and has always been the second-most significant city in Greater Poland, with only Poznań surpassing it in terms of both importance and size.

Initially, the dead would be buried in churchyard cemeteries within the limits of the chartered city as well as in the Zawodzie district and around the churches in the neighbouring villages. The development of the city as well as public health considerations necessitated the establishment of a municipal cemetery that would be located beyond the city limits.

The new cemetery was established on the land forming part of the Dobrzec Mały village, bordering on the Evangelical cemetery from the north-east and framed by the slopes of the nearby hill - commonly referred to as “terraces”, from the north-west and the south-east. The cemetery occupied a quadrangular area approximating the shape of a square, with the entrance and the main gate accessible from the nearby road towards Wrocław, known today as Górnośląska street. The cemetery site was divided into four asymmetrical burial plots, each of a different size. The paths between the individual burial plots have been arranged in a Latin cross layout, at a slight angle vis-a-vis the borders of the cemetery. This layout of both the paths and the burial plots resulted from the shape of the terrain.

During the initial period of existence of the cemetery, apart from the deceased from various parishes in Kalisz, a group of soldiers of Napoleon’s army (participants of the march towards Moscow) were buried here in 1813; before their deaths, these soldiers received treatment at an infirmary in the monastery of the Observant friars. In the first years of the graveyard’s existence, those who died a suicidal death would be buried beyond the walls of the cemetery. From 1831 onwards, however, they were interred at the choleric cemetery in Tyniec, along with deceased inmates of the city prison. In the 1820s and the 1830s, most sepulchres were earthen graves with simple wooden crosses; sometimes, epitaph plaques would also be placed on the cemetery wall. In the south-eastern corner of the cemetery stands the oldest of all surviving monuments, bearing a plaque from 1827; this pyramid-shaped tomb is the final resting place of Stanisław Broszkowski, a major in the Polish armed forces.

The surface area of the Roman Catholic cemetery is 1.8530 hectares. Despite its regular shape and layout of the paths, one may easily get lost among the maze of gravestones. The cemetery was designed on polygonal plan the shape of which approximates that of a triangle, divided into four quadrangular burial plots with two longitudinal alleys, with the main alley, slightly arched in shape, being positioned at the east-west axis; these alleys are supplemented by a number of transverse paths. The cemetery also features a diverse collection of old trees - elms (which are about 120 years old by now), lindens, chestnuts, maples and cedars. The main gate, designed in the Classicist style, can be found in the eastern part of the cemetery and is accessible from Górnośląska street. The former undertaker’s house, also designed in the Classicist style, can be found near the western gate. The cemetery wall is adorned with numerous epitaph plaques dating back to the second half of the 19th century; these are preceded by later tombs from the late 19th century and the early 20th century, positioned alongside the wall; most of these tombs exhibit eclectic or Neoclassical forms. The main alley is lined with sepulchral chapels. The cemetery serves as the final resting place of the most eminent Catholic citizens of the city of Kalisz who lived here in the 19th and 20th centuries. Protestant citizens, on the other hand, were buried on the Augsburg Evangelical cemetery located right next to the Catholic one.

The site is accessible to visitors during the opening hours of the cemetery. The cemetery remains the property of the St Nicholas parish in Kalisz. The parish office is located at 5 Kanonicka street (phone number: 62 7573919).

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 17-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Anders P., Województwo kaliskie, szkic monograficzny, Poznań 1983.
  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Kościelniak W., Kronika miasta Kalisza, Kalisz 1989.
  • Dzieje Kalisza, Rusiński Władysław (red), Poznań 1977.
  • Dziubek A., Cmentarz majkowski w Kaliszu, [w:] Rocznik Kaliski, t. XXXV, s. 103-124, Kalisz 2009.
  • Małyszko S., Zabytkowe cmentarze przy rogatce w Kaliszu, Kalisz 2003.

General information

  • Type: Roman Catholic cemetery
  • Chronology: 1803-1807
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Górnośląska , Kalisz
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district Kalisz, commune Kalisz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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