I was driving down the beautiful lower Alps in Austria (actually my friend was driving, I was taking pictures) when my friend suggested me of a really unique place that exists in these part of the mountains : A graveyard just for mountaineers!
Before I get into that, let me tell you something about my friend. He is a vet, in his late 50s, who lives with his partner in Baden, Austria. I met them at Delhi airport when I was leaving for Europe for the first time in my life for starting my PhD, and we had same flight to Vienna. The flight was obviously delayed (thanks Air India), so we started talking and became friends. After reaching Vienna, we exchanged numbers, and stayed in touch since then. They are a really cute couple, together for 25 years, who travel the world together, and have been to sooo many countries! They love hiking and mountaineering, and have invited me on such trips before. Previous time, we went for a mountain-trekking, and they showed me their area as well. Baden is a beautiful small town famous for musicians and thermal baths. Beethoven spent his last days here, and you can even visit his house there where he wrote his final famous symphonies. Oh, how we meet people, and how we build close connections!
You can check my mountain video from that trip here on my Youtube channel:
So this time when they invited me, I was sure I am going to have a lot of fun again! We went driving through the mountains, seeing the greenest and bluest of lakes, of which Austria is famous for. Our goal was to reach Western Austria, to Salzkammergut area, where they have Hallstadt, Salzburg, etc. That's where we came across this beautiful and unique cemetery in the Styrian mountains.
Frankly, I don't know the history about it (you can Google), but the cemetery was really beautiful. The oldest graves I found there was from 1800s, so I am guessing it is atleast 200 years old. Here, mountaineers who have faced accidents while trekking, climbing, and hiking are laid to rest. The stories on the tombstones tell the reasons being caught by bad weather and rockfalls.
The centerpiece here is taken by the church which is surrounded by all the graves. It looked quite simple when compared to the regal churches closeby in Vienna, but it had its own charm. Some very minute details here and there, and beautiful oil paintings, plus the colors on the ceilings were quite beautiful. My favorite painting was the one with beefed up Jesus - maybe a mountaineer version of him with muscles?
Church in the cemetery
Coming out from the church, on its left side is where you can see the old graves. The tombstones were basically just stones, and plants were going freely on the graves. Nature had accepted its lovers in her arms, that's how it looked like.
Coming out of this place, I researched a bit more about this cemetery and found a quote by H. Walter describing this wonderful sight, “Thousands of people from all over the world visit this cemetery. Here, in this place of sadness and fame, they feel alive and commemorate the dead.”
Truly, there cannot be a better heavenly place to honor such bravehearts, where these adventurous souls can rest and inspire future generations of explorers.