In the Bay of Kvarner, one will find the Croatian port of Rijeka. A town of distinctive vibe and atmosphere, it is an important source of nation’s alternative culture. A lot of influential musicians, bands and theater artists come from this settlement. However, not many people know that this naval city has a unique feature, which deals with animals. You see, Rijeka Pet Cemetery is one of the oldest in Europe, surpassed only by those in Paris and London.
The cemetery is actually located in the village of Lukovisca, in close proximity of the aforementioned coastal town. Not much is known about its founding, but it is believed that first graves were made in 1903. They belonged to dogs of local huntsman. As this profession requires a strong bond between humans and canines, the owners of dogs probably wanted a way to cherish memories they had with their four-legged colleagues. Thus, Rijeka pet cemetery came to existence.
Soon, other people begun to bury their pet remains onsite. The news has spread over Austro-Hungarian Empire, of which Croatia was a part in early 20th century. People from all over the gigantic state brought the remains of their pets for burial. Italians also begun to use the graveyard, proven by several tombstones with inscriptions in their language.
Unfortunately, the precise number of beings buried on Rijeka Pet Cemetery is unknown. There are 60 tombs, but it is possible several animals inhabit a single grave. And although some suspect that even horses found their final resting place near Rijeka, the majority of deceased inhabitants are dogs, cats, rabbits and small birds.
Currently, Rijeka pet cemetery is not accepting new remains. In 2004, a law passed by Croatian government has forbid burial of animal bodies in the ground. This was done to counter the illegal burials, which posed a health danger. Due to law’s lack of clarity, the graveyard in Kvarner couldn’t continue to work. Animal lovers across Croatia are making pressure on politicians to change the ruling, and allow the site to work again.
Despite this fact, the graves of pets long gone are not neglected. Owners of the animals which were buried before 2004 are constantly visiting the final resting places of their deceased pals, decorating them with flowers and statues. Here and there, you can even see a rubber toy, tenderly left on the stone tablet.
Rijeka pet cemetery proves that animals were always loved by town’s residents. And knowing the value of the site for Rijeka history, it is possible the graveyard will receive the status of cultural inheritance in near future.
Check out what the place looks like in the small photo gallery below: