Kozma Street Jewish Cemetery
More background info:
I haven’t been able to unearth much background info and history of this particular cemetery, except that it was established in 1891 and that it is the largest Jewish cemetery in Hungary
and in fact one of the largest in the world, with over 300,000 burials having taken place here.
There are some unusual tombs, some with flamboyant art nouveau designs, and also pictorial representations of people, plants and objects that you don’t normally find in Jewish cemeteries, which generally tend to be more abstract in their sepulchral art.
Kozma Street Cemetery is still in use for Budapest
’s Jewish community on a small scale. In 2011, human remains were found by the Danube when a Budapest bridge was being repaired and these were assumed to have been victims of the shootings of Jews by the Hungarian Arrow Cross Nazis in 1944/45 (see House of Terror
) – acts commemorated by the “Shoes by the Danube” monument near the parliament (see under Budapest
). So these remains were buried here at Kozma Street Cemetery in 2016.
But, due to the Holocaust
, and post-war emigration, maintenance of the cemetery has declined dramatically since WWII
. These days large parts of this vast graveyard have become totally overgrown. Efforts have been made to clear away some of the undergrowth and shrubbery, and the association “Friends of Budapest Jewish Cemetery” is campaigning for more such work and is asking for donations. They also offer individual grave cleaning services to relatives, as well as genealogical research services.
For dark tourists, the cemetery is also of interest for its Holocaust memorial garden.
Incidentally, in Hungarian, the cemetery is known as “Izraelita temetö”.
What there is to see: The first thing you see is the whitewashed large synagogue/cemetery chapel by the entrance. The inside, however, was not accessible when I was there.
Behind that building dozens of plots of graves extend over a vast area. I explored only less that a fifth of it, but came across several noteworthy instances of sepulchral art – and as so often with cemeteries, images say more than textual descriptions, so take a look at the photo gallery below
What I managed to miss, however, even though I was actually quite close (without knowing it at the time), was the Schmidl mausoleum, arguably the cemetery’s most flamboyant, as it is in an exuberant art nouveau style, covered in bright blue enamel and featuring three large flowery mosaics. I’ll have to go back one day and see with my own eyes and take photos).
From a dark perspective, the most significant part of the cemetery is the large Holocaust
memorial, located a short distance to the north-east of the synagogue/chapel.
Not far from the monument you can see densely packed rows of uniform small rounded gravestones that are allegedly markers of mass graves for victims of the Holocaust.
Unusual for a Jewish cemetery you can also see pieces of sepulchral art involving non-abstract depictions of people, plants and objects. But most gravestones are rather on the plain side.
The plots of graves near the entrance are the mostly densely packed, and largely cleared of shrubbery, undergrowth and trees, but the further east you go the more overgrown the cemetery becomes.
The cemetery is said to contain the graves of numerous famous artists, scientists, politicians and sportspeople, but none of the names I saw meant anything to me. What I did notice, though, was that there were quite a few gravestones featuring the given name Adolf, which I found somewhat ironic (but they were obviously all from before WWII
All in all
, this Jewish cemetery is less of a significant pilgrimage destination compared to its neighbour the New Municipal Cemetery
(which is important primarily for its plot 301 and the memorial to the victims of the crushed 1956 uprising), and it’s less remarkable for sepulchral art compared to Kerepesi Cemetery
, but it’s still worth a look when coming all the way out here.
on the eastern outskirts of Budapest
, adjacent to the north of the Christian New Municipal Cemetery
, on the name-giving Kozma Street; the entrance is at No. 6.
Google Maps locators:
Access and costs: far out, but quite easy to get to by tram; free
To get to the cemetery, take tram line 28 from its start at Blaha Lujza tér (the tram stop is at the top of Népszinház útca) all the way to its terminus, Izraelita Temetö, which is right by the entrance. The ride takes about 40 minutes. You can also get tram lines 28A or 37, which end by the adjacent Christian New Municipal Cemetery
, and walk the ca. half mile (700m) north along Kozma Street – or take bus line 68 for one stop.
Opening times: Sunday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in summer and to 3 p.m. only in winter; closed every Saturday and on Jewish Holidays (check these ahead of time to avoid disappointment – the Friends of Budapest Jewish Cemetery website has a link to a holiday schedule).
Time required: depends on how thoroughly you want to explore the cemetery. I spent only about half an hour there, but you could walk around for the best part of a day if you wish (and are a real cemetery aficionado).
Combinations with other dark destinations:
The Christian New Municipal Cemetery
is the most obvious combination, as it is directly adjacent. Its moving plot 301 memorial, however, is right in the back, a long walk from the entrance (see directions
Otherwise it’s back to central Budapest
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
Nothing out here – but see under Budapest
- Kozma Street Cemetery 01 - synagogue chapel by the entrance
- Kozma Street Cemetery 02 - Holocaust memorial complex
- Kozma Street Cemetery 03 - Holocaust memorial closer up
- Kozma Street Cemetery 04 - Mauthausen victims
- Kozma Street Cemetery 05 - Buchenwald victims
- Kozma Street Cemetery 06 - Auschwitz victims 1
- Kozma Street Cemetery 07 - Auschwitz victims 2
- Kozma Street Cemetery 08 - Auschwitz victims 3
- Kozma Street Cemetery 09 - dedication
- Kozma Street Cemetery 10 - grand mausoleums
- Kozma Street Cemetery 11 - densely packed rows of small grave stones
- Kozma Street Cemetery 12 - menorah
- Kozma Street Cemetery 13 - soaring menorah
- Kozma Street Cemetery 14 - cleared open field part
- Kozma Street Cemetery 15 - still totally overgrown part
- Kozma Street Cemetery 16 - little temple
- Kozma Street Cemetery 17 - tree growing out of another temple tomb
- Kozma Street Cemetery 18 - lost at sea
- Kozma Street Cemetery 19 - oh no
- Kozma Street Cemetery 20 - unfortunate first names
- Kozma Street Cemetery 21 - stylistic variety
- Kozma Street Cemetery 22 - decorative
- Kozma Street Cemetery 23 - Jugendstil
- Kozma Street Cemetery 24 - colourful detail