In an old cemetery in Vienna for the victims of the Donau river, these nameless dead ones rest in one of the most haunted places in Friedhof der Namenlosen.
Tourism in graveyards is not an uncommon thing. Most people seek out the gravestones of famous names we still remember. And in Vienna, tourists seek out names like Beethoven, Brahm and Strauss. But there is a place to visit for those who bear no name on their black iron crosses. The inscription says only Namenlos (nameless). Because in the Friedhof Der Namenlosen, the cemetery of the nameless, the people put in the ground there have no names.
It is frequently cited as one of the more haunted places in Europe, which is saying a lot and several paranormal investigators insist that the place is indeed haunted. However, the story behind the cemetery is more than not a sad one rather than a scary one.
The Drowned in Danube
Hidden away from the classy and timeless city of Vienna, an industrial site with Silos and warehouses surrounding the place, there is a graveyard of the victims claimed by the Danube river that bares no name, and those killed by their own hand and therefore turned away from the catholic burial grounds like the Vienna’s Central Cemetery, Zentralfriedhof.
The cemetery opened in 1840 to be a place for the dead that had no family claiming their bodies to give them a final resting place. Before building around the river changed its current, drowned people used to wash ashore near this cemetery. Up until 1900, no less than 478 nameless bodies were buried in this place. Most drowned in the Danube or by suicide.
Today, the nameless are buried together with the people in the Central Cemetery, but the graves that are already there are taken care of and remembered. Tourists and passersby leave small gifts and flowers for the graves that would otherwise be left alone with no family and friends to visit them.
Remembering the Nameless
Every year on All Saint’s Day there is a small ceremony by the local fishermen to the unknown dead. They float a raft down the Danube, decorated with flowers, wreaths and with a commemorative writing both in German, Hungarian and Slovak.
The raft drifts down the river to bands playing and follows the current of the river, just like the nameless first came to the place. And on the raft it is written with a request to gently push the raft onwards if it gets stuck on the riverbank.
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