The article is dedicated to the role and significance of urban cemeteries (primarily European) in Western culture in the last two centuries. This new form of burial places was formed in Europe circa 1750-1830. It was a consequence of the process of re-organisation of cities and the rationalisation of urban space. The issue of cemeteries was related to hygiene, but also public order disturbances. In the 19th century, cemeteries became a place of the death cult. This century also observed the phenomenon of exaltation about remembrance and a fascination with death, which related to the Romanticism and post-Romanticism sensitivity. The model of the park cemetery (rural cemeteries, Parkfriedhöfe) became popular in the 19th century. In the 19th century almost each European city had its City of the Dead, a district with “houses of the dead”. This was the time of impressive family tombs, lavishly decorated and frequently designed by the best architects. A tomb also became a place of rest of members of national community, citizen of the national state. Apology of the “great deceased” also covered scientists, inventors and artists. Death also began to be used for citizens’ educational purposes - by demonstrating the glorious past of the nation. Cemeteries becomes a collective monument inspiring patriotic feelings, a demonstration of the community, of the nation, as for example Père-Lachaise, the First Cemetery in Athens and Glasgow Necropolis. The urban cemetery became an important, and sometimes the only, place of manifesting national identity and ethnical separation from the dominating group, for example Kerepesi in Budapest (1847) and Mirogoj in Zagreb (1876).
In the 20th century, necropolis did not return to the city centres. The significance of cemeteries also decreased. They ceased to fulfil their previous functions, however they remains places of remembrance, “chronicles of cities”. This degradation was a consequence of cultural changes that took place in the middle of the last century in the Western world. Western man, excluding the simulative reality of media, had less contact with death. This also refers to urban space and places of consumption. For more than a decade, a more noticeable search for a space for the dead is observed in contemporary metropolises. The existing necropolis are overflowing. Many are closed due to limited expansion possibilities. The prices of long-term concessions are also growing. The place of remembering the dead, cult of ancestors is endangered. The last two International Biennales of Contemporary Architecture in Venice demonstrated designs that tackle this problem, such as the design of the “Last house” from the South Korean pavilion in 2006.