Olšanské hřbitovy

by | Dec 31, 2022 | Prague


A friend of mine, who is a funeral director, once told me that “You can tell a lot about a culture, by how they care for their dead” Olšanské hřbitovy is a testament to how caring the Czech people are.

Olšanské Cemetery is huge, I do not know the actual size, but I estimated using Google Maps and came up with about 5,000,000 Square Feet, or 464,515 Square Meters. Most sources that I found, agree that there are more than 112,000 graves, with estimates of over 2,000,000 bodies, and that comes to about 18 per grave, give or take. A terrible place to be in a zombie apocalypse.

Olšanské Cemetery contains the graves of several historical figures, including Jan Palach. Franz Kafka is buried in the New Jewish cemetery, which I have not visited yet.


The below history is taken from this image, it is from an on-site information sign, that is also in Czech, German, and Russian. The grammar is not quite right, but how is your Czech Grammar? I felt it was better to leave it intact as presented at the Olšanské hřbitovy.

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Outside the town walls the Olšany cemetery was established in 1680, when Prague was experiencing a major outbreak of plague.
Tens of thousands of victims of plague outbreaks occurring in the years 1680, 1713-1714 and 1771-1772 were buried in deep shaft graves in the oldest, nowadays already cancelled, section of the cemetery located near the church of St. Roch.
In 1786 the Cemetery II was founded and the year after the Olšany cemetery became the central graveyard for the right bank of the Vltava River. This happened in response to the imperial edict of 1784 by Joseph II forbidding burials within the inner city.

Other cemeteries were added successively in 1795 (Cemetery II), in 1835 (IV), 1861 (V), 1885 (VI and VII), 1889 (VIII and IX), 1896 (I. municipal), 1910 (X) and 1917 (II. municipal).
The current area of the Olsany Cemetery is 50.17 hectares, there are over 112,000 registered burial locations and according to the estimates there have been more than two million of people buried since the foundation of the cemetery.


1860—Cemetery section for victims of plague was cancelled.
1906—Remains and some valuable tombstones from the canceled Karlin military and Karlin evangelical cemetery were transferred to the I. municipal cemetery, including the gravestones of officers wounded in the battles of Dresden and Kulm in 1813.

1921—The ceremonial hall from 1898 was rebuilt by the architect Frantisek Nevole as the 1st crematorium in Prague 
(2nd in the Czech Republic).
1924-1925—Within the II. municipal cemetery the church of The Dominion of the Most Holy Mother was built, designed in the Novgorod-Pskov style.

Jan Palach

On January 16, 1969, a twenty-year-old student named Jan Palach took his own life in front of the Czechoslovakian Parliament. He set himself ablaze in front of the building, near the Statue of Saint Wenceslas.

Jan Palach Grave
Jan Palach Grave

Jan was protesting the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and the communist regime’s restrictions of free speech, and the demoralization of the Czech people, from the occupation.

He hoped his death would bring attention to this tragic situation. Sadly, most people were too distracted by other things going on at that time to notice.

In an attempt to quell the demonstrations at Olšanské, the Czech secret police, removed Palach’s body from Olšanské cremated and given to Palach’s mother.

After the Velvet Revolution, which was partially inspired by his actions 17 years before, Jan Palach’s ashes were returned to Olšanské.

A little over a month later, Jan Zajíc, took his life a couple of blocks away on Wenceslas square.

Jan Palach
Timeline of Jan Palach’s life transcribed below


August 11, 1948 Born in Prague As the second son of Josef and Libuie Palach.
1954 to 1963 Primary school pupil in Všetaty.
1963 to 1966 Student of the Gymnasium in Melnik.
1966 to 1967 Student at the University of Economics in Prague.
1967 Transfer to the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague

16 Jan 1969 At 4:00 pm, a live torch was lit
19 Jan 1969 Jan Palach died.
25 Jan 1969 Move to this grave
15 Oct 1973 The remains of JP were moved by the STB (STB = Czech Secret Police) after pressure on the family to have the remains exhumed
1974 The urns with the remains were placed in the family grave at the urn hall in Vsetaty
25 Oct 1990 After the consent of the family, the urn was collected from the family grave and transported to Prague and placed in this original grave

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Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc Memorial on Wenceslas Square.

Olšanské Art

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Angel Statue

The Olšanské Cemetery, like many of the others in Prague, is essentially an open air sculpture gallery with a lot of history.

This beautiful Crucifixion of Jesus statue stands over 20 feet tall. I was told it is made of silver, I am uncertain if that is factual.

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A statue of Jesus carrying a cross.

This was the epitaph of a 19-year-old girl.

Here he rests after great suffering

11. 1 1911 + 5. X 1929

So, Christ without blame-
the world hardly carried the patient through
evil god from so young
you quickly fell under him.

The soldier in this statue is Hans Hrdlička, who at the time of his death had just turned 21, and died on Christmas day.
He was “Student Of The I. And R. Consular Academy

Many of the statues do not have a name.

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JUDr. Karel Jechenthal

This is a beautiful headstone for a former Lawyer and his wife
JUDr. Karel Jechenthal, Kiti Jechenthal.

Unfortunately, some vandals have taken whatever artwork or photo that was in the circle towards the top.

These pictures do not do justice to this fallen tree sculpture, I think I need to go when the sun is shining directly on it.

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Front view.

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Angel Benesova family

Other than the family name at the top, I was unable to get a lot of information on this one.

Rodina Benesova (Benesova Family)

Luděk Marold 7 Aug 1865 – 1 Dec 1898
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Artist mid to late 19th century, the beautiful relief I have been told is Marold and his favorite model.

Olšany Cemetery

The Children

I think one of the saddest things you can see is the grave of a child, my mother always said a parent should never have to bury their child. One thing is for sure, is it puts your life in perspective, when you think your life is tough. Olšanské Cemetery has many children buried there, some are hard to find as just a listing on the family plot.

The inscription on the sides of the girl say
Hello Dear Libuska
Father and mother, 1917.

Her father Antonin died 21 years later in 1938, and her mother Marie died 47 years later in 1959.

5 years after her death, the sculpture of the girl was installed. Furthermore, notice the dead dove at her feet. The dove lying dead symbolizes a life cut prematurely short.


Here we are two sisters sleeping together, Klenkovy we were born, that an angel
wake up we know because we are born in Christ. Whichever way you go, consider your comfort, we ask you when
you read that, so pray for us

One of the most famous Olšanské tombstones commemorates two sisters, Františka and Antonia, who died a tragic death when, according to legend, a heavy cart ran over their legs and both girls died immediately on the spot.

KAREL VALKA 3 Mar 1934 to 6 May 1942, 8 years old. The rest of the family followed many years later.

Brother and Sister

This one I could not figure out, the brother and sister died within days of each other. The sister died the day before her brother, on his Birthday. She was 17, and he had just turned 26

Elvísek 4 Mar 2004 to 27 Jul 2004, just shy of 5 months old, sad.



So many of the graves at Olšanské hřbitovy have or had pictures on them, but thanks to vandals and petty thieves many are missing, who knew there was a market for photographs of dead people. I guess punks will find a market for anything

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I think this man looks like he could have gone unnoticed in any old west town.

A butcher his wife, buried with her family.

grave photos
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Father, daughter, mother, just moms age no dates weird.

Mom and dad, pictured above, Thinking that the missing photo is Antonin. I have no idea what large piece is missing towards the base.

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Pictures speak louder than words.

Pictures of the entire family

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Including Grandpa and Grandma, aunt and uncle

Adopt a Grave

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The city of Prague Cemeteries and funeral services offers a grave adoption service at Olšanské hřbitovy and all the other cemeteries in the city.


Olšanské is open daily, basically during daylight hours.

It is a beautiful walk, even if it is through a cemetery



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