Krystian Puzdrakiewicz 2023

University of Gdańsk

Preserve the sacred: Attitudes towards recreational use of cemeteries and post-cemetery parks in Poland as a contrast to other Western countries [v]

Densely populated cities aim to facilitate the multifunctional use of urban public spaces within the context of the intensive and rational use of limited space resources. Cemeteries are an integral part of any city, but their use is deeply influenced by social factors. The recreational use of cemeteries varies, especially across cultural contexts and even within similar contexts. Based on the experiences of other Western countries, this article examines what recreational potential cemeteries and post-cemetery parks have in Poland. The main objective of the study is to explore people’s use of and thoughts about the appropriate use of these spaces in Gdańsk. To investigate this, face-to-face questionnaire interviews were used. In total, 650 adult respondents living within 500 m walking distance of cemeteries or post-cemetery parks took part in the study. The results reveal a scepticism regarding the recreational use of cemeteries. Instead, these sacred spaces are used primarily for visiting deceased relatives and for reflection. Few differences in opinion were found across demographic variables. A higher level of acceptance, though still limited, was noted for recreation in partially desacralized post-cemetery parks. The paper discusses the possible spread of recreation in cemeteries and post-cemetery parks in Poland. However, changing social attitudes is usually a long-term process. This leads to the conclusion that it is unlikely that cemeteries in Gdańsk will be used for recreational purposes in the near future. Instead, according to the respondents, they should retain their unique character as spaces for burial, reflection and remembrance.


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