It is one of the most picturesque sights of the city and covers an area of approximately 14 hectares. The Hajongard Cemetery is officially known as the Central Cemetery (Hungarian: Házsongárdi temető, German: Hasengarten) on what was formerly the Ulița Măcelarilor, currently Avram Iancu Street, is one of the oldest cemeteries in Cluj, founded in the sixteenth century once the cemetery around St. Michael’s church in the city’s center became overcrowded.
The cemetery’s name comes from the old German name of the area where the cemetery is currently located – Hasengarten (translated “Garden of rabbits”). The name Hasinschart was attested in Cluj in 1373. The first attestation of the Hajongard Hill, located south of the medieval city of Cluj, dates from 1503. The linguist Attila Szabó considered it plausible, that besides the local folk etymologies “garden of rabbits” (Hasengarten -Házsongárd) the version that derives from Haselgarten could refer to a garden with peanuts.
The decision to establish the cemetery was taken by the authorities after the plague of 1585. The cemetery was enlarged several times, first during the seventeenth century when the Lutheran cemetery was established and in 1840 in the old Jewish cemetery.
In 1885 the cemetery was arranged, with many old stones being removed from their place, plots were designated and trees were planted. At the end of the nineteenth century the cemetery was expanded to the south, opening a new Jewish cemetery in 1892 and a cemetery for soldiers. The oldest headstone dates from 1599 and is located in the Lutheran cemetery.
Among the personalities who have found rest in Central Cemetery are: Ion Agârbiceanu, writer, Emil Racovita, caver, Paul Sima, painter, Radu Stanca, playwright, Emil Isac, writer, Iuliu Haţeganu, university professor, Virgil Fulicea, sculptor, Gheorghe Dima composer, Gyorgy Banffy, governor of Transylvania, Miklos Banffy, politician and foreign minister of Hungary, Miklos Josika, writer, Jeno Janovics, actor and director etc.
Photograph: Tudor Tomșa Stoian
Translated by: Darius Roby, Editor Cluj.com