Amongst the stoned stacked buildings and cobblestone roads resides the Olšany Cemetery. This cemetery is the largest burial ground in the city of Prague. Dating back to the 17th century, the cemetery began when Emperor Joseph II forbade plague victims to be buried within city limits, attempting to eliminate toxic waste contaminating the Praguian water supply. Instead, they were to be buried in the country outside of Prague. As the plague died out and the city grew, the cemetery became both a part of Prague and a common gravesite for many of Prague’s former citizens. Many celebrities may be found resting within the grounds of Olšany, including Franz Kafka, and along with many broken mausoleums, cracked, ungrounded headstones, and Art Nouveau decorated tombstones.
For the photography class I am taking, we used the cemetery as means of practice for our shooting skills. We used techniques such as depth of field, adjustments in the shutter speed, and aperture to control lighting in order to capture certain details or landscape scenes with in a photo. Being in this cemetery had an extremely peaceful vibe. It also seemed to be more of a park to Praguians than a place of mourning. Overall, there is incredible amounts of vegetation growing this way and that over tombstones and statues, occasionally spilling through the insides of cracked crypts themselves. Its ancient age holds little reverence to the stereotype of graveyards, rather it salutes the most important function of a gravesite as a memorial ground through monumentality and natural growths displaying the essence of time.