The story of the Cemetery Pobrežje

In the 12th century Maribor became the seat of a pre-parish. The center of Maribor parish was all along by the church, which was most likely paid to be painted by the Styrian lord Otokar in the middle of the 12th century and at first carried the patronage of apostle Thomas, later of John the Baptist, and was finally also devoted to the latter. The church had a wall and within it was from the beginning the town’s cemetery. Despite the relatively small area the cemetery occupied, it sufficed for many centuries. Besides the town people here were also buried those from the Carinthian suburbs. Many famous and distinguished families from Maribor were buried here, among them Jera Sichel, the mother of the town’s priest Jurij Sichel, who died in 1580, when she was 106 years old; and we find the monument to the knight Andrej Graben, the last descendant of a renowned Maribor family, who died in 1556. In 1783 the townspeople moved the cemetery, due to the lack of space, to the place of the present-day Ljudski vrt, and at the church on Slomškov trg remained just a lighting pillar, a stone mark from the 16th century, in which the eternal light shines in the evenings and reminds us of the first cemetery in Maribor.

In Middle Ages the town had a Jewish cemetery, which was supposedly placed between the town-wall and the river Drava. According to the Jewish religious instructions, the cemetery should not stand next to the synagogue but since the space in the ghetto was very limited, the Maribor Jews could not obey this regulation. In 1367, the Jewish cemetery was already out of the town-wall, somewhere west of Vodnikov trg, most probably on the s.c. Jewish field along the present-day Strma ulica, where we can find mentions of the mill along the Jewish cemetery for the next 200 years.

The new cemetery found its place in the Carinthian suburbs that is today occupied by Ljudski vrt sports center. The cemetery was surrounded by a rectangular wall with iron web door. In the middle was the Cross chapel with a bell-tower that was surrounded by monuments of important Maribor families. Near the cemetery was a cross marking the location where people who committed suicide were buried. This cemetery remained as the town cemetery until 1937 when it was again moved, this time to Pobrežje.

Despite the fact that the new cemetery along Strossmajerjeva ulica remained in use until the end of the 30s of the 20th century, it was decided that this cemetery should close already in 1914 on the strong suggestions from the municipality and the town’s physicist Dr. Leonard (only the use of tombs was allowed first until 1924 and then until 1937). Already in 1911 the town and the church agreed on placing a new cemetery in Tezno. The church promised to put up a chapel, a toilet, and an apartment for the undertaker, all other buildings were to be taken care of by the municipality of Maribor. The church managed to build a cross and an apartment for the undertaker at the cemetery until 1914 and they even provided a kind of a mortuary while the municipality did not get any further than plans. Thus the cemetery was used exclusively for the needs of the head perish and the Franciscans.

In the Magdalene suburbs was located in 1880 closed Magdalene cemetery. Due to the rapid growth in the number of population in the Magdalene suburbs, the cemetery was enlarged in 1875 but it had to be closed already in 1880 due to the sanitary reasons and moved to the new location in Pobrežje. The chapel in the old Magdalene cemetery, in which tomb count Klemen Brandis and countess Adriana Brandis were buried, was demolished. The altar painting that was the work of the painter Kuppelweiser, Madonna with a child (by her feet are Saint Clement and Saint Adrian), was transferred to the chapel in the ecclesiastical cemetery. In 1906, a present-day Magdalene park was designed in the west side of the former cemetery.

At the end of the 19th century the town has spread along the Drava to the west. After the close-down of the Magdalene cemetery, the new cemetery was established in Pobrežje in 1879. Due to the dispute with the town about the burials of non-Catholics in the cemetery, the perish office of St Magdalene had set up an ecclesiastical cemetery on the opposite side of the road. Thus from today’s perspective we can find on the left side of Cesta XIV. divizije the former cemetery with a chapel, and on the right side a former town cemetery.

When the First World War began in July 1914, the municipality started to massively bury the fallen soldiers in its town cemetery in Pobrežje. But in the fall of 1914 the municipality publicly summoned the town’s people to start burying their beloved in the Pobrežje cemetery. Since Pobrežje was a lot closer to the town than Tezno, this action soon bore fruit and the interest to bury people in Tezno completely stopped. This action by the authorities was totally illegal since the cemetery in Pobrežje was then approved solely for the community of St Magdalene. The municipality actually tried to acquire the permits from the authorities in Graz but they refused the appeal with the explanation that the head and Franciscan parish had a new cemetery in Tezno and that it would not be appropriate if the municipality of Maribor created a competitive cemetery in Pobrežje. Nevertheless, the municipality allowed for the burials to continue in Pobrežje despite the strong objections of the head perish. Finally, they threatened to sue the municipality for the damages. The setting-up of a cemetery in Tezno cost about 135,000 crowns and that was the sum that the head perish had to pay-off with interests. To avoid such a lawsuit, the town decided that at the Pobrežje cemetery they allow bury from the head and Franciscan parish. The result of the negotiations was the decision that the part of the cemetery on the left side of today’s Cesta XIV. divizije belongs to the church and the part on the right side of the road to the town.

A component part of Maribor cemeteries is also the Town Funeral Institution that was established in 1869, which came under the care of the municipality in 191 with its seat in Ulica heroja Šercerja. The Institution carried out all the necessary services and manufactured caskets and other necessities in its own work-shop. They carried out exhumations and transportations of the deceased, and they used the Pobrežje cemetery. In 1891 the neo-Gothic chapel was built on the left side of the cemetery in Pobrežje and the altar painting from the former Brandis cemetery chapel in Magdalene cemetery was transferred here. This panting of Madonna with a child was painted by Kuppelweiser and commissioned by count Klemen Brandis, the owner of the Betnava estate, in 1835 upon his wife Adriana’s death.