sights & culture

The myths behind Balatonudvari’s heart-shaped tombstones


  • Molnár Zoltán

11/23/2018 12:31 PM

There are various local legends regarding the origin of the heart-shaped tombstones in Balatonudvari. Whichever you choose to believe, one thing is for sure: this protected heritage cemetery is an eerily captivating place.

Located the other side of Main Road 71 from the lake, heart-shaped tombstones are one of the most widely known landmarks in Balatonudvari. Historians and researchers agree that this cemetery near the local church was consecrated sometime between 1770 and 1780. Historic documents prove that there weren’t any crosses in this burial place: instead it has these heart-shaped stones.

Photo: József Hunyady/Fortepan

Although similar tombs can be found in other nearby settlements, Balatonudvari has them in the largest numbers. According to the dates still visible on some, the stones date back to the 19th century.

Photo: Krisztina Bordács - We Love Balaton

Jenő Marton, a local teacher and researcher of cemetery history, can only refer to legends when trying to explain the stones’ origins. One of them says that the daughter of a fisherman drowned during a Balaton storm: her stonemason lover made her a heart-shaped tombstone and soon the locals started to follow suit.

Photo: Csongor Kiripolszky - We Love Balaton

The other legend was documented by politician and writer Károly Eötvös in his piece about his travels around Lake Balaton: a poor, peculiar man lived in Balatonudvari, who wrote that those buried had a part above ground looking just like a human heart – because that’s worthy of both the dead and the living.

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