Cemeteries can be fascinating places to visit, revealing much about local culture. And Russian cemeteries are no exception. In the centrally-located Arskoye Cemetery, narrow, winding paths lead you through this massive labyrinth of a graveyard. It is easy to get lost and even locals ocassionally have trouble finding the graves of their loved ones. The first thing that struck me was the vibrant colors. Most of the cemeteries back in the States are not much more than fields of monochromatic grey stone. In Russian cemeteries, each grave is sectioned off with a brightly colored metal fence and the gravestones are often decorated with neon-colored flowers. Many graves have a small wooden benches where friends and relatives can sit and spend time with those who have passed. Most tombstones include portraits of the departed, which range from postcard-sized to full head-to-toe life-sized engravings, as if the deceased are staring at you from beyond the grave.
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