San Cataldo cemetery in Modena, Italy

San Cataldo cemetery Modena

Designed in 1971, the San Cataldo cemetery is one of a kind. At the center stands a cube-shaped ossuary without a roof, windows or doors but with hundreds of graves (of which many still empty). This terracotta-colored house of the dead in the outskirts of Modena, Italy, is a fascinating architectural work.

San Cataldo is a cemetery never seen before. This post-modern piece of architecture impresses because of its surrealistic character. Upon entering the terracotta-colored cube it feels like entering an apartment block for the dead, but never unpleasant. Approaching the building it actually looks simple from the outside. When inside, without a roof and windows but with multiple funerary niches and stairs, you are losing orientation. But being somewhat disoriented puts life and dead in perspective and allows you to let the design grab you.

Italian architect Aldo Rossi’s project is actually still unfinished as he died in 1997 following a fatal car crash in Milan. The project misses a conical chimney-like tower and parts of the covered walkway, as you can see in this post. If you love architecture, this is a special place to visit.

Want to read about other things to do in Modena, read the other blog post on this website.