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Belarus: Tatar cemetery

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Tatar cemetery | Belarus | Europe

[Visited: May 2014]

When I look at a large board outside the castle complex of Mir, I see that apart from the famous castle, there are a few more sights in the vicinity of this village. No matter how small it seems, it has an orthodox and a Jewish cemetery, but my attention is drawn to the Tatar cemetery which is indicated outside the village. The weather is perfect: a friendly sun is sending warmth to the earth, and I have some time to kill, so I think this is a perfect opportunity to walk the fields around Mir - not knowing what to expect. The orthodox church and cemetery are easy to spot, and then, I pass the last houses of Mir, and the landscape opens in front of me.

Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus):

There are cows and a horse grazing near a brook, and a woman lying in the grass, waiting for them to finish. She must have heard me, as she lifts herself from the grassy field where her animals are eating. She looks a little bewildered at seeing a foreigner here. I guess visitors are supposed to stay at the castle. The gently sloping hills around me look very green, apart from the white flowers in them. A little ahead, I see a bundle of trees, a little higher on a low hill - that is where the road seems to be taking me. Well, road: it quickly becomes a dirt track, and I have to walk around pools of water. I somehow imagine that the Tatar cemetery I am looking for, must be very old, and wonder if it is visible at all from the dirt track.

Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): Tatar tombstone in the cemetery

There surely are no more signs here, and I decide that I will walk to the trees, and turn back if I do not find the cemetery before. I have to carefully walk the track, trying not to get stuck into some muddy areas. Then, as I approach the trees, to my surprise, I see a few stones under them. The main track veers away, but there is a path leading up to the woods - and the cemetery turns out to be just below them. It is much bigger than I expected: there are tombstones everywhere. The dates on the stones suggest that this cemetery is still being used, and I wonder where those Tatars now live - in Mir itself? In the surrounding area? I only hear a gentle breeze go through the tops of the trees, but there is no one around to ask.

Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): Trees with flowers are the landscape where the cemetery is located
Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): Tombstones half hidden in the vegetation
Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): Tombstones in the forest
Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): Some of the Tatar graves hidden under the trees
Picture of Tatar cemetery (Belarus): The dirt road from Mir to the cemetery

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