Vertical cemetery in Hong Kong — when overpopulation affects not only the living
Categories: AsiaBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/vertical-cemetery-in-hong-kong-when-overpopulation-affects-not-only-the-living
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated megacities on the planet, so they try to rationally dispose of every piece of land, even if it is not too convenient. The Pok-Fu-Lam Cemetery or the Chinese Christian Cemetery is an excellent example of how you can take advantage of a relatively small and unsuitable area on a hillside.
The Chinese Christian Cemetery is located on the western tip of Hong Kong Island in an area called Pok Fu Lam. The name of the cemetery does not mean that it was created in the image and likeness of Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox churchyards. Pok Fu Lam Cemetery fully corresponds to Feng shui, as do most other burial sites in the region.
When designing the cemetery, which took place back in 1882, it was envisaged that the graves would face the sea, as required by the canons of Feng shui. It was then located far from housing, which also met the strict rules of this science. Interestingly, the cemetery did not grow from the bottom up, but, on the contrary, descending from the hill to the shore.
Initially, the owner of the cemetery is the Hong Kong Union of Chinese Christian Churches. The organization acquired this land from the Chinese authorities, so this territory is officially considered private. The Christian cemetery has known different times, including difficult ones.
During the time of Mao Zedong, when the authorities banned any religion, Christians held their services in secret and hid their views. But after death, they had nothing to fear — even the Communists could not forbid burying people according to their faith. Therefore, Pok-Fu-Lam grew even in times of persecution.
Today, the Christian Cemetery is an impressive amphitheater on the slope, behind which rises the majestic Sai-Ko-Shan Mountain. Terraces with graves are connected by labyrinths of stairs, which an inexperienced person without a guide cannot understand. But there are enough guides here — this place has long been a popular attraction and excursions are conducted around the cemetery.
Guests are interested not only in the unusual concept of this place, but also in some graves belonging to historical or simply famous personalities, including Christian saints and ascetics. There are also graves here, impressive for their exquisite decoration.
Unfortunately, there are very few ancient burials in the Pok-Fu-Lam cemetery — only those that are of particular importance to the Hong Kong Union of Chinese Christian Churches have been preserved. The constant renewal of graves here is associated with the high price of land. The dead rest here in peace as long as the rent is paid for the grave, but once the payments are stopped, the remains or ashes are removed and one dead person gives way to another.
The minimum rental period for a place in the cemetery is 10 years and it costs 360 thousand Hong Kong dollars (3.5 million rubles). Ten years later, the lease can be extended on preferential terms — "regular customers" pay 240 thousand Hong Kong dollars (2.3 million rubles) over the next decade.
Despite the shocking prices, there are plenty of people who want to rest in this beautiful cemetery, and some of the dead wait for months until a grave or a cell in the columbarium is released. All this looks from the outside too soulless, not Christian, but what can you do - the East is a delicate matter. But such a commercial approach has an undoubted plus — there are no abandoned and simply unkempt graves in the cemetery and it does not make a depressing impression.
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