REST IN PEACE, THE FORGOTTEN UNDERGROUND
The cemetery grew in the formerly rural village around a medieval church. The village grew considerably in the course of the 19th century when the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie came here to look up the beautiful landscape. And also the Royal family established themselves here. Where the little village around 1831 approximately 1.806 inhabitants knew, there were almost 18,000 in 1880. In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the cemetery was extended several times. A first extension came in 1832, when the surface was doubled to 1.3 ha. Many prominents were buried here, especially from Catholic backgrounds. Hit by the strong population growth in the mid-1870s the cemetery became already overcrowded. The solution was taken for setting up grave galleries or crypte. This consisted of a network of underground passages with niches for the graves, linked to above-ground monuments. A first gallery of 31m was put into use in 1878. That year there were immediately built six new galleries and only around 1890, the first system of corridors shut down. The burial galleries were increased in 1919 and 1928. The principle was to separate the bodies into hermetically sealed niches to avoid dirty odors. The galleries include 4061 niches for individual coffins and also there are some constructed parts with space for large families. The oldest part of the galleries, including the aboveground monuments associated with it, is since 6 February 1997 a protected monument. The cemetery contains many important funerary architecture masterpieces and some well known sculptures from famous artists.
As you have noticed the burial galleries are in very poor condition at the moment. And waiting for urgent protection and a large-scaled renovation. The increasingly worsening state of the underground galleries, by water draining and concrete rot, with the above-ground pressure of the upper graves makes it very dangerous to enter. In 1985 the underground galleries where closed for the public! Today 2014 some reconstruction has taken place, but the many hours of reconstruction work and involved finance is making it very difficult.