Hallowed Ground

What can a cemetery tell us about a country’s culture and history? That is the central question posed in the documentary series ‘Consecrated Ground’. In the five-part EO series presenter Kefah Allush travels to cemeteries in Sicily, Amsterdam, Dublin, Sarajevo and Lisbon in search of Europe’s soul.

Documentary - History, Travel & Adventure

6 x 35

Hallowed Ground

What can a cemetery tell us about a country’s culture and history? That is the central question posed in the documentary series ‘Consecrated Ground’. In the five-part EO series prese... More...

What can a cemetery tell us about a country’s culture and history? That is the central question posed in the documentary series ‘Consecrated Ground’. In the five-part EO series presenter Kefah Allush travels to cemeteries in Sicily, Amsterdam, Dublin, Sarajevo and Lisbon in search of Europe’s soul.

‘A cemetery is like a history book,’ says Allush. ‘A place to discover how people lived and died, to learn who were the villains and the heroes of revolutions, coups and forgotten missions, and how religion and morals are intertwined with it all.’

Episode 1: Sicily
Consecrated Ground starts in Sicily, the island that was always visited by different cultures due to its central location, where many a refugee comes ashore looking for a better life. Kefah Allush visits Pozzallo, where it is all about hospitality and family – from the Holy Family to the Mafia.

Episode 2: Amsterdam
Kefah Allush’s tour of European cultural history takes him to Beth Haim, the oldest Jewish cemetery still in use in the Western world. Allush: ‘All the graveyards we visit are still in use. Beth Haim was established in the Dutch Golden Age by Portuguese Jews who were driven from their country and fled to Amsterdam because of the religious freedom and tolerance of the Low Countries. But they still bury people here. New history is being made here every day.’ At Beth Haim is the grave of the slave Elieser, who should have been put to rest outside the fence but was buried at an A-location, remarkably enough right next to a slave trader.

Episode 3: Dublin
The third stop of the tour of European graveyards is Dublin, Ireland, where Kefah Allush visits the great Glasnevin cemetery. This is the place where, for the first time in Irish history, Catholics and all others, both religious and non-religious, were interred according to their own traditions and rituals. This burial ground bears marks of the great struggle for independence of the Irish trying to throw off the British Protestant yoke.

Episode 4: Sarajevo
What information can the adjoining cemeteries Lion, Saint Marc and Sehid give us about the history of Sarajevo? In fact the entire city of Sarajevo is a ‘lieux de memoire’; a place of remembrance. This city used to be known as the ‘Jerusalem of Europe’ because of its religious diversity and is the meeting point between East and West. ‘Sarajevo has an eventful history’, says Allush. ‘This is where the First World War was ushered in. What’s more, on the graveyards we visit fighting went on between snipers during the Yugoslavian War and the siege of Sarajevo in the nineties.’ Although a generation later the physical and emotional scars are still visible all around the city, the younger generation is getting busy to fight the demons of nationalism and bigotry.

Episode 5: Lisbon
Lisbon is the final stop for Consecrated Ground. This last episode features one of the most beautiful cemeteries of Europe: Ciméterio dos Prazeres, or cemetery of pleasures. A necropolis situated high up, full of streets and little burial houses, like a mirror image of the bustling lower city of the living. During the eighteenth century this metropolis on the Tagus was plagued by a devastating earthquake and a tsunami. The shock did not only destroy the inner city, but was also a turning point in religion and philosophy. How could God have allowed this to happen?

Documentary
Wilberry Jakobs
2017
Manon van Wijk
6 x 35
EO
 
 
 
 

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