It is often said that cemeteries are one place to go for peace and quiet because no one is going to bother you there.
Literature down the ages, and more recently the cinema, have capitalised on such locations as backdrops to tales of terror. No one can verify, of course, that were the dead to rise, they would commit such atrocities, mythically attributed to them by writers and film producers. Perhaps the only thing they would do would be to ask where to find the nearest bus stop. What is certain however, is that generally speaking, due to this fictional persuasion, we have a certain subconscious apprehension when walking close to these final resting places, especially at night; and even more so if we happen to be there in the middle of a storm or it is howling with wind. Infamous bets might be laid on who has the courage to spend a night alone in the cemetery, but all that could happen is that someone might die of fright as a result of pranks played on them by other living beings. The dead are totally preoccupied with their own rest. Palma cemetery hasn't escaped these anecdotes and newspaper chronicles bear witness to various murders purported to have taken place in the area. Reality, however, has stubbornly contradicted fiction and facts have always come to reveal the guilty parties as other living human beings. The growth of Palma cemetery demonstrates that it is a site that reflects the fortunes of the society that built it. A walk across the sacred ground provides insight into the different periods of history represented in the ongoing stages of development. Entering from Camí de Jesús, the section comprising the cemetery's first expansion (1917-1948) dominates the terrain. The impression here is of a more town-based burial ground with wider thoroughfares, allowing for passage of both people and vehicles. The tombs are more highly adorned with areas of surrounding garden. The second sector, however, is very different. This is the original cemetery which was first set up in 1826 where a crowded maximisation of available space is very much in evidence. In some areas, it is impossible to pass by the graves without stepping on the memorial slabs. The second major extension of the burial ground (1958), and the third (1970), demonstrate a trend of graves becoming less sumptuous, where inscriptions on memorial slabs start to take over from stone sculptures which characterise the older sections. Funerary buildings belonging to insurance companies are more in evidence and the thoroughfares are wide enough to take a lorry.
The latest extension to the cemetery (Son Valentí) is in direct contrast to the traditional concept of a cemetery. A recently inaugurated section, the style of development adheres noticeably to the Italian design where graves and walled tombs are uniformly lined up, completely lacking in any form of ostentation.
Nothing is more simple, however, than the area given over to the resting place of urns containing the ashes of those who have been cremated.
In 1993, the city's first crematorium was brought into service and acceptance of this method of managing the remains of loved ones has been steadily growing; so much so that a little over 40 percent of the deceased who find Palma cemetery as their final resting place have been cremated. This development has led to the cemetery losing its specific Catholic hallmark, which originally meant making space available to bury the deceased of other faiths; a definition which became obsolete some 20 years ago.