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A Cat at Begraafplaats Huis de Vraag

Begraafplaats (cemetery) Huis de Vraag (House of Inquiry) in Amsterdam isn’t near the tourist center of the city. To get there from our apartment in Plantage we took the subway to Centraal Station, then a tram, then walked for about a mile. Totally worth it.

The 1800s-era cemetery is a controlled wilderness surrounded by urban development, and if it weren’t home to at least 12,000 graves, it would have been lost years ago. It’s open to visitors during limited hours, but is no longer accepting new residents.

cemetary gate

After circumnavigating the cemetery’s boundaries (because we couldn’t find the entrance), the first thing we noticed was an old pixie ring in the yard of the caretaker’s house.

fairy ring

Just beyond the gates proper, we were immediately met by a black cat who seemed to have been waiting for our arrival.


black cat

Seriously, and without exaggeration, after greeting us the cat begin walking down the pathway and kept turning back and mewing to make sure we were following.

black cat


Whenever we stopped to look at a grave, she would wait, then continue on — guiding us into corners and nooks we might not have discovered ourselves. It was a strange and delightful experience.

headstones

After several minutes of following the cat, when it was 3 or 4 meters ahead of us, it turned a blind corner. When we made the turn we were surprised to find a quiet lady tending to one of the graves. The cat had vanished — we never saw it again.


graves

Nor did we see any other humans. Although prior visitors were in evidence as many of the graves were decorated with carefully laid nuts, which were plentiful from the low-hanging trees.


graves

After our visit we stopped at the nearby Pipes and Beans cafe where we were the only Americans, and probably the only tourists, present. We loved the coffee and cake, and the proprietor asked with a wink if we were in town for the Amsterdam Dance Event (a citywide rave festival).

Addendum: Our visit was in October 2019. Several months after returning home I found this fun story about another couple who had almost the same experience as we did.


Comments

Craig Conley

Very charming account! Great link to the other account that also involved the black showing introducing the residents of the cemetery to the visitors.

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