Geografie 2015, 120, 507-526

Memorial crosses in Poland: a commonplace and contested element of public roads

Lucyna Przybylska

University of Gdańsk, Institute of Geography, Department of Spatial Management, ul. Bażyńskiego 4, 80-952 Gdańsk, Poland

Received October 2014
Accepted May 2015

The aim of the paper is to show spatial regularity of roadside memorialisation as well as public opinions on the phenomenon in Poland. Field studies covering 623 kilometres of public roads showed that out of 100 roadside memorials, the majority (98%) are memorial crosses A correlation between the distribution of roadside memorials and the road category and related accident rate was noted. Internet questionnaires, on the other hand, indicated that opinions on memorial crosses are nearly equally divided in Polish society: 52% are for leaving them along roads and 48% are for their removal. Furthermore, an analysis of web discussions has shown that memorial crosses are seen by society either as traditional components of road infrastructure, or objects of religious cult, or cross-cultural markers of death and grief.


This paper is part of the research project, “Sacralization of public spaces in Poland”. It has been sponsored by the Polish National Science Centre according to decision number DEC-2011/03/B/HS1/00394.


33 live references