In honor of the holidays of remembrance that took place around the world this past weekend (Day of the Dead in Mexico, All Saint’s Day in Europe), we put together a list of some of the world’s most beautiful, impressive, and interesting cemeteries. Take a look at Panrimo’s top 7 cemeteries.
- Père Lachaise, Paris, France– When you need to take a break from the bustling of the city and long lines for tourist attractions, hop the metro over to the 20th arrondissement and take a quiet walk through the winding stone sidewalks of Père Lachaise. It’s the city’s largest and most beautiful cemetery. It’s also the most famous and is the final resting place for many of France’s greatest artists, politicians, intellectuals and musicians. There is currently a waiting list to “get in” but not if you’re just going to visit. Yeah, I think I’d just like to visit.
2. Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Romania– This might be the most cheery, colorful cemetery in the world. Here graves aren’t marked by cold, dark stone or marble, but by brightly painted, hand-carved wooden crosses. Most of these elaborate grave markers also depict humorous scenes from the lives of their owners and sarcastic epitaphs. If only I could read Romanian to understand what they actually said. I might just have to enlist the help of my grandma…I’ll get back to you.
Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Colleville-sur-Mer, France – A visit to Normandy would be incomplete without stopping at this cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach to pay homage to the 9,387 American soldiers who were buried there after losing their lives in World War II. It’s impressive not only for its historical significance and emotional impact, but its perfect physical uniformity. It’s a tragic, but truly beautiful site.
4. Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic– This cemetery, located in the Jewish Quarter (and formerly the Jewish Ghetto during WWII) is one of the oldest surviving Jewish cemeteries in Europe. While the tombstones of many Jewish graves at other cemeteries were destroyed by Nazis, this cemetery was one that was left untouched. The look of this visibly overcrowded cemetery can be attributed to the multiple layers of tombs it contains. It actually sits 10 feet above street level because tombs have been layered on top of one another.
5. Highgate Cemetery, London, England– This lush, peacefully enchanting cemetery located in North London has been open since 1839, having been created in response to overcrowded cemeteries that were posing serious public health concerns. Highgate is home to one of the most visited graves in London, that of Karl Marx. It’s also home to the tomb of Henry Gray, the author of Gray’s Anatomy. RELAX! Deep breaths.. The TV show will go on (Gray’s Anatomy was a textbook of human anatomy, published in 1858). But yes, the title of the TV series was inspired by the textbook’s title. Okay, getting back to the cemetery… It fell into serious disrepair, but was graciously restored in the 1970s by a charity with the goal of preserving the history and grounds. There is an entrance fee and an additional fee for guided tours, but the cost will go toward the upkeep of the cemetery, so do a good deed and check it out! Just go during the day to be safe; Highgate is rumored to have been home to a vampire, and vampires don’t like daylight. I know this because I read Twilight.
6. Hanging Coffins, Sagada, Philippines– Interesting . The people of Sagada have been practicing this burial rite for about 2,000 years. The dead are buried in small, wooden coffins that are typically carved by themselves prior to their passing. The coffins are then suspended high on the face of a cliff, supported by wooden brackets. It is believed that having the coffins high above will keep the souls closer to God and closer to Heaven. If there’s a Hail Mary for a better chance at getting into Heaven or even just easier access, I mean..I think this is pretty brilliant.
- Neptune Memorial Reef, Key Biscayne, FL– An underwater cemetery? Now that’s one I’ve never heard of before. But believe it, it exists, right off the coast of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida. It’s essentially a manmade reef, designed to model the Lost City of Atlantis. Cremated remains are mixed with cement and poured into a mold to be added as a structure to the reef. Well, I suppose this is one solution to running out of space in cemeteries…
And there you have it, seven cemeteries. Go visit them! *Maybe not number 7.