Do you include cemeteries in your city sightseeing
itineraries? You may want to consider adding them in. Graveyards are more than
just a final burial place for the dead, they can be a window into history, an
open air art museum or an architectural primer. Cemeteries can be peaceful,
interesting and yes, even beautiful. Here are some of the most famous and
visually appealing cemeteries in the world:
Mirogoj Cemetery – Zagreb, Croatia
Mirogoj isn't quite as well known as other European heavy
hitters, but this elegant and beautiful cemetery is a highlight of Zagreb.
Known for it's beautiful arcades, which feature patterned tiles floors, ivy and
sculpted columns, Mirogoj is more like a park than just a burial ground. The
cemetery is often described as an open-air art gallery for its statues,
pavilions and architecture. On All Saints Day locals blanket the cemetery in
flowers and candles.
Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis – San Juan, Puerto Rico
This cemetery, on the outskirts of Old San Juan, definitely
wins for most dramatic location. Santa Maria Magdalena is perched on a strip of
shoreline overlooking the sparkling blue Atlantic. Officials chose this
location as a metaphor: the spirits journey into the afterlife as a journey
across the sea. The tombs and buildings glow an immaculate white that resonates
against the blue background and the old El Morro fort can be spotted in the
Highgate Cemetery – London, England
Highgate is the largest, most famous of London's
“Magnificent Seven,” a group of large Victorian cemeteries built to ease the
overcrowding of parish burial grounds. Highgate quickly became a posh,
high-status place to own a tomb, which is reflected in the elaborate art that
adorns many of the graves.
Highgate is beautiful and spooky and everything that a
Victorian cemetery should be. It features elaborate gothic tombs, elegant
statues and enormous tombs. The highlight is the elaborate columned Egyptian
Avenue. Famous burials here include Karl Marx, Douglas Adams and George Eliot.
Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah
Savannah likes to call itself the city of the dead, in which
case Bonaventure Cemetery is probably the capital. Perched on a bluff
overlooking the Wilmington River, Bonaventure is a sprawl of elaborate
tombstones covered by oaks dripping with Spanish moss. The main attraction here
is the bird girl statue, made popular by the book “Midnight in the Garden of
Good and Evil.”
La Recoleta – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Located in one of the poshest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires,
La Recoleta is the final resting place for many of Argentina's top movers and
shakers including Eva Peron. The cemetery itself is a beautiful maze, bursting
with interesting and elaborate tombstones in an incredible juxtaposition of
styles including art deco, neo-gothic and neo-classical. A variety of rough
looking tabby cats prowl the cemetery, basking in the sun and guarding the
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Père Lachaise is one of the most famous and beautiful
cemeteries in the world, and for good reason too. It is a huge, 44 acre
cemetery in downtown Paris that dates back to 1804 featuring towering monuments,
elaborate chapels, and colorful garden flowers. Many famous figures are buried
here including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf.
Hong Kong Cemetery
Hong Kong's earliest Christian cemetery was founded in 1804,
during the colonial era. It features a mix of elegant Chinese and Japanese
style graves, minimalist military tombstones dating back as far as the Boxer
Rebellion and elaborate angel topped British reliquaries sprawled over an
enormous hillside with skyscrapers looming in the background.
Do you have a favorite cemetery?