There is irony in this Top 10’s title, but there is truth behind it. Cemeteries are a great way to learn an area’s history, from the people that lived there to how they may of lived or what textiles they used. In this listing of 10 fascinating cemeteries, we’re traveling the globe to look at ten marvelous resting grounds. This may be the only Top 10 Archive about cemeteries that won’t leave you cowering in your bedsheets!
Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, Romania
In the city of Sapanta in Romania is likely one of the most beautiful cemeteries you will ever come across. Rather than a field of grey and green, the Merry Cemetery is filled with vibrant, colorful tombstones. Adorning these colorful pieces are natïve paintings that describe the individual buried beneath. The paintings may also feature scenes from the individuals life, creating the best memorial an individual can ask for – one that speaks true to them and their existence. The cemetery plays a polar opposite to the common belief that death is solemn. Rather than focus on the death of the individual the graves at Merry Cemetery celebrate their life with intricacies and dry wit inscribed upon the stones.
Okunoin Cemetery in Mt. Koya, Japan
This cemetery stands as Japan’s largest cemetery, but that’s not the only fascinating thing about this vast collection of graves. At the center of this expansive locale lies a mausoleum with a lot of history attached to it. Well over 1,000 lanterns light the way to the Okunoin tomb of the monk that founded the area, Kukai, in the midst of the lush forestry. It is believed that the lanterns have not stopped burning since his passing over 1,000 years ago. The cemetery surrounding Okunoin is home to over 100 temples and enough unique headstones to lead one to believe it is an antiquated art museum. Spaceships, cups, and other fantastical designs can be found littered throughout, often indicating the deceased individual’s former profession. The overgrowth in certain areas of the cemetery give it the attractive allure of a forgotten city.
Highgate Cemetery in London, England
If you want to get a taste of what a cemetery intertwined with Mother Nature looks like, you’ll want to travel to London to the Highgate Cemetery. Rather than looking like a forgotten section of manmade structures, Highgate Cemetery looks more like it was built so that the beauty of Mother Nature would engulf it and add to its serenity. Tons of rich fauna surrounds every inch of this 1839 burial spot, which carries the remains of over 170,000 people. The cemetery originally opened in 1839 along with six other cemeteries, creating the Magnificent Seven on the perimeter of central London. The first burial was Elizabeth Jackson on May 26th, 1839. Accompanying Jackson’s remains are those of Karl Marx andThe Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author, Douglas Adams. Highgate is one of few cemeteries who’s style and integration with nature and wildlife actually makes it feel more like a romantic stroll through the park.
La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina
In the neighborhood of Recoleta in Buenos Aires, sits La Recoleta Cemetery, home to the remains of the granddaughter of Napoleon, several Argentinian presidents, author Adolfo Bioy Casares, and actress Zully Moreno. From afar, the cemetery looks like a small city, with over 4,600 above-ground vaults littering the grounds. Of those vaults, 94 were deemed national monuments and protected by the Argentine government. The entire cemetery encompasses 14 aces of land and is decorated with marbled mausoleums, towering statues, and the appealing art styles of Neo Gothic and Art Deco. La Recoleta has been dubbed by CNN as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. Visitors will want to check out the Tomb of Lilian Crociati de Szaszak, which has a unique design. The 26-year-old Lilian was killed in an avalanche during her stay in Innsbruck, Austria, and the tomb was designed by her mother.
Kalavryta in Peloponnese Peninsula, Greece
The burial grounds in the town of Kalavryta on the Peloponnese Peninsula were not a planned location for the graves of so many. The resting grounds at Kalavryta are littered with graves with one eerie similarity – they’re all marked with the same date. On December 13th, 1943, German troops descended on the town of Kalavryta, and what followed was a devastating moment in history. The people of Greece were heavily involved in the resistance against Germany, resulting in the deaths of several German soldiers. To retaliate, Nazis rounded up the men of Kalvryta, including young boys ages 12 and up, in an open field and fired upon them with hidden machine guns. The people of Kalavryta won’t soon forget the horrors of December 13th, especially with the graves of their fallen to remind them. This cemetery is the only one in the world with a mass of graves marked by the same date.
Zentralfriedhof in Simmering, Vienna, Austria
With over 330,000 graves and 3 million interred on its grounds, Zentralfriedhof is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and holds the record for housing the most remains in Europe. After a population boom during the 1800s, the decision to expand upon current burial grounds was made, leading to the consecration of ground in Simmering that would later be the home of Zentralfriedhof. A uniqueness about the cemetery led to controversy during its consecration, when groups like the Roman Catholic Church took issue with the mixing of different faith groups. The struggle that ensued led to a small Catholic opening, rather than the typical larger production, and the construction of a separate section of Jews. The very first burial was Jacob Zezler, who’s grave still stands today. Also buried here is famous musician, Ludwig van Beethoven.
Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC
In the United States, Arlington National Cemetery is more than just a burial ground, it’s a memorial for those that fought and gave their lives for the country. 624 acres of land is the home to over 400,000 solid white tombstones, each one paying homage to the brave soldier it was installed for. Arlington is a fairly plain looking cemetery, the bulk of its value being in the stories of the dead buried within it. Prior to being a burial site, the Arlington Estate was a site of Confederate occupation during the American Revolution, until it was cleared by General Winfield Scott of anyone not loyal to the United States. In May of 1864, Arlington received its first military burial when William Henry Christman died of measles. Today, Arlington Cemetery is home to John F Kennedy, his two brothers Robert and Ted, and the General of Armies John J. Pershing.
God’s Acre in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
A place called God’s Acre better be something magnificent, and the large stretch of graves in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania certainly lives up to that expectation. Count von Zinzendorf deemed the land behind the Gemeinhaus as consecrated land in the 1700’s, with the first body entering God’s Acre in 1742 with the death and burial of John Mueller by Moravian missionary Christian Froehlich. The look of God’s Acre is one of the most intriguing aspects of it, as each marble marker is identical in size and style, inscribed with little information about the deceased. The markers are placed flat against the ground to signify the Moravian belief that everybody is equal and are arranged by choir. A choir is essentially made up of people of the same gender, same age, and same marital status, meaning that family members and spouses were not buried together. From afar, it’s hard to even tell that God’s Acre houses over 2,000 graves.
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France
Named after the confessor Louis XIV, Pere Francoise de la Chaise, this large cemetery, the largest in Paris, was opened in May of 1804. Five-year-old Adélaïde Paillard de Villeneuve, the daughter of bell-boy Faubourg St. Antoine, was the first person buried at the newly opened cemetery. 110 acres of land play host to over one million graves, the grounds a mix of beautiful cobblestone, well-landscaped greenery, and impressive statues. Today, though, the cemetery is open to new burials only if the individual died or lived in a French capital city. The location is so popular that there is a waiting list and very few plots remaining. The cemetery plays host to French poet Jean de la Fontaine and French scholastic PierreAbelard.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans, Louisiana
One of America’s greatest cemeteries is ironically found within one of American’s greatest cities. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest of the three St. Louis cemeteries, having been opened in 1789, replacing the St. Peter Cemetery. One unique factor to the trio of St. Louis Cemeteries is that each grave is an above-ground vault, creating an amazing view that looks like a city of graves. St. Louis No. 1 borders the French Quarters and is home to deceased residents including Homer Plessy, the plaintiff of the famed Supreme Court civil rights case of Plessy v. Ferguson. The body of voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is also believed to be residing within St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Though you can’t access the cemetery on your own as it was closed to the public by the Roman Catholic Diocese of New Orleans, several local tours will take you through, including the Save Our Cemeteries Tour.