Cemeteries Around the World

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Just in time for Halloween, I've decided to put together a round-up of some of my favorite cemeteries I've visited around the world.

Yes, that's right — my favorite cemeteries.

I'm one of those people who loves visiting cemeteries when I travel. It's not because I have some morbid obsession with death, though. I simply find cemeteries to be interesting — and very often beautiful.

Cemetery in Vietnam
Cemetery in Vietnam
Bonaventure Cemetery
Bonaventure Cemetery

Most cemeteries are built to be completely utilitarian; they are groomed and organized and there to serve just one purpose. But other cemeteries are more than just a place to bury the dead.

Here's a look at some of the most interesting, beautiful, and haunting cemeteries I've visited around the world:

Merry Cemetery

Merry Cemetery in Romania

This colorful and unique cemetery in Romania is one of my absolute favorites. Each grave marker is a colorful cross with a short poem or story about the deceased written on it. Instead of mourning death, Merry Cemetery celebrates life — making it one of the coolest (and happiest!) cemeteries I've been to.

Merry Cemetery

READ MORE: Merry Cemetery: A Different Way to Look at Death

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah

Located in Savannah, Georgia, in the heart of the Old South, Bonaventure Cemetery is probably the most beautiful cemetery I've visited. With weathered statues of crying angels, oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and some very old family plots, this is a cemetery you should definitely visit if you ever have the chance.

Bonaventure Cemetery

READ MORE: In Photos: Bonaventure Cemetery

Jewish Cemeteries in Poland

Krakow Jewish Cemetery

If it's haunting, unkempt, yet sadly beautiful cemeteries you're looking for, I would recommend either the Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, or its twin in Krakow. Both are overgrown and crumbling, but yet still stunning in their disrepair.

Warsaw Jewish Cemetery

Krakow Jewish Cemetery

For me, knowing how much Poland's Jewish population suffered during WWII made these cemeteries even more moving, and I spent a lot of time wandering through them.

Krakow Jewish Cemetery

Titanic cemetery in Halifax

When the RMS Titanic sank in the Atlantic in 1912, rescue ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia, were the first on the scene — and the ones responsible for the recovery of the bodies of those who did not make it. Many of those who died were either unidentifiable, or their families could not afford to have their bodies shipped back home. Hundreds of Titanic victims, therefore, were buried in cemeteries in Halifax.

Fairview Cemetery in Halifax

The most famous “Titanic cemetery” in Halifax is Fairview Cemetery, where 121 victims are buried — including the famous J. Dawson. While researching for his cinematic masterpiece, James Cameron visited this cemetery as part of his research. Many of the real stories of these people are told in the film (though Jack Dawson as played by Leo was completely made up, save his last name and first initial).

Fairview Cemetery Titanic grave

Père Lachaise Cemetery

When I was asking friends and acquaintances for Paris recommendations, many of them suggested a visit to the city's sprawling Père Lachaise Cemetery. It was a great recommendation.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris

The cemetery is massive, yet well-kept. There are “street names,” as well as the gravesites of some very famous people — like musician Jim Morrison, playwright Molière, composer Chopin, and writer Oscar Wilde.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu

While spending some time in Hawaii a few years ago, I decided to visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific — colloquially known as “the Punchbowl” due to its location in an extinct volcanic crater. This cemetery is what you'd expect of a national cemetery — impeccably groomed and ordered. But its location above Honolulu and its large marble memorial make it stand out in my mind as both beautiful and full of reverence for the service members buried there.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

READ MORE: Paying My Respects at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

St. Peter's Cemetery in Salzburg

St. Peter's Cemetery in Salzburg

I also have to mention St. Peter's Cemetery — a tiny abbey cemetery in Salzburg, Austria. I visited this cemetery out of curiosity since it inspired the abbey cemetery in “The Sound of Music,” one of my favorite films. I was surprised by how pretty and detailed it was. And interesting, too. Plots here are rented, not bought — meaning if you don't pay rent on a loved one's body, they are dug up and removed, and the plot is rented to someone else.

St. Peter's Cemetery
Look familiar from “The Sound of Music”??

Culloden Battlefield

The last site I'm going to include here is perhaps one of the saddest: Culloden Battlefield in the Scottish Highlands. It was on this spot in April of 1746 that the British defeated the Jacobite army supporting the claim of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the throne of Scotland and Britain. The battle was fast and bloody – and it changed the course of history in Scotland forever.

Cairn at Culloden Battlefield

Many of the Highland clans were nearly wiped out during the battle, and the Highland way of life (including the wearing of tartan, the speaking of Gaelic, and the clans themselves) was all but stamped out in the decades that followed.

At the battlefield itself, many of the clan members who died at Culloden (and there were hundreds of them) are buried in mass graves marked by clan stones. It's a very somber place to visit, but fascinating from a historical perspective.

Clan gravestone at Culloden Battlefield

Do YOU visit cemeteries when you travel? Tell me about your favorite!

 

 

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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38 Comments on “Cemeteries Around the World

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  1. Ha, just put up a cemetery post today as well. Great minds 😉

    Bonaventure and Père Lachaise are definitely my two favorites that I’ve visited so far! Thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels 🙂

      Haha, great minds indeed! It seemed like an appropriate post topic for today!

    I was on Oahu earlier this month and was all set to visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (huge history fan). My visit of course was right around the time of the shutdown so in short, I didn’t get to visit. So disappointed. The Jewish cemeteries look fascinating though.

      Aww so sorry to hear you weren’t able to visit! It’s a very nice cemetery. Hopefully you still made it to Pearl Harbor before it was shut?

      And yes the Jewish cemeteries were pretty amazing to wander around.

        Only the USS Missouri was open due to its non-profit status, but the Bowfin, Oklahoma and most importantly, the Arizona all shut 🙁 But I guess more reason to go back.

          Aww what a bummer! You definitely will have to go back someday!

    I’d love to visit the Merry Cemetery. It sounds like a great idea! The cemetery in Venice on San Michele island is also quite interesting.

      I LOVED Merry Cemetery – so fun and colorful. Unlike any other cemetery I’ve been to.

    I’ve come to enjoy visiting cemeteries when I travel, and from your post it seems obvious that there are some really unique cemeteries out there.

      Definitely! Cemeteries – especially the old ones – can have really fascinating stories behind them.

    I got used to cemeteries when I lived in New Orleans – they’re as popular as parks there!

    I love the Merry Cemetery, I’ve never seen one that colorful. I think I’d like to be buried someplace that cheerful.

      I’ve been to a couple of park-like cemeteries, too. Kind of weird, but kind of cool at the same time!

      And I agree about wanting to be buried somewhere as cheerful as Merry Cemetery!

    I love the Merry Cemetery!
    My favorites are Pere-Lachaise, Slavin in Prague and Jewish Cemetaries in Moravia region of Czech Republic.

      Merry Cemetery does definitely seem to be a favorite.

    The Merry Cemetery is gorgeous! I like visiting cemeteries too and you are right: There are some really unique and beautiful ones. I just got back from Xcaret near Playa del Carmen, and I loved the little replica ‘panteon’ they have there.

    We always visit cemeteries when we travel. I’m glad to know there are kindred spirits out there who enjoy them as well. Usually when I mention going to cemeteries I just get strange looks.

    I very much like the cemeteries in Boston, and Cemitério dos Prazeres in Lisbon Portugal was beautiful.

      You definitely are not alone, Colette! If the comments on this post are any indication, cemetery tourism is actually quite popular!

    I love cemeteries!! My favorite is either Highgate in London (Karl Marx’s resting place) or any of the Normandie cemeteries in France. Both are serene places; nice to pay your respects to either figures from the past or those who fought for freedom or their country.

      I really need to visit Highgate the next time I’m in London! Lots of people name it as one of their favorites.

    wow! I have never thought to seek out cemetaries while travelling, apart from the major ones, like in Buenos Aires, but now I kind of want to! Love some of these pics. I have just been watching too many episodes of Vampire Diaries and that one in Poland reminds me of that!

      I definitely recommend it, especially if you hear of a really old or interesting one where you’re traveling!

    I hope you visited the (Jewish?) cemetery in Nice!! It’s beautiful and just around the corner from the lookout on the castle hill.

      I did not! I didn’t even know there was one there. (Though, to be fair, I was only in Nice for about 1.5 days, and I was more concerned with going to the beach and seeing Monaco! Lol.)

    I’ve always loved your similar taste in the morbid, I.e. Cemeteries. I’m always fascinated by them and you capture some amazing imagery to show the soul of each place. Great stuff Amanda!

      Thanks, Ryan! I just find cemeteries to be very interesting – and some are especially photogenic!

    I seek out cemeteries when I travel as well for a better understanding of the culture and, as you said, they’re often beautiful.

    I second Bonaventure and add La Recoleta (Buenos Aires).

      I’ve heard really good things about the Recoleta cemetery! Definitely one I’d like to see someday.

    I thought the ones in Sarajevo were pretty prolific, purely because there were soooo many. and they were totally visible from everywhere in the city.

      Those would definitely be ones I would want to visit – mostly just because they are so recent and full of stories.

    The Merry Cemetery was definitely one of a kind experience for me! There´s no doom and gloom in this place, no sadness when you look around..First time I felt that way in a cemetery. I couldn´t agree more with what you wrote – it really celebrates life! Each of those gravestones is like a brief glimpse into the life of that particular person. As if they said to themselves that there´s no point in hiding secrets and so they wrote an honest truth in those epitaphs. Quite a funny thing when you have your drinking problem told on your gravestone, or the fact that you cheated on your wife..

      Merry Cemetery is definitely the most unique cemetery I’ve visited, too!

    I love cemeteries too. Other people give me weird looks when I tell them that I love finding unique cemeteries. They find it crazy. My favorite one is Mirogoj in Zagreb, Croatia. The old part of it. It looks more like a park than a cemetery. I used to find old tombstones and write down names and dates and then Google them afterwards. Sometimes I would find their lifestories and how they died…

      Oh how neat! I’ve never thought of looking up people in old cemeteries – but that’s such a cool idea!

    I’m actually planning on visiting Linwood Cemetery in Dubuque, Iowa on Friday! I went last week for a nighttime ‘Haunted History Walk’ and I want to go back and see what it looks like in the day time!

      Ooo the haunted history walk sounds very cool!

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