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.
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:
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.
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.
READ MORE: In Photos: Bonaventure Cemetery
Jewish Cemeteries in Poland
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do YOU visit cemeteries when you travel? Tell me about your favorite!
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