Have you done a cemetery tour on your travels?
Top travel bloggers share their experiences of visiting cemeteries during their travels.
Nikki & Michelle : Cheeky Passports
Perched along the border of Lake Sevan, Armenia’s huge water body, the little town of Noratus is home to the largest surviving Khachkar cemetery of the world. Khachkars are memorial (tomb) stones carved with rosettes or solar disk motives, sometimes also having more intricate designs invoking Christian biblical figures.
Dating back to the 10th century, the ancient cemetery houses an army of about a thousand Khachkars spread over a territory of seven hectares. The term ‘army’ is not coincidental, as a folklore legend narrates that in the 14th century, locals fitted the Khachkars with helmets and swords, successfully scaring off an invading army which was not too keen on facing the huge defensive force it perceived from far off.
Armenia has a very strong religious heritage and Khachkars are a common sight in various cemeteries and many monasteries around the country, although usually they are present in smaller numbers than those found at Noratus.
Claudia Tavani : My Adventures Across the World
Mount Olives, East Jerusalem
Visiting Mount of Olives is one of the unmissable things to do in Jerusalem. This historical cemetery takes its name from the olive groves that once covered the slope of the mountain on which it is located. The area has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3000 years and there’s around 150000 graves. What’s interesting is that it is located in East Jerusalem, in an area where the majority population is nowadays Muslim.
I visited Mount of Olives on a late Saturday afternoon, as I knew it is a great spot to admire the sunset over the Dome of the Rock. The views from there are simply impressive. After the sun set, I took my time to walk down the hill and make my way back to the Old City, passing some beautiful ruins and enjoying the sights along the way.
Suman Doogar : Nomadicshoes
War Cemetery in Kohima, Nagaland, India
“When you go home, tell them of us and say; for your tomorrow, we gave our today”
At first look, the war cemetery looks like a perfectly manicured garden. It’s only when you see the graves with such heart-rending messages that you realize the sorrow the families of these young men buried here must have gone through.
The Battle of Kohima and Imphal
In the hope of preventing an attack on Burma, the Japanese troops struck the British army in Kohima, Nagaland and in Imphal, Mizoram to tear down the supply bases. In a hand-to-hand combat, the Commonwealth forces were able to secure their position and forced the Japanese to withdraw. This win was a major climacteric for the Allies of World War II and it was referred to as “Stalingrad of the East”.
Designed by Colin St. Claire Oakes, Kohima War Cemetery is a memorial which lies on the battle ground of Garrison Hill. Dedicated to soldiers of the 2nd British division of the Allied Forces who lost their lives at Kohima in the Second World War. The cemetery contains a total of 1420 Commonwealth burials in addition to 917 Indian soldiers – Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who were cremated as per their faith.
It’s heart-wrenching to think of these soldiers who are buried here, far away from their home country in a foreign land with nobody to visit them. All these lonely graves have are the roses to give them company.
Read more about the War Cemetery here
Ali : Pakistan Explored
Makli Necropolis Makli, Pakistan
Dating back to the 14th century, the Makli Necropolis near the town of Thatta, Pakistan, is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. It houses more than half a million graves and mausoleums, the final resting place of kings, queens, governors, saints, scholars, philosophers, and other wealthy citizens. The necropolis ground covers 10 km2.
The necropolis was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981, but it’s been neglected by the local government, leading to ruin. There are plenty of stunning mausoleums, but most of them are in dire need of restoration.
Unfortunately, tourism in this region of the world is almost nonexistent. Although there is technically a cover charge to enter the grounds for tourists, the ticket clerks are usually sleeping… or nowhere to be found.
Despite the neglect, all this leads to a surreal visiting experience, with local men chilling in the shade of the mausoleums, and boys playing cricket among the decrepit graves. The sheer size, historical significance, and the dilapidated charm of the large mausoleums—integrating Muslim, Hindu, Persian, Mughal, and Gujarati influences—make this an incredibly interesting cemetery to explore.
Mark Wyld : Wyld Family Travel
Walhalla Cemetery Victoria 3825
Walhalla is located 183 kilometers east of Melbourne in the foothills of the Great Dividing range. Walhalla was at its peak from 1863 until 1914, Walhalla and its surrounding areas was one of the most prosperous gold areas in Australia. Walhalla and peaked with a population of over 3000 people. Walhalla supported 10 hotels,7 churches, several dance halls, a school with more than 500 students and over 30 shops. Life was hard in the colonial Australian gold fields. The Walhalla cemetery is located on a steep incline that rises up the side of the gully that the town is built in. 1100 Graves are located on the steep hill. Some head stones still tell the story about life on the goldfields and the harsh reality that these pioneers lived in. The majority of the graves present are pre world war one which makes them historically significant. Ghosts yes Ghosts Walhalla is known for them and sightings in the cemetery have been reported over the years.
Peter Korchnak : Where Is Your Toothbrush?
The Colon Cemetery, Calle 12, La Habana, Cuba
The Colón Cemetery in Havana, Cuba is one of the world’s grandest cemeteries, and the largest in the Americas. Founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighborhood and named after Christopher Columbus, it boasts hundreds of mausoleums, family chapels, vaults, memorials, and sculptures. It is the eternal home of a million people, particularly many important figures of Cuban history, such as musicians like Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzales, politicians, sportsmen, and artists, including Alberto Korda, author of the famous Che Guevara photograph.
If you go, prepare for little to no shade, bright sun reflecting in the expanse of faded stone, and no seating. Easy to spot are empty and even desecrated tombs of exiles as well as a firefighters monument. Less obvious in a distant corner is a large rusting box containing bones and skulls of those who no longer pay for their plots. In the Central Chapel in the middle of the sprawling, 140-acre necropolis, spot a Catholic priest reading the Cuban Communist Party’s newspaper Granma as he waits for a funeral.
Elderly men roaming the grounds will kindly offer to take you on a private tour (in Cuban Spanish only). Be sure to negotiate the price up front to avoid surprises.
Andrew and Emily : Along Dusty Roads
Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala
Quetzaltenango’s cemetery is undeniably beautiful. Full of ornate tombs, stunning architecture and grand mausoleums with a volcanic backdrop – a parting gift to society’s rich and successful.
Yet to get a real sense of the inequalities in Guatemalan society, you need to venture into the depths of the graveyard, and discover the grassy plots of the Mayan people; a place where you will not find expensive headstones but instead simple hand-made wooden crosses and obituaries written in felt-tip pen.
In a country where the divide between rich and poor is so vast, nowhere is this more evident than in a person’s final resting place.
A visit to this cemetery may prove to be emotional, but for that very reason it is so important to go.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers : Travels with Carole
Municipal Cemetery, Guanajuato
Many people who visit Guanajuato, Mexico, make a bee-line for the Mummy Museum, or Museo de las Momias. There they can see a collection of local mummies. What they often don’t realize ahead of time is that these mummies are even more local than they thought. They all come from the municipal cemetery located adjacent, where rocky ground and dry mountain air provide the perfect conditions for dry corpses (they aren’t wrapped like Egyptian mummies).
It used to be that when a family fell behind in its payments for cemetery space, the loved one was dug up and the corpses in the best condition were put in the museum. But that practice ended in 1958. So now only those older, pre-new-law corpses are displayed. Read more here
Gábor Kovács : Surfing the Planet
Poblenou Cemetery, Av. Icària, s/n, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Visiting cemeteries might not be most people’s first choice, when they explore a city, even though these places sometimes let you learn more about the history of the than any famous monument. The cemeteries in Barcelona are also worth some of your time. The most famous ones are the one on the Montjuic hill and the Poblenou Cemetery, found in the neighborhood wearing the same name. The latter can be more easily visited, since it’s found very close to the beach area.
Poblenou Cemetery was opened in the 18th century, when the Montjuic cemetery started to become full. Designed by Ginesi from Italy, the cemetery is clearly divided into two parts: one with thousands of burial niches and the other part where the large individual crypts and family mausoleums are found. All of these are architectural masterpieces, and at the entrance of the cemetery you can pick up a leaflet with a map included, so you don’t miss out on any of the most beautiful crypts.
Hannah Lukaszewicz : Getting Stamped
Salgótarjáni út cemetery, 8 Salgótarjáni Street, Budapest, Hungary
We’ve found ourselves in several cemeteries around the world but none compare to the abandoned Jewish cemetery in Budapest. When we were looking at what to do in Budapest we wanted to do something most tourists don’t and a cemetery is not the norm for most. The Salgótarjáni út cemetery is the oldest Jewish burial ground on the Pest side of Budapest.
When the Jewish population was forced out of Budapest during World Word II the cemetery got left behind abandoned. The only way to visit the cemetery is via tour or if you speak Hungarian can contact the cemetery keeper to let you in. Some of the graves have collapsed so watch where you step. The tombstones are huge and pretty if you ask me. If you’re looking for a unique cemetery in Budapest definitely head here.
Shandos Cleaver : Travelnuity
Père Lachaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, France
Père Lachaise Cemetery is one of the few cemeteries in the world that is regarded as a tourist attraction of a city, even a city that is as bursting with tourist attractions as Paris. Taking up a large section in an out of the way arrondissement, tourists are mainly attracted by the number of famous people buried within its boundaries.
If you follow the detailed map, you’ll eventually find the tombs of famous Frenchmen and women, such as the writers Marcel Proust and Colette, the songstress Édith Pilaf and the artist Eugène Delacroix. But its the graves of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde that attract the most visitors, as evidenced by the number of mementoes left around them, and the latter needing to be shielded behind glass to protect it from kisses.
But heading to Père Lachaise on a rainy Spring day, it’s also hard not to be affected by the cemetery’s tranquil atmosphere. Meandering down wandering paths, past extravagant tombs and with water dripping everywhere, it’s an island of greenery and peace in the midst of this city.
Rachel Heller : Rachel’s Ruminations
Old Jewish Cemetery Široká, 110 00 Staré Město, Czechia, Prague
The striking thing about Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery is that it’s absolutely packed with gravestones. Some are simple, carved with a few words in Hebrew, others are more ornate, including some shaped like small tombs. It’s an immense jumble of stonework, with rows between the rows.
While there might be older graves in the cemetery, the oldest gravestone dates to 1439, and the newest to 1787. Over more than 300 years, the Jewish community buried about 12,000 of its dead in this cemetery.
Since it was in the middle of the city, the community couldn’t get more space to accommodate more burials. Instead, they added a layer of earth over the existing graves and buried the deceased on top, replacing the gravestones from the earlier graves next to the new ones. This explains how completely crammed with gravestones this cemetery is. It also explains why the cemetery is higher than the surrounding streets; there may be as many as 12 layers of graves.
To visit it, you can buy a ticket at the booth just outside, which will also allow you access to the Jewish Museum, housed in a number of synagogues nearby.
Alice Teacake : Teacake Travels
Greyfriar’s Cemetary, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
Of all the things to do in Edinburgh, don’t let Greyfriar’s Cemetery escape off your list! Possibly one of the most wonderfully creepiest cemeteries you’ll step foot in, there are so many exciting reasons to pay this beautiful spot a visit.
Some explorers come to see the infamous statue of Bobby. An adorable little sky terrier dog, this pet refused to leave his owner’s grave when he passed away. He remained in the graveyard for 14 years, supported by the locals with food and shelter, until he passed away himself. You can come and see his statue just outside of the graveyard and pat him on the head for good luck.
Another reason to visit Greyfriar’s yard is for Harry Potter! J.K Rowling drew inspiration for her characters from the headstones within this cemetery. See if you can find Tom Riddle within the grounds!
If Bobby and Harry Potter aren’t for you, just come for the look and feel of this place! It’s certainly unique.
Yulia Dyukova : The Foodie Miles
Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery, Luzhnetskiy Proyezd, 2, Moskva, Russia, 119048
Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery is one of the most unique, beautiful, and famous attractions in the capital of Russia. The cemetery is located next to the southern wall of the 16th century Novodevichy Convent that has been proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
The cemetery was designed and inaugurated in 1898. Anton Chekhov was one of the first notable people to be reburied here. Today, the section around his grave is called Cherry Orchard and contains graves of the actors of Moscow Art Theatre. Its founder, Constantin Stanislavski, is also buried here.
During the Soviet era, the cemetery became one of the most high-profile cemeteries in the country. It was second only to Kremlin Wall Necropolis. You can find graves of political leaders, well-known writers, artists, musicians, and cosmonauts here. Nikita Khrushchev, Nikolai Gogol, Dmiti Shostakovich, Sergei Eisenstein, and Boris Yeltsin are only a few world-famous people who are interred here.
Although the cemetery attracts many tourists, with its 5.94 hectares territory and over 26 000 graves, you can always find a quiet space to get away from the crowds.
Zainab Mohiuddin : Discover with Zainab
Trunyan Cemetary, Terunyan, Kintamani, Bangli Regency, Bali 80652
What if I told you there’s a cemetery where they leave corpses to decompose in the open air – would you visit? Well I did. Filled with a morbid curiosity, I made my way to the remote Terunyan (or Trunyan) village in Northeast Bali.
There, instead of cremating their dead as is common in Bali, villagers sail the bodies to a cemetery across lake Batur and leave them to rot in wooden cages. After a while, the skull is removed and placed on a wall as the most important part of the body and the hands are sent to another cemetery, as another important part.
There are in fact 3 cemeteries; one for unmarried people, one for married people and one for disabled people. It hardly smelled, which was astonishing. Locals say that the ancient Banyan tree overlooking the bodies is magic, and removes the putrid odor.
Why do they do this? This belief stems from a Neolithic Agama Bayu belief dating to a time before Hinduism that the fire of cremation would upset Mount Batur, the volcano overshadowing the village. Terunyan itself is placed between the twin dangers of the water of the lake and the volatility of the volcano.
I got there just by driving a motorbike, but there are plenty of tours you can book. Locals are friendly and the village is quiet and has a mysterious air to it. I met a family in the village who had a tour booked and went across the lake with them in a canoe with their guide for 300,000 IDR ($22.51).
Stefan and Sebastien : Nomadicboys
Recoleta Cemetery Junín 1760, 1113 CABA, Argentina
The cemeteries in Argentina are one of the most dramatic we’ve ever seen. When the Argentinians bury their dead, they’re not subtle about it. They have huge intricate monuments with statues in place of a simple grave. It’s fascinating and slightly creepy!
The most famous cemetery in Argentina is the Recoleta cemetery in central Buenos Aires, where Evita Peron is buried. Evita was famous wife of former president Juan Peron, a figure of pride for many Argentinians, as well as hatred for others.
In this cemetery, most come to visit and pay homage to Evita’s grave, but along the way you see some pretty dramatic grave memorials with statues, angels and more. It’s definitely one of the must see tourist attractions when visiting Argentina.
Read more in the boys Buenos Aires gay guide
John Widmer : Roaming around the World
Fairview Lawn Cemetery 3720 Windsor St, Halifax, NS B3J 3A5, Canada
The Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Canada, is most notable because its ties to the Titanic disaster.
Survivors of the infamous maritime tragedy were brought to New York. But the White Star Line had an office in Halifax which commissioned 3 ships with the task of recovering the victims from the icy waters.
Some of the Titanic’s victims were never recovered, while others were buried at sea. But a total of 209 bodies were hauled back to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The White Star Line paid for simple gravestones at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, many of which are unnamed because they couldn’t be identified. Meanwhile a few others have more elaborate tombstones, funded by family members, that tell the unfortunate tale of their demise.
Today the Fairview Lawn Cemetery has the grim distinction of being the final resting place of the most Titanic victims. Visitors can come wander the grounds today and pay their respects to Titanic’s victims. It’s a somber yet interesting aspect to this port town’s young history
Kate : Our Escape Clause
Bonaventure Cemetery 330 Bonaventure Rd, Thunderbolt, GA 31404 Savannah
Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah is eerie and beautiful in the way that certain old southern cemeteries are: Spanish moss drips from the oak trees, enormous statues of angels cry out to the heavens, and, if legend is to believed, ghosts walk among gravesites. I am not the type to believe in ghosts, but if there was ever a place that would make me doubt that, it is Bonaventure Cemetery: the entire 160 acres of sprawling graves is like something that has stepped out of a novel–it is not quite of this world.
The art alone is worth seeing: Savannah’s well-off residents of the past did not stop displaying opulence with death, and the gravesites are often marked with statues and elaborate carvings rather than simple headstones. While it would be tempting to stop at Bonaventure Cemetery on your way into Savannah, it’s better to leave this attraction for last: learn the history, hear the ghost stories, make note of some of the memorable deaths.
You’ll find many of Savannah’s famous characters in Bonaventure–and you’ll want to know what you’ve come across while wandering.
Read more about things to do in Savannah here
Gordon Arthur : Short Holidays and Getaways
The Burying Point, Salem Massachusetts
The Burying Point is the oldest burial ground in the city of Salem, MA. This is where many of the key players in the Salem Witch Trials, trials occurred in Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. were buried.
In January 1692, a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts became consumed by disturbing “fits” accompanied by seizures, violent contortions, and bloodcurdling screams. This was deemed to be witchcraft by the local doctor. John Hathorne, a Salem magistrate at the time, was appointed to be the judge at these trials of the young girls. He became known as the hanging judge as he demanded the girls of Salem confess to being witches and practicing witchcraft. He also coerced the to name other girls as witches also.
One of the accused witches Mary Corey was hanged during the Salem Witch Trials and is buried in the Burying Point in Salem Massachusetts, as are others involved in these trials.
There are tours of this cemetery, which brings to life the bizarre history of the Salem Witch Trials. It is a good idea, to read The Crucible by Arthur Miller before you visit the town of Salem, MA to remind yourself of what unusual times they were. There are fascinating tours of the cemetery, which bring to life the history of the Salem Witch Trials.
Alexa : 52 Perfect Days
El Campo Santo Cemetery, 2410 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110, USA
The Roman Catholic El Campo Santo (Sacred Ground) Cemetery dates back to 1849 and is located on San Diego Avenue in San Diego’s Old Town. It is the second oldest cemetery in San Diego. As with most cemeteries, there is a lot of history. Walking through the cemetery you’ll see make-shift headstones, typically made of two pieces of wood in the shape of a cross and some sites will have short write ups about the person buried in the ground below, while others almost go unnoticed.
477 bodies were buried here, but not all of them stayed within the walls of the cemetery. This is because, just two years after the last body was buried in 1880, a streetcar line was built through the graveyard, hence the reason for removing some of the tombstones. So, what is quite odd about this cemetery is many of bodies are buried beneath the street and sidewalk because of the streetcar that once made it’s way through this part of San Diego.
Today, if you take a look at the sidewalk and street directly outside the remaining cemetery, you will find grave markers. Needless to say, there are quite a few accounts of hauntings and ghosts in El Campo Santo Cemetery. The most widely seen apparitions in El Campo Santo cemetery are an Indian or Hispanic man in 19th century clothing.
The graves that remain today are few, so it only takes a few minutes to roam the grounds, but it is worth a visit and par of Old Town San Diego history.
Have you visited a graveyard during your travels, please get in touch and tell me about it.
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