When you think of vacation, cemeteries probably aren’t the first thing that comes in your mind. Technically, in common practice, graveyards and cemeteries are defined as the same. While graveyards are attached to a church/churchyard, cemeteries are burial grounds independent of a particular building. Some people are creeped out by burial grounds regardless of their title, but there are people who love visiting cemeteries or graveyards for fun. The graving hobby encompasses a range of activities such as tombstone tourism, genealogical gravers, preservationist gravers and so on.
And then there are people who love to spend time in a website known as Find a Grave, where they can look at millions of graves and the story behind each person. Whether you are into that sort of thing or not, here are 10 unique cemeteries from around the world that you must visit before you inhabit one.
1. The Merry Cemetery, Săpânţa, Romania.
In the town of Săpânţa, Romania, lies the “Merry Cemetery”, where wooden crosses bear the life stories, dirty details and final moments of over 600 people. The cemetery is filled with stories ranging from soldiers being beheaded to a townsperson being hit by a truck. One of them reads,
“Underneath this heavy cross. Lies my mother in law poor… Try not to wake her up. For if she comes back home. She’ll bite my head off.”
2. La Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The mausoleums in the Recoleta Cemetery are fairly small but is the final resting place of many of Argentina’s wealthiest and most famous families and personages. Designed by French engineer Próspero Catelin, the cemetery includes graves of several presidents, scientists, and wealthy characters. The remains of former first lady Eva Perón can also be found along with the tomb of Rufina Cambacérès, who was buried alive.
3. Highgate Cemetery, London, United Kingdom.
The British cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful garden, filled with solid obelisks. It holds the remains of a number of notables, including Karl Marx. There’s also the Circle of Lebanon, which is a set of tombs built around an ancient cedar tree. People have reported several cases of supernatural sightings around the cemetery and in 1970, two dueling magicians setup a vampire hunt in order to find any supernatural power.
4. Cemetery at Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca, Mexico.
On November 1 of every year, the cemetery at Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca, Mexico, truly comes alive for Dia de los Muertos. Also known as the Day of the Dead, surviving loved ones in the magic light of late afternoon clean the grave sites and fill it up with altars, candles and marigold petals. By late evening, the cemetery turns into an arena for a party with picnics, musicians, and Pan de muerto (Spanish for bread of the dead).
5. Cementerio General, Santiago, Chile.
Located in Santiago, Chile, Cementerio General is the largest cemetery in South America. According to CNN, it is also one of the world’s most scenic cemeteries. The cemetery is filled with large mausoleums, detailed sculptures, and peaceful gardens which spreads over 210 acres (85 hectares). This lavish and expansive cemetery is a history enthusiast and explorer’s dream. The cemetery is more of an urban park for those seeking refuge from Santiago’s bustling city center.
6. Waverley Cemetery, New South Wales, Australia.
Located in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Waverley cemetery is a state heritage cemetery. It is also one of Sydney’s oldest continually operating funeral suppliers, caring for families since 1877. The Waverley cemetery was also listed as one of the top 10 beautiful cemeteries by CNN in 2013. Several important Australians have been buried in this historical cemetery.
7. Sengakuji Buddhist Temple Complex, Tokyo, Japan.
Built by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun of Edo era, the Sengakuji is an establishment of Dogen’s tradition. This small, otherwise unremarkable temple in Minato ward is the resting place of the 47 Samurai (or 47 Ronin). The story of the 47 Ronin is a staple of inspirational legend in Japan. Sengakuji Temple has a modern museum and their graveyard at the far end of the temple, is inspiring in its stony simplicity.
8. Maqbarat-o-shoara, Tabriz, Iran.
Maqbarat-o-shoara or the Mausoleum of Poets is located in Surkhab district of Tabriz in East Azarbaijan province. Around 400 poets, mystics and luminaries of Iran have been laid to rest there. The first poet buried in this complex was Asadi Tousi. The modern arches contrast against the traditional architecture, making it a unique place to visit.
9. Poblenou Cemetery, Barcelona, Spain.
The statue shown in the picture is known as The Kiss of Death, which was designed by Joan Fontbernat and carved by Jaume Barba in 1930. The cemetery is filled with such works by famous artists and sculptors, which gives it a great artistic and historic interest. Poblenou cemetery is really a small museum of funerary art, filled with sculptures and harmonious corners. In 1775, Napoleon’s troops marched through the cemetery and completely destroyed it but in 1819, based on a design by the Italian architect Antonio Ginesi, the cemetery was restored.
10. Neptune Memorial Reef, Key Biscayne, Florida.
The Neptune Memorial Reef is an underwater cemetery off the Coast of Florida. The underwater mausoleum of cremated remains is located 5 miles east of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida, and is also the largest artificial reef in the world. Spanning over 65,000 square meters on the ocean floor at a depth of 12 meters, the memorial is an underwater mausoleum for the cremated remains of divers and sea lovers.