Even if you’re not a taphophile (someone with a heightened love of funerals, graves, and cemeteries), you might miss out of on some of the world’s most elegant architecture and sculptures even though they may not be in the most “lively” places. Here is a list of 6 cemeteries you need to put on your travel itinerary – they’re fascinating hidden treasures of cities around the world.
Graceland Cemetery, Chicago
Amongst the everyday hustle and bustle of the North Side of Chicago lies the Graceland Cemetery designed by visionary landscape architects. Founded in 1860, Graceland is hailed as the most “modern” cemetery in existence. The Chicago cemetery is also known as the “Cemetery of Architects” because the cemetery is home to notable architects including William Saunders, who designed some of the cemetery’s most iconic tombstones.
Following Saunders’s architecture work in the Chicago cemetery, a succession of individuals contributed to the long evolution of Graceland’s landscape, including H. W. S. Cleveland, William Le Baron Jenney, and O. C. Simonds.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home to over 6,000 statues, coffins, crypts and sarcophagi, La Recoleta Cemetery is home to some of Argentina’s most notable individuals, including Eva Peron. The walkways in this labyrinthine of the dead are shadowed by towering marble mausoleums rich in neo-gothic architectural styles, masonic symbols, and powerful religious iconography.
About 100 of the tombs are listed as national historical monuments including the tomb of Eva Perron, the former first lady of Argentina. In 1822, La Recoleta became Buenos Aires’s first public cemetery and it was designed by French engineer Prospero Catelin whose works include the country capital’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Plaza de Mayo. See Buenos Aires’s top attraction when you travel here.
Waverley Cemetery, Sydney, Australia
Draping the clifftops between Clovelly and Bronte beaches, the white marble gravestones glare in the Australian sunlight. Since its opening in 1877, 8,000 people have been buried at the Waverley Cemetery including writers Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar, and cricketer Victor Trumper.
An iconic Sydney landmark along the coastal walkway at Bronte beach holds heritage significance and large intact Victorian and Edwardian monuments. Architecturally, Waverley Cemetery is significant in that it showcases examples of Stonemasonry and funerary art dating back from the 19th century.
Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia
Since the cemetery’s origins, it has been the resting place for nuns of noble origins, war heroes, historians, merchants, and philosophers. Some of the most notable interred here are Boris Yeltsin, Anton Chekov and Nikita Khrushchev.
Just 50 feet away is the grave of Mstislav Rostropovich, the renowned cellist, and conductor, who died the same week as Yeltsin. The new section of the cemetery was laid out to become the cities most elegant place to be interred. As dwellers travel the cemetery’s paths, it may evoke imagery of a sculpture park, however these sculptures are tombstones each telling a personal story.
Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Romania
The Merry Cemetery provides a brief glimpse into the deceased lives with over 1,000 blue wooden crosses each illustrated with a bright, colorful picture and a darkly-humorous poem. For 30 years, Dumitru Pop has been creating these lively masterpieces carrying on a tradition that begun in the 1930s by his mentor.
When someone in the village passes away, the family of the deceased asks Pop to create a unique, hand carved cross from oak wood. Pop alone decides what picture and poem will be carved onto the hand crafted cross.
Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca, Mexico
On October 31, the Day of the Dead, the streets of Xoxocotlan overflow with flower sellers as families make their way to Xoxocotlan’s cemeteries. The cemeteries come alive with candles and flowers that decorate the tombs as the families wait for the return of the spirits of their loved ones. Even if visitors don’t get a chance to make it to the cemeteries on the Day of the Dead, the densely packed cemeteries feature elegant tombstones and mausoleums.