Oct 29, 2009 4:50:55 AM
Graveyard goodtimes: the world's best cemeteries
With Halloween and Day of the Dead fast approaching, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to subjects spooky and supernatural. Kids running around in ghost costumes…charismatic vampires…moonlit cemeteries – they’re all part of the fiendish fun.
But for many travellers, visiting cemeteries gives them a thrill no matter what time of year it is. And so, in no particular order, we give you some of our favourite afterlife attractions.
Père Lachaise may be Paris’ big-name cemetery, hosting legends like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison in its leafy grounds, but Montparnasse has its own charms. Namely, an all-star cast of resting residents – Serge Gainsbourg, Man Ray, Charles Baudelaire and Julio Cortázar to name a few – plus pretty landscaping that provides just the kind of tranquillity you’d hope for in the hereafter….
They didn’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary, and they’re not. Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone ended up somewhere far ritzier: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, to be precise. Recently restored, this gorgeous graveyard is also home to some of Hollywood’s finest, including Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Cecil B. DeMille.
Broaden your horizons at Waverley Cemetery – in the form of a sweeping cliff-top panorama between Bronte and Coogee beaches. On a sunny day, this slightly ramshackle graveyard is beautiful; in winter, there’s something almost Wuthering Heights about it. Either way, it’s got ocean views to die for.
Sure, they’re all about the dearly departed, but how often are cemeteries actually decorated with them? In the crypt cemetery attached to the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione, the ancient bones of some 4000 deceased Capuchin monks form a surreal subterranean swirl of light fittings, arches and ceiling details. Skeletons clad in religious robes drive the message home: death happens to the best of us.
While not really a cemetery in the conventional sense, the ancient Pyramids of Giza are an enduring – and enduringly enigmatic – testament to death and the afterlife. More than 4000 years after their construction, these incredible structures continue to mystify and amaze. How were they built? Why the astronomical alignment? Whatever happened to the Sphinx’s nose?
Clocking in at an impressive 1,000,000 sq m, this mammoth necropolis is Mexico’s largest. While not as picturesque as some of the other cemeteries on this list, the Panteón Civil de Dolores is worth a visit for its Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres (Rotunda of Distinguished Persons), where many of Mexico’s most heroic and beloved figures are buried, including Diego Rivera and Dolores del Río.
La Recoleta’s reputation precedes it: as the final resting place of none other than Eva Perón, its place in Buenos Aires’ heart is assured. But while Evita occupies top billing here, she’s ably supported by a veritable Who’s Who of defunct Argentine VIPs, an imposing neo-classical entrance, serene tree-lined walkways and some eye-poppingly ornate mausoleums.
Grand, gothic and gloriously atmospheric, Highgate is home to the tombs of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, George Eliot – even Charles Dickens’ parents. It provided a suitably spooky setting for the Hammer Horror epic Dracula AD 1972, while its infamous resident vampire caused a media frenzy back in 1970. Graveyard ghouls, this one’s for you!
Poets’ Mausoleum (Maqbaratoshoara), Tabriz
And now for something completely different. Tabriz’ marvellous Poets’ Mausoleum is a dramatic modernist building bearing little resemblance to any other tomb you’ll come across in your travels. Designed as a tribute to Persian poets, scholars and mystics, it forms an impressive focal point in a graveyard dating back almost a millennium.
Morbid or romantic? Quirky or just plain weird? Cemetery tourism is a documented phenomenon, but not everyone’s a fan. Do you visit graveyards when you travel, or do you stick to the land of the living? We’d love to hear your cemetery sentiments…