Travel

The 13 Coolest Cemeteries to Visit BEFORE You Die

Published On 08/31/2015 Published On 08/31/2015

Because visiting a cemetery is not nearly as fun when you're dead, we put together this bucket list of 13 fascinating graveyards to hit while you're young, spry, and not in a box.

Flickr/Naddsy

Waverley Cemetery

Sydney, Australia
Why you’re visiting: The ocean views

Since it opened in 1877, about 80,000 people have been laid to rest on the cliffs of Australia's famous rugged coast (the ultimate “down under," right?). The cemetery, which is located where the popular Bondi to Coogee path meets the town of Bronte, is known for the Victorian and Edwardian monuments that stand above the graves of cricket legend Victor Trumper (cricket kills us with boredom, too), poet Henry Lawson, and over 200 war veterans.
 

Flickr/Allessandro Grussu

Okunoin Cemetery

Mt. Koya, Japan
Why you’re visiting: The awesome monuments at this Buddhist pilgrimage site include everything from spaceships to eternally-lit lantern temples.

This forested site on the side of Mt. Koya is where Kobo Daishi -- the founder of Shingon Buddhism -- lies in eternal meditation and, as such, it's where many devoted followers want to be buried. So many, in fact, that it’s the largest cemetery in Japan. Grave markers line the path to Daishi’s mausoleum, and each salvation-seeker’s tombstone is more unconventional/weird than the next -- look for the memorial dedicated by a local pesticide company to termites, and for statues that mimick monks and coffee cups. You can't make this up, people.
 
 

Flickr/sfgamchick

Bonaventure Cemetery

Savannah, GA
Why you’re visiting: Because it looks like a set out of True Blood, and if you’re ever gonna get 'turned,' this is your best shot.

This resting-ground-cum-sculpture-garden is all old oaks and eerie Spanish moss, and we’re willing to bet that Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman would approve. The 100 acres of this former plantation are scattered with Southern Gothic monuments, and these grounds became iconic after they appeared in Clint Eastwood’s 1997 film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.   

Flickr/young shanahan

The Merry Cemetery

Sapanta, Romania
Why you’re visiting: For a lighter take on life after death

Be careful what you do in the town of Sapanta because if you were, say, to accidentally croak, your tombstone in the local burial ground might feature a tongue-in-cheek poem about your vices and a cheeky illustration to match. You know, assuming the locals really got to know you. The “merry” cemetery features over 600 ornately carved, colorful wooden crosses, often with a dark or extremely literal take on the life of the body that lies beneath it, whether it’s a car accident victim, an alcoholic, or a lifelong sheep herder.

Flickr/Greg Willis

Panteón Antiguo de Xoxocotlán

Oaxaca, Mexico (Learn how to pronounce it correctly, here)
Why you’re visiting: This is one of the best places to experience the Day of the Dead

Try not to trip over the masses of orange/pink flowers and flickering votives, or eat from the plates of the deceased’s favorite foods, while you navigate through groups of mezcal-sipping families at this cemetery; on October 31, these grounds come alive with those looking to honor their dead family members and friends. It’s a skeleton-Halloween-costume-inspiration playground and a photographer’s dream.
 
 

Flickr/Andy Sedg

Highgate Cemetery

London, England
Why you’re visiting: To see the cemetery’s most famous dead dude, Karl Marx

Highgate is one of seven garden-like cemeteries that were built in a ring around London in the 19th-century, when inner-city burial grounds had become overcrowded and putrid and stinky. Today, this is a shady place (as in, from the sun, not for finding sketchy dudes selling smack) for an escape from the city -- Gothic tombs and buildings are now overgrown with ivy, and the vault-lined passageway known as the Egyptian Avenue is just as impressive as ever.

Flickr/Scott Beale

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Los Angeles, CA
Why you’re visiting: For a selfie with that cool statue of Johnny Ramone

This place is like a who’s who of studio founders, writers, directors, and performers in Hollywood history -- it’s where the industry’s biggest players go to die. Appropriately, the scene here is full of gaudy tombstones and mausoleums, peacocks, palm trees, and reflecting pools; and live concerts/movie screenings aren't uncommon on the cemetery’s manicured lawns. There’s even a memorial for Toto.

Flickr/Todd Murray

Neptune Memorial Reef

Key Biscayne, FL
Why you’re visiting: For a new spin on scuba diving

Here in the land of conch fritters and Key lime pie, people's cremated ashes (and small tokens of their memory) are mixed with cement to create stately columns that stand in a manmade reef inspired by the lost city of Atlantis. Or if that's too flashy, you can also have your ashes molded into the modest shape of a shell or starfish.

Flickr/emile lombard

Cimetière du Père Lachaise

Paris, France
Why you’re visiting: To fit in with your study abroad friends, as this is the most visited cemetery in the world.

Marketing this place as the hub of Paris’ dead rich and famous was the only way to get the burial hype started here back when it opened; since then, business has boomed -- the list of famous corpses now buried there includes Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, and Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani. Wilde’s tomb is one of the garden cemetery’s most famous and is covered in the lipstick kisses of admirers.

Flickr/Dave Kliman

Calvary Cemetery

New York City, NY
Why you’re visiting: To see the millions of New Yorkers who actually do sleep

There’s more gray than green on these 365 acres of burial grounds that stretch across Queens. Aside from amazing vistas in which towering monuments appear to be extensions of the skyscrapers on the city’s skyline, the cemetery hosts the bodies of some of the builders and protectors who made the city what it is today. There’s also a huge contingency of mobsters buried here, and the grounds even served as a burial scene set in the thanGodfather.

Flickr/matito

Punta Arenas Cemetery

Punta Arenas, Chile
Why you’re visiting: For a visual feast of stark white tombs next to meticulously manicured hedges

It’s just a short walk from the center of Punta Arenas, but a trip to this cemetery is more like a step back in time. Here, the corpses of some of Chile’s most elite sit beneath opulent tombs and mausoleums -- some bright white and decorated with bursts of colorful flowers, others painted in vivid colors themselves. Just don’t be the idiot who tries to walk through the eternally closed front gate -- one of the cemetery’s notable residents paid for that gate to be built with the stipulation that it would close forever after her body crossed it. So, yea, it's closed.

Flickr/hceebee

South Park Street Cemetery

Kolkata, India
Why you’re visiting: To take a break from the frenetic streets of India (and gulp as much fresh-ish air as possible before you have to leave)

This Christian cemetery dates back to the 1700-1800s, when architecture in colonial India often boasted a mix of both Western and local influences. The vibe here is overgrown tropical jungle scattered with crumbling tombs and mausoleums (that may or may not be haunted) that mimic the disrepair of the city’s most majestic buildings during the era. 
 

Shutterstock

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

New Orleans, LA
Why you’re visiting: To cover your bases, just in case voodoo is a real thing

This hot-as-hell labyrinth of above-ground graves is now only accessible by private tour, but still well worth the visit. Made famous by its appearance in the 1969 film Easy Rider, the cemetery is set to eventually welcome another movie star into its ranks -- Nicolas Cage has commissioned a pyramid-shaped tomb here in anticipation of his death by rotten tomatoes. And don’t forget to swing by the grave of voodoo queen Marie Laveau if you’re even the slightest bit superstitious.

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