Burial sites may be places to mourn the deceased but they can also be uplifting places to visit. We want to share some of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries and the writer who traveled to more than 150 of them.
“Visiting cemeteries on vacation makes me feel more connected to people, to the past and to life itself. It also helps me understand what the surrounding community values,” said Loren Rhoads who wrote about her travels in the book Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and on her blog CemeteryTravel.com
Rhoads isn’t alone in her fascination with cemeteries; you can find hundreds of cemetery-related groups on Facebook and a nonprofit called the Association for Gravestone Studies has 11 chapters in the United States. “Gravers” is also a growing subculture where people have a shared interest in recording and photographing headstones.
The world’s most beautiful cemeteries “draw visitors with a combination of natural beauty, ornate tombstones, notable residents, vivid history and even wildlife,” writes Lanee Lee. Some of the most popular ones have even become mainstream tourist destinations.
One of the best known in the United States is the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia. It was featured in the John Muir book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf before it was featured in the book and movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. “The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm grandeur of the oaks mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light,” Muir writes.
Maybe the most famous cemetery in the world is Paris’s Père Lachaise, which attracts more than 1.5 million visitors every year for its beauty and notable residents like Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison.
If you’re interested in visiting cemeteries in your travels, Rhoads writes, “you may be moved by a visit to the Mount Koya cemetery in Japan” where 10,000 lanterns illuminate the forest setting or by “taking a coastal walk in Sydney, which brings you to Waverley Cemetery, whose cliff-side Victorian monuments face out to the ocean, sparkling in Australia’s near-constant sunshine.”
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