3 must-see cemeteries

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Death. An experience we probably all have to share (unless that darn science doesn’t hurry up), so you might as well face your fears and take a moment to reflect on the lives of the great and not-so-great with a tour of one of these must-see cemeteries

Death. An experience we probably all have to share (unless that darn science doesn’t hurry up), so you might as well face your fears and take a moment to reflect on the lives of the great and not-so-great with a tour of one of these must-see cemeteries. (Our featured image is by dvs)

Karl Marx's tomb at Highgate Cemetery, London
Karl Marx’s tomb at Highgate Cemetery. Photo by vintagedept
Malcolm McLaren's Grave, East Cemetery, Highgate, London
Malcolm McLaren’s grave, East Cemetery, Highgate. Photo by David Holt London
Patrick Caulfield's grave at Highgate Cemetery, London
Tombstone of Patrick Caulfield, Highgate Cemetery East. Photo by rvacapinta

Highgate Cemetery, London

Not only is this set in a picturesque hilly part of London, but it’s perhaps the most celebrity-heavy resting place on Earth. Most famous is the large bust adorning the grave of infamous loafer Karl Marx.

Amongst the many other creative and surprising resting places is Malcolm McLaren’s cheeky “Malcolm was here” wooden plinth, and possibly the most darkly amusing tombstone on the planet, that of artist Patrick Caulfield.

Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans. Photo by Michael Bentley
A long row of tombs at Saint Louis Cemetery New Orleans
A long row of tombs at Saint Louis Cemetery. Photo by Michael Bentley
The grave of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen, Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
The grave of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen, Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans. Photo by (cc) David Berkowitz www.marketersstudio.com / www.about.me/dberkowitz
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans. Photo by cliff1066™
Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
City of the Dead: Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans. Photo by Derek Bridges

Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans

Unlike the majority of places in the world, most of the departed in New Orleans over the last couple of centuries have actually been buried above ground. The three areas that make up Saint Louis are each a dense multitude of small tombs, creating a “city of the dead” effect.

New Orleans is also famous for its celebratory funeral processions, so combine the two and you’ve got yourself a macabre but truly must-see experience.

Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland
Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland. Photo by Adam Zulawski
Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland
Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw. Photo by eisenbahner
Visitors line up to get inside Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw, on All Saints' Day
Visitors line up to get inside Powązki Cemetery on November 1 (All Saints’ Day). Photo by Adam Zulawski

Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw

One of the most famous cemeteries in Poland is always worth a look for its stunning architecture and statues, but for something uniquely surreal, visit on All Saints Day (1 November). The day is a national holiday and every cemetery in the country is swarmed with Poles visiting the departed. Powazki in particular has crowds queuing outside as if Led Zeppelin were playing a concert with Pink Floyd.

Inside, violinists play mournful solos on each corner and TV camera crews film Polish celebrities doing the rounds, whilst hordes shuffle through as if in a theme park, leaving thousands of candles upon the graves.

Glowing lights at Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw, Poland
Glowing lights at Powazki Cemetery, Warsaw. Photo by Adam Zulawski

Visit after sunset and the sea of glowing flames in every direction will simply stun you.

Author: Adam Zulawski (245 posts)

I'm a freelance writer and Polish-to-English translator. I blog about travel for Cheapflights and run TranslatingMarek.com. Download my free e-book about Poland's capital after it was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis: 'In the Shadow of the Mechanised Apocalypse: Warsaw 1946'