If you’re a fan of a particular musician, writer or even politician from the past, it’s natural to be curious about their gravesite and where they’re buried. In fact cemeteries have been popular tourist destinations for centuries as worshippers mourn the passing of well-known figures.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
We start the list off with the Pere Lachaise Cemetery as it’s probably the best known gravesite in the world, thanks largely to some big name residents. Who wasn’t obsessed with The Doors singer songwriter Jim Morrison in their youth – I know I was – and most visits to Pere Lachaise are to view Morrison’s grave which sadly has to be guarded to prevent graffiti. Pere Lachaise covers 110 acres on the outskirts of Paris and was opened in 1804. Today there are over 1 million gravestones, belonging to many famous people including Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, French singer Edith Piaf, mime artist Marcel Marceau, novelist Marcel Proust and American author Richard Wright. As well as rock stars there are also many well-known French artists are buried there such as Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro, Georges-Pierre Seurat and Paul Signac. Pere Lachaise then became a blueprint for American Cemeteries from 1831.
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA
Military cemetery Arlington National lies just outside Washington DC and the 360,000 war veterans graves are sobering and thought provoking. Many visit to see the graves of John F Kennedy, whose was only one of four state funerals to be held here. He is buried at Arlington alongside his wife and 2 of his children and lies close to his two brothers remains; Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward M "Ted" Kennedy who have both been buried here.
Graceland, Memphis, USA
Legendary rock and roll performer Elvis Presley died in 1977 and is buried at Graceland, his personal estate in Memphis, Tennessee. Along with his parents and grandparents ‘The King’ is buried in the Meditation Garden; his body has to be moved two months after his death as there was an attempt to steal Presley’s body!. On the day of his funeral some 80,000 fans lined the route to the cemetery. Today visitors can buy tickets to visit the Graceland estate which is open 7 days a week.
Highgate Cemetery, London
Situated in the north London suburb of Highgate and Grade I listed, there are many famous gravesites here amongst the 170,000 interments. Author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams, novelist George Eliot, Karl Marx and ex-sex pistol manager Malcolm McLaren are buried in the East Cemetery. Highgate Cemetery is also the site of fictional cemeteries in film and literature such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and various British horror films.
Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, USA
The Crown Hill Cemetery is the third largest (non-government) cemetery in the US and covers 555 acres with 25 miles of paved roadway. There are many notable interments including US President Benjamin Harrison, novelist Booth Tarkington who won two Pulitzer Prizes and legendary bank robber John Dillinger (played superbly by Johnny Depp in Public Enemies). The sprawling grounds are as much of a draw with over 150 different plant and tree species, with over 4,000 trees in total.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
There are nearly 5,000 vaults at the La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires and is the burial site of First Lady Eva Perón aka Evita, the Nobel Prize winner in chemistry Luis Federico Leloir and many other respected Argentine figures such as prime ministers and politicians. Many people visit to pay respects at the Eva Peron tomb but as it’s a family tomb it’s not marked as ‘Peron’ so a little prior research is needed.
Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass, USA
The Mt Auburn cemetery was the first rural cemetery in the USA and is today home to the architect Buckminster Fuller, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and psychologist B.F. Skinner.
This Halloween you could combine a cemetery visit with a suitably spooky ghost tour somewhere in the world. Halloween is a great excuse to get dressed up and to learn about the history and heritage of the festival too.
Norra Begravningsplatsen, Sweden
The Norra Begravningsplatsen cemetery opened in 1827 to the north of Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm. There are several famous Swedes buried here including Alfred Nobel the founder of the Nobel Prize, actress Ingrid Bergman and Ulrich Salchow, the Olympic figure skater. The UNESCO recognised Skogskyrkogården Cemetery in south Stockholm contains Greta Garbo’s grave.
First Cemetery of Athens, Greece
The Athens cemetery opened in 1837 and contains many ornate tombs of famous Greek celebrities and politicians, such as actress and politician Melina Mercouri, poet Giorgos Seferis and several Greek Prime Ministers such as Charilaos Trikoupis, George Papandreou and Andreas Papandreou.
Edgwarebury Cemetery, Barnet, London
Troubled singer Amy Winehouse passed away in July 2011 and is recognised at the Jewish Edgware Cemetery in North London. She shares a black gravestone with pink writing with her grandmother. Amy isn’t actually buried here as she was cremated after her death.