On the 31st of October, the Western world celebrates the old pagan festival of Halloween. But for every other day of the year departed souls are remembered in places called cemeteries or graveyards. Many of these sites are big tourist attractions and are famous for the celebrity graves that they house.
Pere-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
This is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris and spans 110 acres. Among the notaries are Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison, and Oscar Wilde. The design of the cemetery has been copied throughout the world; its combination of trees and marble and its sea of gravestones has set the benchmark for world class cemeteries.
La Recoleta, Buenos Aires
One cemetery that you will never forget visiting is La Recoleta. It is the site of 4,691 vaults and remarkably all of them are above ground. There is a diverse range of architectural styles on display from art deco to neo-gothic and most of the materials were imported from Paris and Milan. Famous people who reside there after death include Eva Peron who was the protagonist of the musical Evita.
The amazing Zentralfriedhof in Vienna is one of the largest cemeteries in the world. There is an old Viennese joke that the cemetery is half the size of Zurich and twice as much fun. It is the final resting ground of Beethoven and Strauss. It is rumored that the two ghosts jam together on Halloween night. A spooky symposium if ever there was one.
Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC
This is the site of burial for over 360,000 American veterans. Most visitors head straight for John F. Kennedy’s grave, but the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every thirty minutes is just as memorable.
Sao Joao Batista Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro
If you were a president in Brazil you probably ended up here, along with famous poets, playwrights, musicians, and singers. It is located in the neighborhood of Botafogo and was the first cemetery in Latin America to be added to Google Street View.
Highgate Cemetery, London
Many films are set in this particular cemetery including “Taste the Blood of Dracula” and “From Beyond the Grave” but it is not just film buffs that come to visit, staunch communists and liberal arts students are keen to see the tomb of Karl Marx.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague
Different to most famous cemeteries this one bears no graves of famous people. However, it is the burial ground of 12,000 Jewish souls and it one of Europe’s most haunting sites.
Prazeres Cemetery, Lisbon
This cemetery happens to be at the end of the popular tourist tram in Lisbon so tourists often stumble upon it unintentionally. Its tombs are among the biggest in the world; the Duke of Palmela has a huge pyramidal mausoleum which is the largest in Europe. Its name may seem inappropriate as it means pleasures, but that is just the name of the neighborhood. On the hill, you can enjoy great views of the city.
Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh
There are many ghost stories associated with the Kirkyard cemetery in Scotland. In 2004 a pair of teenagers entered the tomb via the ventilation slot, they reached the lower vault broke into the coffins and stole a skull. Police arrived and caught them playing football with the skulls on the grass. This takes playing heads and volleys to another extreme.
Merry Cemetery, Romania
One of the world’s most ornate graveyards is in Romania. The 900 graves are marked with oak carvings, art, and poetry tells tales of each person’s life. One such epitaph for a man fond of his alcohol reads “Leave a little wine”.