It’s the time of year to celebrate our dear ones departed. Here are 17 cemeteries that represent a little piece of the part of the world they are found in. Often spectacular and always a little eerie, these graveyards are not merely the resting place of our beloved deceased, but also serve as invaluable historic resources that give evidence of settlements past.

1. Aoyama Cemetery – Tokyo, Japan

In spring, the cherry blossoms bloom in Aoyama cemetery and with the skyscrapers of Tokyo providing a striking backdrop, this graveyard paints an interesting contrast between the peace of eternal rest and the buzz of the living. Hachiko the dog, famous for his demonstration of loyalty and fidelity to his owner, which even 9 years after his death stood unwavering, is buried here.

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2. Cementerio Nuestra Señora De La Salud – Cordoba, Spain

Constructed in the early 19th century, this cordovan cemetery is remarkably beautiful with its eclectic mix of tombstones. Here you can visit the tombs of some of Andalusia’s most famous bullfighters,  “Manolete”,  “Guerrita” and “Machaquito”.


3. Cimetière du Père Lachaise – Paris, France

Possibly one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, Paris’ Cimetière du Père Lachaise is the resting place of numerous notable people such as piano master Chopin, rockstar Jim Morrison and writer Oscar Wilde. One particular tombstone, that of Georges Rodenbach, is especially creepy as it depicts him breaking out of his grave. Let’s hope nothing comes to life this halloween.


4. Cimitero Monumentale – Milan, Italy

With a range of architectural styles evidenced throughout the cemetery, from Egyptian to Art Nouveau and everything in between, it’s easy to understand why Cimitero Monumentale is one of the most visited sights in Milan. Its striking presence rendered it the perfect setting for a memorable scene in the movie I Am Love.


5. Green-Wood Cemetery – Brooklyn, New York

“It is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon the Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.” 

Revered for its beauty and prestige, Green-Wood Cemetery is the resting place of famous New Yorkers from the latter half of the 19th century. Filled with important statues and monuments, and set in the rolling hills of Brooklyn, Green-Wood is a must-visit when in New York. Notable residents include artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who died at only 27, and Albert Anastasia, mafia boss and founder of contract killing organisation Murder Inc, among many, many others.


6. Greenock Cemetery – Greenock, Scotland

Visiting Greenock Cemetery will take you a step back in time. It is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and was opened in 1846. The cemetery includes memorials for those killed in action in World War 1 and for the May bombings of 1941. Henry Robert (Birdie) Bowers, who died on the return of an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, is one of the famous people buried here.


7. Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery – Chai Wan, Hong Kong

Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery and many other cemeteries in Hong Kong cling to the cliffs in a sensational way. But the Chinese won’t be honouring their dead on Halloween. Traditional festivals include the Hungry Ghost Festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, where homage is paid to ancestors departed and the Double Ninth Festival and the Qing Ming, or Tomb-sweeping, festival, where relatives tend to the graves of their ancestors.


8. Merry Cemetery – Săpânța, Romania

The colourful tomb stones in the Merry Cemetery are a far cry from the usual solemn mood of cemeteries! The work of Stan Ioan Pătraş since 1935, the Merry Cemetery remembers its residents through beautifully carved and painted tombstones, each bearing a darkly humorous epitaph. Here’s one of them:

“Here I rest.

Stefan is my name.

As long as I lived, I liked to drink.

When my wife left me,

I drank because I was sad.

Then I drank more

to make me happy.

So, it wasn’t so bad

that my wife left me,

Because I got to drink

with my friends.

I drank a lot,

and now, I’m still thirsty.

So you who come

to my resting place,

Leave a little wine here.”


9. Cementiri de Montjuïc – Barcelona, Spain

This Mediterranean hillside cemetery has sea views, cypress trees and in excess of a whopping one million burials. Following the tradition of burying the dead above ground, one can wander through walls of tombs up to eight people high – a chilling experience. The tomb of surrealist artist Joan Miro can be found in this miniature city.

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10. South Park Street Cementery – Kolkata, India

Covered in moss and rich in foliage, this cemetery is a peaceful haven hidden in Kolkata that offers a glimpse of British Colonial India. Opened in 1767 and built in the Indo-Saracenic style, crumbling tombstones certainly add to the South Park Cemetery’s haunted feel.


11. American Cemetery – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

The impeccably manicured lawns of this cemetery are the resting place for over 5000 American servicemen. A beautiful tribute to those that lost their lives serving their country, a visit to this cemetery is sure to have a profound effect upon its guests.


12. Vysehrad Hrbitov Cemetery – Prague, Czech Republic

Located in castle grounds, Vysehrad Hrbitov Cemetery is one of the most significant cemeteries in the Czech Republic. Containing 600 tombs of prominent Czech people including painters, poets and playwrights, the cemetery has been described as “an impressive gallery of modern Czech sculpture”.


13. Waverley Cemetery – Sydney, Australia 

With its prime location atop the cliffs of Bronte in eastern Sydney, Waverley Cemetery offers views worth dying for. This famous cliffside cemetery, open since 1877, is filled with beautiful white marble tombstones belonging to important figures that helped shape the history of Australia including Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar.


14. La Cambe War Cemetery – Bayeux, France

La Cambe War Cemetery contains the remains of over 21,000 German military personnel from World War II. A tranquil Peace Garden composed of 1,200 maple trees surrounds the War Cemetery.

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15. Caterpillar Valley Cemetery – Longueval, France 

On a stormy day, the effect of grave upon grave upon grave can be particularly sombre, especially as Caterpillar Valley Cemetery is a burial ground for fallen allied soldiers of World War I.


16. Chinese Cemetery – Gilgit, Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway, an important connection between Pakistan and China that follows one of the ancient routes of the silk road, resulted in the death of approximately 5000 people during its construction. The Chinese workers were buried in this cemetery in Gilgit.


17. Okunoin cemetery – Kongobuji, Japan

As one of the most sacred spots in the country, Japan’s largest cemetery is mystically enchanting with its moss covered tombs and towering cedar trees. Okunoin cemetery is the resting place of feudal lords and Buddhist monks but one may also be surprised to find a memorial from a pesticide company to pay tribute to all of its termite victims. Night time visits are highly recommended.

Photo by Andrea Schaffer

Photo by Andrea Schaffer

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