Cemeteries are a place of mourning and remembrance for families that have lost a loved one. But so often their historical significance and dark beauty attract visitors from around the world.
The 12 cemeteries on this list are notable for their unique architecture, rich history, and geographical allure.
1. Arlington National Cemetery – Washington DC
Arguably the most famous cemetery in the United States, Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for over 400,000 American heroes including veterans from wars spanning the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
2. Neptune Memorial Reef – Miami, FL
Yes, this is an underwater cemetery! At over 16 acres, the Neptune Memorial Reef will be the largest man-made reef in existence upon completion. The Memorial Reef is a cremation memorial site where ashes can be interred in a columbarium, buried, or scattered, and family members can dive down to the reef to visit their loved one’s memorial.
3. Fairview Lawn Cemetery – Halifax,
Fairview Cemetery in Halifax is best known as the final resting place for over one hundred victims of the Titanic disaster in 1912. After the tragedy, only several dozen recovered bodies were returned to their families. The rest were buried in three Halifax cemeteries including Fairlawn, which houses the beautiful monument to the “Unknown Child”.
4. Whalers Bay Cemetery – Deception Island, Antarctica
After whaling was banned and the industry dissolved, an entire Antarctic island was abandoned including the memories of those that once worked and lived there. Deception Island is now a ghost town and all that remains are some rusted buildings, whale skeletons, and the largest cemetery in Antarctica containing 35 burials and a memorial to ten men lost at sea.
5. Ruriden Columbarium – Koukokuji Buddhist Temple in Tokyo
This may be the most high-tech cemetery in the world! The Ruriden Columbarium is home to 2,046 small altars, with glass Buddha statues corresponding to drawers storing ashes of the deceased. Families can visit their departed loved ones with a smart card that grants access to the building and lights up their corresponding statue.
6. City of the Dead – North Ossetia, Russia
This ancient gravesite located in North Ossetia doesn’t get many tourists, likely due to its eerie secluded feel and the myth that no one returns once they visit. The isolated cemetery houses crypts that date back to the 16th century, and bodies are buried inside of wooden structures resembling boats.
7. Waverly Cemetery – Sydney, Australia
Set atop the cliffs at Bronte in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Australia is Waverly Cemetery. With the first interment taking place in the late 1870s, Waverly Cemetery is rich in history and is the final resting place of silent movie actors, famous poets, athletes, and more. At over 40 acres, this beautiful Australian cemetery boasts over 50,000 gravesites and memorials.
8. Punta Arenas Cemetery – Punta Arenas, Chile
Punta Arenas Cemetery located in the southern Chilean region of Patagonia is one of the most visited attractions in the city — not surprising considering it was recently ranked one of CNN’s top 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world. Immaculately trimmed cypress trees, stark white mausoleums, and the fact that the cemetery is the last resting place of pioneers, immigrants, and families that colonized this isolated region make Punta Arenas Cemetery a unique and popular destination.
9. Merry Cemetery – Sapanta, Romania
The paradoxical name of this Romanian cemetery comes from the vivid colors of the tombstones and the amusing, and sometimes satirical paintings describing the lives of the person buried at that spot, and sometimes the manner of their death.
10. Newgrange – Meath, Ireland
The oldest “cemetery” on this list is undoubtedly Newgrange – a passage tomb located outside of Dublin, Ireland that dates back to 3,200 B.C. The large flat-topped cairn is nearly 5,000 square meters in extent and is said to have at one time housed cremated remains of the wealthy farming community that once prospered on the rich lands of the Boyne Valley. Inside, a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof is the scene to an amazing Winter Solstice event – an opening above the entrance allows in sunlight on just one day a year.
11. Cross Bones (Single Woman’s Churchyard) – London, England
Not traditionally beautiful or awe-inspiring, Cross Bones Cemetery in London is so spectacular because of it’s unique history. A plaque outside this now disused cemetery reads, “In medieval times this was an unconsecrated graveyard for prostitutes or ‘Winchester Geese’. By the 18th century, it had become a paupers’ burial ground, which closed in 1853.” For all intents and purposes, Cross Bones was used as a burial ground for those denied a Christian burial for one reason or another.
12. Fag el-Gamous Cemetery – Faiyum, Egypt
Dating back to the 1st-7th Century AD, this unmarked cemetery discovered just south of Cairo, Egypt is estimated to be the final resting place for over one million “natural” mummies and skeletons. You won’t find any royalty buried here. But archaeologists have already excavated 1,000 “common” people buried without coffins or other grave goods, and estimate the total burial count is near one million. Notable findings so far include a mummy over seven feet tall and an infant dressed in a tunic, colorful booties, and jewelry.
Have you seen any amazing or noteworthy cemeteries? Share where they are in the comments below!