Cemeteries are the places you can least think of as far as popular attractions are concerned. Understandably, the idea of visiting a cemetery during a holiday seems creepy. But it’s a fact that cemeteries have become popular attractions, for a lot of reasons. They may serve as a good history lesson. Or you may want to visit the graves of the historical figures you admire and pay your respects to them. Or you just want to stroll at the lovely gardens.
Or you just want to have a slice of a peaceful moment. But the thing with these cemeteries on this list is that they’re visited by millions of tourists so looking for a quiet spot is challenging, but still possible. They’re worth checking out… and please do so while you’re still alive, because visiting a cemetery is not nearly as fun when you’re six feet underground (or aboveground)!
1) Père Lachaise Cemetery
Located in the 20th arrondissement (neighborhood) in Paris, France, Père Lachaise Cemetery is probably the most visited cemetery in the world. It receives 3.5 million visitors a year, so if you’re looking for a place of peace and quiet, go somewhere else!
Established in 1804, Père Lachaise is also the largest cemetery in Paris. The tombs are beautiful and some of them are quite ornate, especially the older ones. But the main reason why Père Lachaise is a popular tourist attraction is the number of famous “residents” — writers, musicians, poets, politicians, actors and actresses, French and foreigners alike. It’s the hub of the deceased rich and famous. They include French philosopher Peter Abelard, French actress Sarah Bernhardt, Polish-French composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin (whose heart is entombed at a church in Warsaw, Poland), American singer-songwriter and The Doors frontman Jim Morrisson (which is the most vandalized), and Irish novelist Oscar Wilde (which is covered with kisses from his admirers).
2) Hollywood Forever
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Hollywood Forever was established in 1899, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles. It is the cemetery of some of Hollywood’s “who’s who” – studio bigwigs, writers, directors, actors, and musicians. Appropriately for a “showbiz” necropolis, Hollywood forever contains gaudy tombstones and mausoleums, palm trees, peacocks, and reflecting pools. Paramount Studios is also located close to this cemetery.
Since Hollywood Forever is a manicured garden cemetery and cultural arts center, it is not surprising that several live concerts and other events are held there.
Notable burials include Burt Reynolds, Mel Blanc, Chris Cornell, Cecile B. DeMille, Judy Garland, Johnny Ramone and his Ramones bandmate Dee Dee Ramone, Estelle Getty, Scott Weiland, Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino. People are welcome to visit there to pay respects to their idols… and have a cool selfie besides Johnny Ramone’s statue.
3) Highgate Cemetery
London, England, United Kingdom
Highgate Cemetery is located in north London, England, established in 1839. At present, it is home to about 53,000 burials. It also serves as a nature reserve, providing a wonderful respite from London’s busy streets. Tombs and graveyards are now covered with creeping plants, and the Egyptian Avenue and Circle of Lebanon are just as impressive as ever.
Highgate Cemetery is one of the “Seven Magnificent” cemeteries in London, so named because it was built in a ring around London during the 1800s, when inner-city cemeteries had become overcrowded, resulting in putrid and stinky smell and corrupting the city’s water supply.
Notable burials include English scientist Michael Faraday, German philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Eliot, and singer-songwriter George Michael.
4) Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery
This massive cemetery is perched on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, which offers incredible vistas of the Old City of Jerusalem and a breathtaking vantage point of some of the most important religious sites in the world.
Being the world’s oldest Jewish gravesite, the Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery contains around 70,000 to 150,000 tombs from various periods. Rabbis, religious scholars, businesspeople, politicians, poets, journalists, and many other notable Israeli and foreign Jewish figures are buried there, stated Michael Freund, an author, syndicated columnist and advocate serving the Jewish community in Israel. He graduated with honors from Princeton University and received his MBA from Columbia University before moving to Israel where he has raised his family and continued to involve himself in humanitarian and political efforts. Though he’s been away from New York for over 25 years, he is still a loyal Mets fan.
5) Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.A.
As far as American cemeteries go, there is none more famous, respected, and patriotic than Arlington Cemetery. Established in 1860, it is the final resting place of more than 400,000 active-duty service members, veterans and their families. While it is overwhelmed by visitors, the organized rows white marble headstones, and the Tomb of the Unknown soldier, surrounded by guards, are sobering reminders of the sacrifice that Americans have made for the good of the country.
The Kennedy brothers – President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy – are buried there. John’s wife, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is buried alongside the tombs of her husband and two of their four children, both of whom died in infancy. President William Howard Taft and astronaut John Glenn are also buried there.