The designs of cemeteries are just as different as the ceremonies that take place at them. Whether ornate or sparse and solemn, the designs are often chosen as a way of honoring those who have passed on. Here are 10 of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
Milan Monumental Cemetery
Founded in 1866, the Monumental Cemetery in Milan, Italy, is borders on being a museum of classic art. At one time, the cemetery was only home to the rich and powerful. As such, it has some elaborate and extravagant tombs and mausoleums. The tomb of Italian entrepreneur Davide Campari is adorned with a life-size bronze statue of the last supper. Another tomb has a woman leaning over the grave, weeping.
La Recoleta Cemetery
La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is the final resting place of former Argentine first lady Eva Perón. It is often referred to as the city of the dead, as it is laid out like city blocks. Intricate mausoleums line the walkways within the cemetery. Each has a unique design, with many mimicking the design of Gothic chapels and Roman buildings.
Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, is one of the most well-known cemeteries in the world. The 624-acre cemetery has gravestones for over 400,000 people, including former presidents John F. Kennedy and William H. Taft.
The cemetery is open to the public and sees about 3 million visitors per year. The surrounding trees create a stark contrast to the white headstones that dot the cemetery. Perhaps the most well-known tomb is that of the Unknown Soldier, which sits atop the hill overlooking the cemetery. It is watched by an armed guard 24 hours a day.
St. Andrews Cathedral Cemetery
The cemetery at St. Andrews Cathedral lies on the ruins of one of Scotland's oldest and largest churches. The remains of the church are an enormous display of Gothic architecture situated next to the North Sea. The church was built in the mid-12th century but went neglected after the Scottish Reformation. Today, not much of the church remains, but you can still climb the stairs of the St. Rules Tower and take in the view below.
The Okunoin Cemetery in Mount Koya, Japan, is the country's largest. Over 200,000 people have been laid to rest on the grounds, including Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. As such, the cemetery is considered one of the most sacred places in all of Japan.
As you enter the grounds, a bridge takes you into the cemetery. Brick pathways weave around the tombstones, many of which are covered with moss and surrounded by towering trees, creating a quiet, secluded atmosphere.
The Merry Cemetery in Săpânța, Romania, is one of the most unique cemeteries in the world. Each grave is adorned with a one-of-a-kind cross painted with vibrant colors. Each cross shares the story of the deceased, and every cross is carved with images of people and angels. The stories are not somber or sad; instead, they're rather "merry" tales of those who once lived, which is a beautiful way of remembering loved ones.
The Highgate Cemetery, located in London, has been a landmark in England since 1839. It was built out of necessity as the city began to run out of room to bury the dead. In the beginning, the cemetery was the burial site for some of the city's richest. However, as the years went by, fewer people chose to purchase the extravagant burial spaces at Highgate Cemetery, and the cemetery suffered from poor maintenance.
In 1975, the Friends of the Highgate Cemetery formed to begin to restore the grounds. Still, much of the cemetery is overgrown with mature trees and shrubbery, making it a haven for wildlife. The east cemetery, which includes the final resting place of philosopher Karl Marx, is open to the public. The west cemetery is available for viewing by guided tour only.
Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery
The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives, located in the holy city of Jerusalem, Israel, is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world. It exists on a hill that was once a fertile olive grove, hence the name. More than 70,000 people have been buried on the grounds. The tombs lay side by side and encompass the entire hillside, making for a one-of-a-kind scene. From atop the hill, you can see the entire city, most notably, the gold-domed Temple Mount.
For over 3,000 years, the cemetery has been a burial ground for local residents and is one of the most sacred spots in the Jewish faith. Many believe that the dead will one day rise and walk down to the Temple Mount below.
The Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia, offers quite the view of the Pacific Ocean. The cemetery first opened in 1877 and has since seen over 80,000 burials. The cemetery continues to operate today, with its oceanside location making it one of the most popular burial locations in the area.
The Mirogoj Cemetery, located in the capital of Croatia, combines art, architecture, and meticulous landscaping to create a visual feast for visitors. It is both one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and one of the most stunning. The front walls are covered in lush vines, and the interior of the cemetery is covered with statues and artwork.