Tag Archives: Savannah

The 10 Most Beautiful Cemeteries in the World

3 Apr

While it might seem like a strange thing to add to your vacation to-do list, visiting cemeteries when you travel can be an interesting way to learn about a place’s history – not to mention see some of its most beautiful landscapes.

Primosten Cemetery, Croatia. Photo by Jessica Speigel

Primosten Cemetery, Croatia. Photo by Jessica Speigel

Of course, what constitutes a “beautiful” cemetery will depend on the viewer’s opinion. Some will be painstakingly landscaped, some will be historically meaningful, some will be haunting, and some will have stunning views. But in this selection of final resting places around the world we think everyone will be able to find one that deserves “beautiful” as a descriptor.

Père Lachaise – Paris

Père-Lachaise cemetery. Photo courtesy of extranoise via Flickr.

Père-Lachaise cemetery. Photo courtesy of extranoise via Flickr.

Père Lachaise is one of the world’s most famous cemeteries, largely thanks to its long list of famous residents. Fans of the late singer Jim Morrison have made pilgrimages to his grave for decades, painting other graves en route to his with Doors-inspired graffiti. Other famous names on Père Lachaise headstones include Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Eugene Delacroix, Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, Isadora Duncan, Moliere, and Marcel Proust. There are also many graves and tombs of people you won’t know that are even more beautiful than the famous ones. Take the Paris Metro to the Philippe Auguste stop, near the main entrance, and buy a cemetery map before you enter.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 – New Orleans

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Photo courtesy of JasonParis via Flickr.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Photo courtesy of JasonParis via Flickr.

You almost can’t go wrong with the cemeteries in New Orleans. They’re above-ground cities of the dead, thanks to the city’s low elevation, and every bit as hauntingly beautiful as you’d expect from a place steeped in Voodoo and vampire lore. St. Louis No. 1 is home to the tomb of Marie Laveau, the 19th century Voodoo priestess. There are other famous names from New Orleans’ history buried here, but its appeal is far greater than just local history. The cemetery is just outside the French Quarter, and guided tours (of this and any cemetery in New Orleans) are highly recommended.

American Cemetery – Normandy, France

American Cemetery - Normandy. Photo courtesy of stephenminnig via Flickr.

American Cemetery – Normandy. Photo courtesy of stephenminnig via Flickr.

Just up from Omaha Beach, where so many young soldiers fought and died during the Normandy Invasion in 1944, there’s a plot of land that’s US soil even though it’s well inside French borders. Across the pristine lawns of the 172-acre American Cemetery and War Memorial there are more than 9,300 simple white crosses and Stars of David, most of which mark the graves of men who died during the Normandy Invasion. Also in the area there are cemeteries for the fallen soldiers of Canada and Great Britain, as well as the largest (and most haunting) cemetery in the area – for more than 21,000 of the German soldiers who died in World War II.

La Recoleta Cemetery – Buenos Aires

La Recoleta Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Liam Quinn via Flickr.

La Recoleta Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Liam Quinn via Flickr.

The cemetery in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires is entirely composed of above-ground tombs, giving La Recoleta the same “city of the dead” feel of Pere Lachaise and the cemeteries in New Orleans. 94 of the tombs have even been added to the list of National Historical Monuments. Among the famous graves at La Recoleta you’ll find Eva Peron – known popularly as Evita – and many presidents of Argentina. You can take the bus to Avenue del Libertador and walk up the hill. Buy a cemetery map before you enter.

Primosten Cemetery – Primosten, Croatia

Primosten Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Gruenemann via Flickr.

Primosten Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Gruenemann via Flickr.

There are no famous names on the headstones in the tiny cemetery next to the church in Primosten, but should you end up in this tiny hill of a town on the Croatian coast it’s well worth a visit anyway. The small church and adjacent cemetery sit on top of the hill, affording all of those graves with a stunning view over the Adriatic Sea toward the islands just offshore. And because Primosten is so small and not a popular tourist stop (unlike nearby Split or Trogir), you’re likely to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the hilltop cemetery and its sparkling view.

Kokai Mausoleum and Okunoin Cemetery – Mount Koya , Japan

Okunoin cemetery. Photo courtesy of Stéfan via Flickr.

Okunoin cemetery. Photo courtesy of Stéfan via Flickr.

Japan’s largest cemetery is located at the mausoleum of Kokai, a 9th century Japanese monk, scholar, and artist who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism on Mount Koya. The Okunoin Cemetery contains more than 200,000 gravestones and 120 Buddhist temples, and Mount Koya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the things you can see in the Okunoin Cemetery are tombs with statues of UFOs, coffee mugs, and hundreds of statues of a Japanese deity who is supposed to protect children who have died – he is represented in the cemetery by small statues wearing articles of children’s clothing. You can reach the Okunoin Cemetery via the Nankai Electric Railway from Osaka’s Namba Station, followed by a cable car up the mountain.

Highgate Cemetery – London

Highgate Cemetery. Photo courtesy of loretahur via Flickr.

Highgate Cemetery. Photo courtesy of loretahur via Flickr.

You could be forgiven for mistaking London’s Highgate Cemetery for a park that happened to have a few graves in it rather than a cemetery that looks like a park. In fact, this Victorian cemetery is a nature reserve and is registered as a park. The fact that it’s also the city’s most famous cemetery is almost beside the point. Highgate is separated into two sections – the East Cemetery and West Cemetery – and you can only visit the latter with a guided tour. People buried in the West Cemetery include the wife and parents of Charles Dickens, but most of the famous graves are in the East Cemetery – including Douglas Adams, Malcolm McLaren, George Eliot, and Karl Marx. Highgate is near Waterlow Park, and the closest London Underground station is Archway.

Bonaventure Cemetery – Savannah, Georgia

Bonaventure Cemetery. Photo Courtesy of ann gav via Flickr.

Bonaventure Cemetery. Photo Courtesy of ann gav via Flickr.

The city of Savannah is widely known for its beauty, and that extends to the Bonaventure Cemetery. Bonaventure used to simply be an historic cemetery in an historic city, but after the success of John Berendt’s novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” the cemetery became a major tourist attraction. The book’s cover was a photograph of a statue called “Bird Girl” that had been in the cemetery for more than a half-century. When the book became a best-seller and the statue increased tourist traffic into the cemetery, it was moved to Savannah’s Telfair Museum of Art. Bonaventure Cemetery is still worth a visit for its historic significance, its huge live oaks dripping with moss, and the grave of Johnny Mercer.

Panteón de Dolores – Mexico City

Panteon Civil de Dolores. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Panteon Civil de Dolores. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Mexico’s largest cemetery, Panteón de Dolores, is crowded with more than one million interments and 700,000 tombs covering 590 acres. This is where you’ll find the graves of muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, opera singer Ángela Peralta, and many other notable Mexicans in the “Rotunda de las Personas Illustres.” The Panteón de Dolores cemetery itself is park-like in many respects, but it’s also sandwiched between two sections of the enormous Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. Especially in a city as big and busy as Mexico City, having a park as large as Chapultepec is a welcome respite – and almost as an added bonus, there’s an historic cemetery in there, too.

Capuchin Crypt – Rome

Capuchin Crypt. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Capuchin Crypt. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

While not exactly a “cemetery” in the truest sense, Rome’s Capuchin Crypt can be considered beautiful – as long as you’ve got a strong constitution and enjoy a little whimsy with your macabre. The row of small chapels underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini is decorated with the bones of the more than 4,000 Capuchin monks who had been buried in the crypt in the early 17th century. When newly deceased monks were buried, old skeletons had to be removed – and as those bones were removed, many of them were used in designs on the walls and ceilings of the chapels. The patterns are quite elaborate, and any student of the human body will likely enjoy identifying which bones are which. The faint of heart may want to skip this, but if your interest is piqued the Capuchin Crypt is on Via Veneto near Piazza Barberini. Donations are strongly encouraged.

The 10 Most Beautiful Cemeteries in the World Buenos Aires , croatia , France , Georgia , japan , London , Mexico City , new orleans , Normandy , Paris , Primosten , rome , Savannah

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March

7 Mar

Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors, for obvious reasons.  (Photograph by Anurag Kumar, My Shot)

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in March:

  • As the summer sun sets on the Southern Hemisphere, one Australian beach town isn’t quite ready to bid the season adieu. In Coolangatta, surfing greats like Kelly Slater duke it out on the waves at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (March 2-13) competition. While the riders paddle their way toward big cash prizes prize, spectators can keep their toes in the sand with meet and greets, live music, and shopping.
  • Call it a bruja brouhaha. Subscribers to the supernatural flood the streets of Catemaco, Mexico for the annual Noche de Brujas (March 1), a festival that fetes the ancient tradition of Mexican sorcery in a community that claims to be the world capital of witchcraft. Healers and local shamans abound, but if the magic fails, don’t fret. The calming lap of nearby Laguna Catemaco may be just as entrancing.
  • The Gathering Ireland, a yearlong initiative intended to draw the Irish diaspora back to their homeland, takes a literary turn this month at the Ennis Book Club Festival (March 1-3). Acclaimed author Joseph O’Connor will headline the event, but he’s not the only draw. The weekend will be filled with enough readings, seminars, and literary love-ins to appease even the most hardcore bookworms.
    Many women --

    Many women wear traditional dress during Las Fallas. (Photograph by Alexander Rostocki, My Shot)

  • Once a simple feast intended to honor the carpentry of Saint Joseph, today’s Las Fallas (March 15-19) in Valencia, Spain is a veritable ode to pyrotechnic prowess. Watch as local tinkers construct enormous effigies, only to set them ablaze on the festival’s final night. Not all the statues face the stake though. A citywide vote bestows clemency to the crowd favorite.
  • Foodies and oenophiles the world over have been flocking to Sonoma County for decades. Discover why at the California’s Artisan Cheese Festival (March 22-24). Farm tours, cheese making seminars, and pairing demos are all part of the program, but the festival’s location — with Napa Valley, San Francisco, and the Muir Woods just a stone’s throw away — may be the biggest star of all.
  • Music festival season is upon us. From Austin to Glastonbury, large crowds and loud sounds are an inextricable part of spring. This year, take the path less traveled to the principality of Andorra as it hosts its first ever ElectroSnow festival (March 30-April 1). What traveler in their right mind (and with enough scratch in their pocket) could resist a trip to the Pyrenees for a weekend of skiing and electronic music?
  • Savannah, Georgia may be known for its Southern charm and delightful squares decorated with Spanish moss, but it bleeds green on at least one day of the year. The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade(March 16), now in its 189th year, is one the largest in the world, and pays jubilant homage to the city’s unique Irish heritage.
    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C.  (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

    The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 1912 gift of cherry trees from the city of Tokyo to Washington, D.C. (Photograph by Sachin Nayak, Flickr)

  • Baseball hasn’t always hit it out of the park with the International Olympic Committee. After being axed from the summer games in 2012, the international baseball community responded with the World Baseball Classic (March 2-19). With opening games staged in stadiums from Taiwan to San Juan and everywhere in between, the quadrennial event is on pace to become a global institution.
  • Devotees of Krishna the world over descend on Vrindavan, India for Holi. The Hindu holiday celebrates Radha and Krishna’s love bond and the beginning of spring, with each major Krishna temple celebrating on a different day. But the most anticipated event takes place at the Banke Bihari Temple on March 27, where worshippers and visitors alike are doused in brightly colored powder.
  • Washington, D.C. ushers in spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20-April 14). Celebrating the end of winter and the enduring friendship between the U.S. and Japan, the beloved festival centers around the willowy sakuras that Nat Geo’s first female board member, Eliza Scidmore, played a vital role in bringing to the capital city.
  • Bali is back. A string of attacks left the island reeling, but tourists are once again flocking to this Indonesian paradise. Discover it for yourself during the Bali Spirit Festival (March 20-24), where music and movement come into perfect balance. By day, festival-goers attend yoga, meditation, and dance classes. When the stars come up, international musicians take the stage.
  • In Birmingham, England mankind celebrates man’s best friend at Crufts (March 7-10), the “largest annual dog show in the world.” Founder Charles Cruft’s first show, staged in 1886, boasted 600 entries. This year, the four-day event — which includes competitions, displays, and a trade show – will play host to more than 25,0o0 four-legged friends.

Event-o-Rama: 12 Must-Dos in March Andorra , Australia , bali , Banke Bihari , Birmingham , California , Catemaco , Coolangatta , ElectroSnow , Ennis , Georgia , Holi , india , Ireland , japan , Laguna Catemaco , Las Fallas , Mexico , Muir Woods , Napa , National Cherry Blossom Festival , Phoenix , Quiksilver Pro , San Francisco , San Juan , Savannah , sonoma , Spain , St. Patrick’s Day , Taiwan , tokyo , USA , Valencia , Vrindavan , Washington D.C. , World Baseball Classic