Halloween is right around the corner I wanted to pay homage to all things spooky with a list of some of the eeriest cemeteries I’ve visited over the years.
Père Lachaise, Paris France
“We die only once, and for such a long time.” — Molière
Located in one of my favorite cities, this is possibly one of the most well known cemeteries around the world. Famous musicians, writers, politicians and thousands of others are found within its 110 acres (most notably Jim Morrison, Balzac, Molière, Chopin, Edith Piaf, and Oscar Wilde). It is still an active burial place but you must have either died in Paris or are French to have this as your final resting place. (Metro stop Gambetta)
Can’t get to Paris any time soon? Take a virtual tour at http://www.pere-lachaise.com/
For an extra scare, head down to the Catacombs of Paris. Created in the 18th century as a way to deal with overcrowding burial issues, the bones, skulls and mass graves are artistically arranged as you weave through narrow passage ways 20 meters below the streets of the city. Hundreds of steps down lies 6-7 million Parisians and I kicked up the spine-chilling a notch by going one afternoon on a Friday the 13th.
Cimiez, Nice France
Cimiez is a northern neighborhood of Nice, and at one time it was a Roman settlement so there are several ruins still standing today. While walking around near the Archeological Museum and the Matisse Museum in the Cimiez area of the city, I stumbled upon a stunning 16th century Franciscan Monastery with grounds overlooking the city. The garden offers spectacular views of Nice and this cemetery and grounds are worth the trip. The painters Henri Matisse and Raoul Dufy as well as Nobel Prize winner Roger Martin du Gard are also buried here.
Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Sitting high on the hill overlooking the Schuylkill River the Laurel Hill Cemetery is one of the country’s largest, oldest and few cemeteries listed as a National Historic Landmark. When running along Kelly Drive you can see just how vast this 78 acre cemetery is as obelisks, tombs and mausoleums dot the hillside. Laurel Hill is home to several US political figures, Civil War Veterans and a handful of victims of the Titanic. They offer informative, creative and intriguing tours monthly with a program of events on their website.
Every year they host a Gravediggers Ball to raise funds for cemetery upkeep.
Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow Scotland
Across from the Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis boasts an amazing view of the city. It’s not surprising that I appreciated the haunting beauty of the sculptures, architecture and layout as this cemetery was modeled after the french Père-Lachaise cemetery. What began as a peaceful park morphed into a Victorian cemetery after the Cemeteries Act in 1832. Interested in the history of religion? Check out the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art across from the Cathedral.
Free tours are offered by volunteers, but they fill up quickly so email them at the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis website to secure a spot.
Monastic City, Glendalough Ireland
A 6th century early Christian settlement, the Monastic City has church and fort ruins, an impressive bell tower as well as headstones scattered throughout the area adjacent to Wicklow National Park. It’s an amazing historic site surrounded by the tranquility of the mountains. Make sure you find St. Kevin’s cross, a massive celtic style cross carved out of one giant piece of granite. Folklore says that if you can wrap your arms around the monument and your fingers can touch all of your wishes will be granted. Glendalough translates to the valley of two lakes so make sure to spend time taking in the beautiful scenery the park has to offer. They have great walking and hiking trails including the Wicklow Walks giving you an opportunity to explore.