5    Jul 20110 comments

The Wonderful World of Cemeteries (and 3 of My Favourites)

Searching though cemeteries and graves is a key part of what we do as genealogists and family historians.

In my experience I’ve found that no two cemeteries are alike. Similarly, every grave and gravestone has it’s own story too.

The more time you spend in cemeteries the more you start to look at them differently – from that sad place you probably went to for the first time when an elderly family member passed away, to a peaceful place of beauty to, as you delve deeper into family history, a trove of information about people you’re researching and people in general as well.

And as you spend more time around them you start to find yourself becoming an aficionado of graves and cemeteries which is why a recent blog post over at GraveStoned caught my eye.

That post spoke about a “tidy” gravestone and juxtaposes it against a couple of others where, as the author politely puts it, “the stone carver ran out of stone before he ran out of letters”. Haha.

While we’re lucky these days to have ever growing digital archives of gravestones like those at Find A Grave and Billion Graves, there’s nothing quite like being in a cemetery itself.

During my travels I’ve come across a few cemeteries that have been memorable. Whether on the other side of the world or the other side of the road, they have had that little something which separates them from the many other cemeteries around the world.

There’s a mix of reasons why they’re my favourites – one is aesthetically amazing, another is essentially a celebrity cemetery and the third is what I think would be a great place to end up.

I’ve included those three cemeteries below but I’m keen to hear of any others you think are amazing.


La Recoleta Cemetery  – Buenos Aires

La Recoleta Cemetery (see below) can be found in the up-market Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is  the most grand cemetery I’ve been to.

Sure it’s most famous inhabitants are Eva Perron and a swag of ex-Argentinian Presidents, but that’s not important here.

The reality is the rest of the graves and crypts are just as magnificent as those belonging to the more famous names.  It’s very easy to see the influence Europe had on Argentina and to appreciate the way the Argentinians took the idea of a cemetery to another level


Pere Lachaise, Paris

Pere Lachaise cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris. It is situated in the 20th Arrondissement on the eastern edge of the city

The cemetery is full of celebrities which makes a trip there a fun experience.

As an example - Frédéric Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Camille Pissarro and even Jim Morrison of The Doors are buried there.

You can get a full list of well known people interred at Pere Lachaise, here.


Waverley Cemetery, Sydney

By no means world renowned, Waverley cemetery is close to where I live in Sydney, which is how I came across it.

While Waverley has no claim to celebrity or grandure of graves it has something that is even more amazing (in my opinion) – the perfect aspect for your final resting place!


Those are my favourites.

What are yours?

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