Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top 10 Unusual Cemeteries

I like to visit cemeteries when I travel, always seeking out old tombstones, unique mausoleums, and lovely park-like settings. I've had a few related posts to this theme: Check out: 
Halloween Haunts and Tombstone Tours,  
31 Places Around the World to Go for Halloween: Real & Creepy,  
Cemeteries Hold Parties to Die For 
Day of the Dead Chocolate

In many cultures and religions, cemeteries (from the Greek koimeterion or Latin coemeterium, meaning sleeping place) are used for death ceremonies, burial, mourning, and memorial. Unusual or historical cemeteries have also become popular tourist attractions-- cemetery tourism, the ‘dark’ side of tourism, is a growing phenomenon around the world. I don't find this odd at all since people used to congregate in cemeteries on weekend afternoons for picnics.

Today's List of Top 10 Unusual Cemeteries is from Timeea Vinerean at  Toptenz.

10. World’s First Public Pet Cemetery: Cimetiere Des Chiens. a cemetery for dogs and other domestic animals, is said to be the world’s oldest public pet cemetery. Asnières-sur-Seine, Paris, France. Opened in 1899. The most famous gravestone belongs to Rin Tin Tin, the legendary American dog that starred in various Hollywood movies.

 9. Highway to Hell? Stull Cemetery. Located in Kansas, this cemetery has gained the reputation as one of the world’s most haunted cemeteries. There are so many legends, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings surrounding it that even Pope John Paul II allegedly ordered his private jet not to fly over Stull while he was on the way to a public appearance in Colorado in 1995. The Pope considered Stull “unholy ground”.

8. Winchester Geese: Cross Bones Graveyard. Traditionally called the Single Women’s Graveyard, dates back to medieval times. It was the final resting place for prostitutes (locally known as the Winchester Geese) working in London’s legalized brothels.
Tudor historian John Stow wrote in his 1603 Survey Of London: “These single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman’s churchyard, appointed for them far from the parish church.”

7. Natural Mummies from Mother Nature: La Chiesa dei Morti, The Church of the Dead, Urbania,  Italy. Inside lies the Cemetery of the Mummies, which was built in 1833. Famous for its strange phenomenon of natural mummification. According to specialists, the process is caused by a particular mold that has absorbed moisture from the corpses leading to the complete desiccation of the bodies.

6. The Mafia Cemetery. Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery.  In the 1990s, Yekaterinburg was known as ‘The crime capital of Russia.’ Many of the leaders of the Russian Mafia lived there and Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery was the final resting place for many of them. Very expensive tombs, black marble, precious stones, laser-engraved images and life-size granite gravestones are common here.

5. The World’s First Underwater Cemetery: Neptune Memorial Reef (aka the Atlantis Memorial Reef or the Atlantis Reef) World’s first underwater mausoleum for cremated remains and the world’s largest man-made reef. Opened in 2007, off the coast of Miami Beach.

4. The Merry Cemetery.  Northern Romania. Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by hand in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow. Tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these persons passed away.
 3. How Do I Bury Thee, Let Me Count the Ways…The Bridge to Paradise, in the Xcaret Nature and Cultural Park, Mexico. Cemetery simulates a hill with seven levels representing the days of the week and 365 colorful tombs on the outside depicting the days of the year. Main entrance is a stairway with 52 steps that represent the weeks of the year. Each grave is different from the others in design and building materials. One might look like a replica of a famous cathedral, while the next one looks like a sofa or a bed with headboard and pillows.

2. Mysterious Hanging Coffins of China. Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province. Hanging coffins is an ancient funeral custom found only in Asia: there are hanging coffins in China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some coffins are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, while some lay on rock projections. Other coffins are simply placed in caves. The hanging coffins of the Bo people in Gongxian, Sichuan Province, the Guyue people of Dragon Tiger Mountain and the Guyue people of Wuyi Mountain are the most famous. The Wuyi Mountain coffins are the oldest; some are more than 3,750 years old.
 1. Ancient Egyptian Burial Grounds. The Cemeteries of Giza and the Valley of the Kings. The Giza Plateau, the site of the mysterious Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and thousands of tombs. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and biggest. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it houses the body of Pharaoh Khufu and was built with more than 2 million stones over a period of 20 years. The Valley of the Kings, a World Heritage Site, is known to contain more than 60 tombs and 120 chambers. It was the main burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom.

Read more, HERE.

Hat Tip: Bill Crider


Pattie @ Olla-Podrida said...

I LOVE cemeteries! I think one of the most unusual burial grounds I've seen is the crypts beneath Center Church on New Haven Green in New Haven, CT. Click here for a collage of pictures.

Bobbi Mumm said...

I loved reading about the Single Women's Cemetery in England. Great stuff, Janet!
In Paris we lived very near the Catacombs where, starting in the 18th C., they laid out the disinterred bones of millions of people in the underground tunnels of the abandoned stone quarries. The cemeteries above ground were overflowing so they had to move the bones underground.
The Catacombs are playing a big role in my current mystery thriller.

Janet Rudolph said...

Cool, Bobbi, and we'll expect a guest blog when it's published. "-)

Donald Durant said...

"It is said that many cemeteries are raising their costs of burials....based on the cost of living!!! It seems we have to start shopping around for deals."

Maddy said...

Such a variety - creepy picture.

Gerrie Ferris Finger said...

Who knew cemeteries could be such fun. ;-D

Anonymous said...

Not nearly as spectacular but extraordinarily peaceful are the cemeteries in the Land Between the Lakes. This area was made when the Tennessee Valley Authority built hydroelectric dams and created two lakes between Kentucky and Tennessee. They moved the cemeteries from the land that would be submerged. Beautiful country and very peaceful.

Toby Gottfried said...

We visited the Kerameikos Cemetery in Athens that has a fascinating museum full of ancient Greek cemetery statuary. But the walk on the grounds is best of all. I copied the following from Goggle:

Within the site are the ancient walls of Athens and the Sacred Gate which was only used by pilgrims from Eleusus using the sacred road to and from that site during the anual procession. Nearby is the Dipylon gate which was the main entrance to the city, where the Panathenaic procession began and where the cities prostitutes congregated so they could make themselves available to weary travelers. It was from this spot that Pericles gave what was probably his most well-known speech honoring those who had died in the first year of the Peloponesian war.

The cemetery in Prague in the old Jewish quarter next to the Old-New Synagogue, established in the first half of the 15th century is also worth a mention. Rabbi Loew associated with the Golem legend is buried here and other luminaries of Jewish history like Avigor Karo, the Jewish poet and scholar.

There is also the Highgate Cemetery in London, where Karl Marx is buried as well as many Victorian authors. Mel Hunt, Joanne and Bill and I spent hours walking the grounds but I see on Goggle that you may not go unaccompanied by an official tour or guide any longer due to previous vandalism.

Janet Rudolph said...

Thanks, Toby, forgot to mention the Cemetery in Highgate and didn't know you couldn't wander any more. The Cemetery in Prague is one of my favorite, albeit sad, cemeteries. Was there the day before the revolution.

Top ten lists said...

The Merry Cemetery in Romania is the strangest cemetery I ever seen.

Mary T. said...

Great list! One correction--the dog cemetery in paris is the second oldest operating burial ground for animals. The oldest operating one is Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, est. 1896, just no. of NYC.