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Five Cemeteries To Visit

Prague Jewish Cemetery

I’m not morbid and yet I do honestly enjoy visiting cemeteries, especially when they’re historic and rich in lore and legend. Cemeteries are incredibly peaceful and a testament to the passing times. Allegheny Cemetery and Homewood Cemetery right here in Pittsburgh are two relatively unknown gems worth visiting and Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery was one of my favorite parts on my visit to that city last year. And so here are five cemeteries from around the world I hope to visit one day.

Père Lachaise Cemetery-Paris, France

I’ve been to the City of Light three times and never made it to the city’s most famous final resting place. Part of it has to do with the fact that it’s quite removed from the city center. Another reason is that I know that when I get there, I wouldn’t want to be rushed, not to mention I know it would take some time to seek out various famous graves since it’s incredibly large and sprawling. Some of the graves I would most definitely want to search out include those of Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Frédéric Chopin. There are innumerable things I want to accomplish on my next trip to Paris but you can bet that Père Lachaise is at the top of the list.

Trinity Churchyard-New York City

There’s so much of New York City I’ve never seen, including those attractions located in Lower Manhattan, including the Trinity Churchyard located at 74 Trinity Place at Wall Street and Broadway (there are two other burial grounds associated with Trinity Church in Manhattan). The churchyard cemetery opened in 1697 and was the final resting place for countless historical and well-known figures including Alexander Hamilton (a prominent individual during the Revolutionary War, he also served as the first Secretary of the Treasury), Francis Lewis (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), and Richard Churcher (a child whose grave is marked with the oldest carved gravestone in New York City). One thinks of New York as this place that “rose to fame” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and yet it’s been around a lot longer than that.

Fairview Cemetery-Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I’ve always been interested in the history of the Titanic and so naturally I would like to visit a spot that is tragically so well equated with it, Fairview Cemetery. It served as the final resting place for over one hundred victims of the RMS Titanic. While most are memorialized with small granite makers with the name and date of death, the occupants of a third of the graves, however, have never been identified and their markers contain just the date of death and marker number. William Denton Cox, a heroic steward who died while escorting third class passengers to the lifeboats, is also buried here.

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery-Thailand

Countless backpacking bloggers visit Thailand each year and with the exception of a small number of them, very few ever seem to visit and/or write about the country’s infamous ties to World War II. By that I’m referring to the Thai-Burma Railway which was constructed in 1942-1943 by American, European, and Australian POWs of the Japanese Army. Thousands of them died as a result of doing so. The whole area of Kanchanaburi features countless memorials to the lives that were lost there but I’d especially like to visit the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, the main cemetery associated with victims of the Burma Railway. More than 6900 mainly British, Dutch, and Australian POWS. (The remains of Americans were repatriated.) I know it would be an incredibly depressing and emotionally heavy visit, and yet it’s one I couldn’t see myself not doing.

Old Jewish Cemetery-Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Jewish Cemetery in the Czech capital of Prague is one of the main reasons I would like to visit. In addition to its incredibly historic origins (it was in use starting in the early 15th century), it’s also home to approximately 100,000 graves, even though only 12,000 of the tombstones are actually visible. This is due to the fact that in Jewish law, Jews must not destroy Jewish graves and in particular, are not allowed to remove the tombstone. So when the cemetery ran out of space and Jewish officials were not allowed to purchase extra land (the Jews of Prague were forced to live in a designated ghetto), more layers of soil were placed on top of the existing graves, the old tombstones were taken out and placed upon the new layer of soil. This is why the tombstones in the cemetery are placed so closely to each other and resulted in the cemetery having 12 layers of graves. When I see pictures of this resting spot, I am spellbound. I can only imagine how much more incredible it is to visit in person and photograph.

 

Are there any cemeteries you would like to visit?

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    JP
    April 7, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Riverside Cemetary in Asheville, NC is a beautiful place, yet eerie at the same time. It’s the final resting place for some famous people including O Henry and Thomas Wolfe. I used to visit there to escape the crowds, it was very peaceful.

    • Reply
      Julie
      April 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Thanks for commenting JP! I’m not familiar with Riverside Cemetery but it sounds like just the place I would have loved to visit. And how neat that O’Henry is buried there. I’ll have to check it out on my next trip to Asheville for sure!

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