19/06/13 at 2:41 pm
A grave yard or cemetery is a place where the dead lay in peace. It is the final destination of all Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths in which the dead are buried. Shown to be scary, haunted places in movies and in other depictions, in reality, grave yards are fundamentally there to let us know that when we are done and it is time to head back up, there is a place for us on Earth where our bodies and whatever that remains can be put with respect. Visiting grave yards makes people connected to their loved ones. It also makes us connected to history if we are to visit grave yards where the famous people of yesterday rest in peace. Across the globe, there are many famous grave yards. The fact that some grave yards are considered more important, famous or fascinating than others depends on the people who rest there, the beauty of the architecture and the historical importance of it all. Humans make beautiful cemeteries to honor the dead, to pay them a tribute. While normal people just need a 6 ft. hole in the ground, Egyptians built pyramids for their deceased.
Grave yards are a part of history. They give us insight about the people who built them and also about the people who lay there. A couple of centuries back, before the trend of having public parks became popular, grave yards served as picnic spots for families. As creepy as it seems in the world of today, it is true. Historians suggest that these grave yards gave people a sense of belonging to the past, a look at the art and architecture and delight of nature. The world of today has no lack of beautiful grave yards whatsoever. Their beauty and splendor sometimes takes men into a walk into time and serve as a pleasant place to rest in.
Jon Berendt, writer of the best-selling books “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and “City of Falling Angels”, argues that nothing gives better insight about the history, the people and their families, better than the cemeteries. Due to which he claims to visits the local cemetery when he is on a project. According to him, ““They’re a living representation of the culture, the history, the passion of the civilization that deposits its dead there; they’re a spiritual link to the past.”
Westminster Abbey, London
England is known to have a rich history. It has seen great leaders and monarchs come and go. Interestingly it has set apart a few places where the notable people in English history lay to rest. London is the heart of historical and beautiful graveyards, but the stand-out among these is the West Minster Abbey, located just around The Palace of Westminster. Although basically a church, it also serves as a burial place for the English monarch. It dates back a 1000 years, which in itself portrays its deep roots in history. It has the honor of being the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth I and great minds like Issac Newton and Charles Dickens. Other dignities of English history are also buried there. The importance of Westminster Abbey is enhanced due to the amounts of royal wedding it has held, making an ever increasing important part of English history.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague
More than 500 years old, located in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, the Old Jewish Cemetery is an amazing grave yard to see. It is the resting place of notables like Rabbi Löw (d. 1609), Mordechai Maisel (d. 1601), David Gans (d. 1613) and David Oppenheim. However, the importance of this cemetery is not mainly due to the people buried there but how they are buried there. This is due to the fact that the graves are set upon one another, leading to a pile of graves being built which has 12 layers as of today. It is said that the Jews of Prague had limited land at disposal to bury their dead. Therefore, they had to improvise and make use of whatever they could. The view of this cemetery is absolutely miraculous and makes it one of the stand-out cemeteries in the world. Although, Prague does not boast it much, it is a sight not to be missed.
Arlington Cemetery, Virginia
Considered by many to be the most beautiful cemetery in the United States, Arlington Cemetery is a military cemetery, made to serve as the final destination of war veterans, civil right activists and even presidents. This cemetery holds an important place in the heart of United States and functions as a symbol of valor and acknowledgement of such valor showed for the homeland.
It may not be hundreds of years old and dates back as far as the American Civil War, but the beauty and historical importance of it makes it one of the most visited cemeteries across the globe. The center of attractions here are the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and most importantly, the grave site of one of the most loved U.S presidents of all time, John. F. Kennedy. With graves of over 360,000 war veterans, just being there invokes a sense of patriotism in every American.
Taj Mahal, Agra
A monument of love, Taj Mahal is India’s leading tourist destination. A globally acknowledged masterpieces, it is considered the jewel of Muslim art in India. Built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz, it also serves as the symbol of love alongside being a mausoleum. It became UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1983.
It is a blend of Mughal and Persian architecture, dating about 400 years ago. It is said that the beauty and grandeur of the site made Shah Jahan cut the hands of the labors and architects who built it, so that a similar structure was not be built again. However, many historians dispute this.
Beneath the legendary structure lie both, the man who had the structure built, Shah Jahan and for whom it was built, Mumtaz.
Merry Cemetery, Romania
As the name suggests, this cemetery does not consider death a tragedy but something that comes to all mortals, something that could be accepted with a smile and open arms. Contrary to the image of cemeteries that prevails in popular culture, Merry Cemetery in Romania is one of the most colorful cemeteries in the world. One of Romania’s leading tourist attractions, this cemetery is famous for its colorful tombstones with paintings. These paintings are very deep and portray a picture of the person buried.
The concept of this cemetery deviates from the popular belief, which considers death as permanently solemn. In addition to this, the messages that the tombstones read are rather humorous. One of them reads “”Underneath this heavy cross. Lies my mother in law poor… Try not to wake her up. For if she comes back home. She’ll bite my head off.” Each grave tells a different story about the person that lays inside of it.
It is almost like accepting death and celebrating it, knowing if you cannot avoid it, cherish it.
City of the Dead, Cairo
Below the Mokattam Hills in Cairo, Egypt, is one of the most haunting cemeteries in the world. It has tombs and crypt structures, where the living work alongside the dead. Some consider it being close to history, to their ancestors. They, rather than being afraid, feel closer to their roots. The population of The City of the Dead is one of the poorest slums in all of Cairo. The structure may look like a movie scene from a zombie movie, where they show a deserted village. It does not look like a place where people would actually want to live, but they do. Its most recent population is estimated to be half a million which is absolutely astonishing knowing the conditions.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires
Constantly ranked by CNN and BBC as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, La Recoleta is more of a city than a cemetery, ample with straggling streets and often extravagant and beautiful buildings. It hosts graves of some of Argentina’s most famous figures, ranging from sports personalities to poets, scientists to politicians. Yet, settled within this cosmic maze is a dark marble tomb which draws the most attention. This grave is Eva Perón, who was a popular public figure and the First Lady of Argentina. It also hosts graves of numerous presidents and Nobel Prize winners. In addition, it also has the grave of one of Napoleon’s granddaughter, which depicts its roots which go deep in Argentine history and traditions. It is indeed, one of the most well-designed chefs-d’oeuvre for the hereafter.
Kalvryta Cemetery, Kalvryta
This cemetery is one of the most grief-struck cemeteries in the world. Here, many graves carry the same date of death, which is 13th December, 1943. The importance of this cemetery and the anguish and tragedy associated with this cemetery is due to the Kalvryta Massacre that saw the Nazi’s broke havoc upon the town. Overall, almost 700 civilians were slayed during the retaliations during Operation Kalavryta. 28 communities – towns, villages, convents and settlements – were destroyed. This marks the reason behind the formation of this cemetery being one of the saddest amongst all others.
The church was reconstructed after the genocide, but the clock stays fixed at 2:34 – the time, as a commemoration elucidates, “when the lament began.”
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Arguably one of the most visited cemeteries in the world, Père Lachaise Cemetery stands as the largest cemetery in the city of Paris. Home to the rich and famous dead people, it is no surprise that this cemetery is nothing short of being absolutely elegant. At every turn, there are expressive, provocative sculptures. It is a gigantic cemetery filled with trees, marbles and gravestones.
It is just over 200 years old and it is said that it had very humble beginnings with people even refusing to be buried there because it had no major history. After a campaign to move bodies to the cemetery, it stands today as a tourist destination of its own.
It should be noted that it is not just the beauty of it that attracts people towards it, but also the notable personalities that lay there. These include Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Camille Pissarro and many others. Today it has set standards for cemeteries across the world. It is truly one of the destinations that Paris likes to boast about.
Saipan and Banzai Cliffs Memorial, Island of Saipan
Saipan and Banzai Cliffs Memorial may not be the most visited or even elegant, but the story behind its existence and the agony associated with that story, makes it one the most famous and interesting cemeteries in the world. After the U.S forces defeated General Saito’s Imperial Japanese Army on 9th July 1944, Emperor of Japan Hirohito declared that none of the Japanese shall succumb to being war prisoners or they will no longer be considered Japanese. This, adding to the already overwhelming fear of being occupied, lead to thousands of Japanese people jumping off the cliff, including children and newborns.
The cemetery there is therefore, unplanned. The cliffs are covered with memorials of all those who died that day trying to avoid being captured, trying to avoid being labelled traitors. This location holds colossal importance in the history of Mankind. It is something that shows us the atrocities that war brings with itself. Families were eradicated that day, and thousands died in vain. It is one of the sites which does not teach us about the art and literature that our ancestors left us, but the mistakes they made from which there is an ocean to learn.
Cemeteries are pieces of land, with no real importance than the history and beauty associated with them. Every famous cemetery has an astonishing story behind it. Some are famous for their purpose, some for their beauty and some for the story behind them. What the matter of fact is that humans have the ability to find beauty in about everything. This had led to them having turned these cities of dead into tourist destinations. From meek stone monuments to the grandeur of the famous pyramids, human beings have spent considerable time and vigor providing the dead with a respectable place to rest in.