Tremble with fear at the Highgate cemetery in London
Take your time to wander around the Highgate cemetery, where about 150,000 men and women rest since the 19th century. The large necropolis is located a few miles from the heart of London, and you'll feel immersed in the ruins of a lost civilisation. At the corner of a wooded alleyway, you'll find the graves of various public figures such as Karl Marx, singer George Michael and even famous KGB agent Alexandre Litvinenko. If you're a Sex Pistols fan, take a break in front of their manager Malcolm McLaren's sepulchre.
Lovers of fantastic stories will appreciate the guided tour of the West cemetery, dating back to 1839! We just recommend you don't drag on when night falls: you'd cross paths with the famous vampire that, according to legend, haunts the place. Unless the phantom of Elizabeth Siddal gets to you: she was painter and Pre-Raphaelite master Dante Gabriel Rossetti's muse.
London N6 6PJ
Literary stroll at the Père-Lachaise in Paris
The Père-Lachaise cemetery is Paris' largest green space, with more than 5,000 trees of all kinds, which leafy branches jealously defend thousands of crypts, vaults and simple graves. The cemetery is also a refuge for numerous birds, like the flycatcher and the redstart, but also bees. Some of them have taken up residence in the buzzing head of a statue, figure of the French Third Republic politician Casimir-Perier.
Cynics will note that the bigger the mausoleum the more chance that its member elect be lost in oblivion. You may therefore rather visit the more modest-looking graves of immortal poets and writers, composers and other artists. The list is long: Musset, Apollinaire, Balzac, Proust, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Rossini, Géricault, Pissarro, Sarah Bernhard, Édith Piaf and even Jim Morrison. In the same fashion, you'll enthuse over masterpieces of 19th-century sculptures by Guimard, Visconti, Garnier, Barrias, David d'Angers and Chapu, for whom the Père-Lachaise cemetery acts like an open-air museum.
Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
16, rue du Repos
+33 (0)1 55 25 82 10
Christopher Columbus' cemetery… in Havana!
Do not look for Christopher Columbus' grave in the cemetery that bears his name in Havana for it is not there. Built between 1871 and 1886, it was conceived by architect Calixto Arellano de Loiray Cardoso, a graduate of the Bellas Artes in Madrid. This is one of the largest cemeteries in the world with 57 hectares of straight alleyways dotted with Rococo and Neoclassical mausoleums and family vaults, and its Central Chapel, modelled after Il Duomo in Florence, radiating at the centre. Reflecting Cuban society, the cemetery is organised into areas, almost like neighbourhoods, according to the status of the occupants: priests, soldiers, aristocrats, the poor, immigrants, atheists… Close to writer Alejo Carpentier's and filmmaker Santiago Álvarez's sepulchres, one of the most poignant graves is that of La Milagrosa (The Miraculous), a young woman buried with the body of her new-born at her feet. Legend has it that when the grave was reopened a few years later, the baby had crawled into her mother's arms. Since then, it has become a symbol of hope for anxious mothers and bashful lovers.
Cristóbal Colón Cemetery
+53 7 8321050
Solemn moment of reverence in Washington
A few miles from Washington, the Arlington military cemetery houses the remains of thousands of soldiers killed in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The visit of the vast necropolis is at once moving and melancholic. It belonged to General Robert E. Lee, and was confiscated in 1861 after he sympathised with the Confederates. You will also be charmed by the soothing greenery and lawns, as well as the quiet and winding alleyways dotted with rows of headstones and majestic trees.
Look for the grave of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, assassinated on November 22nd, 1963. There, you can contemplate the eternal flame started by his wife Jackie during his funeral. JFK lies next to his brothers, former U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy and senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. Do not forget to pay your respects by the grave of the unknown soldiers, under military guard 24/7, where impressed visitors maintain absolute silence.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, VA 22211
In Los Angeles, Marilyn rests in peace
West of Los Angeles in the little Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park cemetery, you can't miss the grave of a 20th century icon: Norma Jeane Baker, a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe, who passed away on August 5th, 1962. Her pink marble grave, located on the Corridor of Memories slot 24, every day sees numerous fans paying their respects to the actress of Niagara or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In 2009, one of the adjoining sepulchres was auctioned to a passionate admirer for $4.5 million… An ideal spot to spend eternity!
One of Marilyn's close neighbours is none other than Hugh Hefner, Playboy magazine's founder, who passed away in September of 2017. While walking through the alleys, you'll also come across various Hollywood film stars Burt Lancaster Nathalie Wood, Gene Kelly, Dean Martin, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Falk, but also famous writers such as Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury and Truman Capote.
Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary
1218 Glendon Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
+1 310 474 1579
Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires
Two steps from the Atlantic Ocean in Buenos Aires, you'll shiver when entering the Recoleta Cemetery. Stroll around the particularly well-liked gardens and admire its architecture conceived by French engineer Próspero Catelin. Located in the prestigious Recoleta district, the necropolis houses the remains of many important figures, most notably Argentinean politicians or writers like Adolfo Bioy Casares, José Hernández and Victoria Ocampo.
If you have time to spend, walk around the large paved alleyways and don't hesitate to explore the winding rows between the graves and tombstones! You will notice Tomás Guido's remarkable grave (with large stones taken over by plants and a rusty wrought iron gate marking the entrance, it's impossible to miss), or Eva Perón's famous mausoleum. Her body lies in a crypt 15-feet down. A truly unique kind of a promenade.
Cementerio de la Recoleta
Buenos Aires 1116
+54 11 4804-7040
Discover the 47 rōnin at Tokyo's Sengaku-ji cemetery
Only a few steps away from the Shinagawa station in Tokyo, you'll find the picturesque Sengaku-ji temple and its cemetery. During your visit, you can discover what lies behind the story of the 47 rōnin, one of Japan's most famous legends. This myth, telling the vengeance of 47 samurai without a master, remains a powerful symbol of honour and loyalty in the country of the rising sun.
To get a better fill of Japanese culture, take a trip to the cemetery on December 14th, day of commemoration for these warriors of Medieval era Japan. During a festival that pays them a tribute, you'll witness an incense ceremony (Kōdō) that consists in burning scented wood over the graves. You'll also try some Japanese pancakes, the okonomiyaki. All year long though, you can still enjoy wandering around the carefully aligned memorial stones. End your visit at the temple's museum. This moving excursion will undoubtedly take you back to a very distant past…
2 Chome-11-1 Takanawa
+81 3 3441 5560