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10 cemeteries to see before you die

Ukraine's Chernivsti Cemetery

Chernivsti cemetery in Ukraine. Picture via 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die/Ryzhkov Sergey Shutterstock

Whether you’re a history-lover, enjoy wildlife, or appreciate beautiful architecture, cemetery travel guru Loren Rhoad’s travel book, 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die is a fascinating way to explore the world.

Famous places and secret spaces are home to ornate tombstones, crypts and monuments to their eternal residents. Here are 10 cemeteries that feature in 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, which may inspire you to discover more from Loren’s book – and plan a sightseeing trip with a difference.

1. Rookwood Necropolis, Sydney, Australia

rookwood neocropolis

Rookwood Necropolis is the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere and a haven for wildlife including brushtail possums and grey headed flying foxes.

Built in the 1800s, it grew to become a necropolis – a city of the dead – with sections allotted to different religious denominations. A steam railway with its own cemetery station conveyed thousands of people to their funerals. The railway is no longer in use, but Rookwood is still open for funerals.

2. Il Cimitero Acattolico di Roma, Rome, Italy

il cimitero acattolico di roma

Also known as the Protestant Cemetery, Il Cimitero Acattolico di Roma is the final resting place for a number of famous artists, scholars and poets. They including Keats, who died of tuberculosis and whose tombstone bears the epitaph “Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.”

3. St Giles’ Churchyard, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom

st giles' churchyard

This quaint churchyard located in the heart of England, was the setting of Thomas Gray’s funeral elegy, 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard'.

Under the ancient yew tree opposite the south west door of the church, is where Gray wrote his famous poem.

4. Greenwood Memorial Park, Renton, Washington, United States

greenwood memorial parkPhoto from 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die by Getty Images

This beautiful memorial park in Renton, Washington is where Jimi Hendrix lies at rest. The former rock guitarist’s monument attracts over 14,000 music fans every year.

5. Neptune Memorial Reef, Florida, United States

neptune memorial reef

Located just over three miles off the coast of Key Biscayne in Florida, Loren Rhoads describes Neptune Memorial as the world’s most beautiful underwater graveyard.

Inspired by ancient sunken cities, Alexandria and Heraklion, it’s also the world’s largest manmade reef with 14 species of coral attracting over 56 different species of fish.

6. The Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala, Sweden

the royal uppsalaPhoto from 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die by Shutterstock

Gamla Uppsala is an ancient pagan burial site that is made up of three burial mounds dating back to the fifth and sixth centuries AD. The mounds have become one of Sweden’s oldest national symbols, and are said to honour the kings of the Ynglinga line immortalised in Nordic sagas – Aun, Egil and Adils.

7. Melbourne General Cemetery, Victoria, Australia

melbourne general cemetery

Opened in June 1852, Melbourne General Cemetery was the first modern cemetery in Victoria. Loren says the most unique monument in the cemetery is a full size granite snooker table, which celebrates the life of billiards champion, Walter Lindrum, who lies beneath it. He was so good at the game that the rules had to be changed to give his opponents a sporting chance.

8. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii

uss arizona memorial

It took just nine minutes for the USS Arizona to sink when it was torpedoed in Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today, a memorial center straddles the waters above where the great ship now lies.

Of the 1177 men on board when it was hit, 1102 died and went down with it. The wreck is maintained as a cemetery and over 4000 tourists a day visit and pay their respects.

9. Reilig Odràn, Isle of Iona, Scotland

relig odran, isle of iona cemetery

Lying on the remote Hebridian Isle of Iona, Relig Odràn is the cemetery where 48 ancient Scottish kings are buried. Although their grave markers are no longer legible, the churchyard is the burial place of the Argyllshire kings including Macbeth and Duncan – who were immortalised by Shakespeare.

In her book, Loren shares a legend about the stone that lies near the chapel’s doorway. “They say that when the stone is worn through, the world will come to an end” she says.

10. Poblenou Cemetery, Barcelona, Spain

poblenou cemeteryPhoto from 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die by Shutterstock

Best known for Kiss of Death, the statue which adorns the grave of Josep Llaudet, Poblenou Cemetery is full of artistic and historic interest. The cemetery was built in the 18th century, but was later destroyed by Napoleon's troops. It was rebuilt and extended in the 19th century giving local middle classes the chance to commission lavish memorials to their loved ones in the form of large vaults and mausoleums.

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads is available in good bookstores and online.

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