Cemeteries with Unique Architecture and History

Here is a compilation of cemeteries with unique architecture and history around the world.

Chichicastenango Cemetery, Guatemala

Chichicastenango is a Mayan traditional cemetery with hundreds of vibrant tombstones. The graves have symbolic colors: white represents purity, turquoise is for protection, yellow represents the sun’s life force while others are usually the favorite color of the deceased. The colorful architecture of the graves aims to encourage the living with the inevitability of death. However, these tombs are for rent. So, if a family cannot pay rent, the remains of the dead are exhumed and transferred to a mass grave.

Chichicastenango Cemeteries, Guatemala

City of the Dead, Cairo, Egypt

The City of the Dead is a vast cemetery at the foot of the Mokattam Hills in Cairo. The history of the necropolis goes back to the foundation of the city of Fustat in 642 AD. Nevertheless, most tombs in the complex date back to the Mameluke era (1200-1500s) while others are the final resting place for scholars, cultural figures, rulers, and members of Egypt’s elite families. Unfortunately, the site has been under the threat of demolition due to the modernization project of the government since 2020. The Egyptian government has already demolished some historic tombs to build new highways in the area.

City of the Dead, Cairo, Egypt

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Paris and the most visited one in the world. It holds the graves of several famous figures such as  Colette, Frédéric Chopin, Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Molière, and Honoré de Balzac. The cemetery also features numerous remarkable statues decorating the graves.

Père Lachaise Cemeteries, Paris, France

Hyper-dense Vertical Graveyards of Hong Kong

The graveyards occupy the area’s mountainsides as a response to its extreme urban density, as well as Chinese Feng Shui traditions. As congested as these tiered terraces may seem, but the graveyards are in fact extremely over-priced, making them unattainable to many. In addition to the expenses, there is also the obstacle of space constraints, which is why the Hong Kong government is now encouraging cremation instead of burials. Today, these graveyards represent an abstract intersection between tradition, eternal life, and modern-day demands.

Fernand Arbelot’s grave by azul_mar_cielo
Georges Rodenbach’s grave by camdenpirate

An Bang Cemetery in Hue, Vietnam

The construction of the richly adorned structures at An Bang Cemetery or the City of Ghosts began in 1995. Since then, several elaborate mausoleums have been built at the site, some reaching three stories high. These extravagant mausoleums evet feature fully functional bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

An Bang Cemeteries, Hue, Vietnam
An Bang Cemetery, Hue, Vietnam

Okunoin Cemetery in Japan

Okunoin Cemetery is famous for the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi who was the founder of Shingon Buddhism as well as one of the most revered persons in Japanese religious history.

Okunoin Cemetery in Japan

La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Recoleta Cemetery was originally the orchard of Basílica Nuestra Señora del Pilar. The site belonged to the recollect monks and was also the city’s first public cemetery inaugurated in 1822. The cemetery comprises numerous mausoleums in Art Deco, Art Nouveau, baroque, and neo-gothic architectural styles. The tomb of Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina, is among the most visited tombs in the cemetery.

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina