In many cultures and religions, cemeteries (from the Greek koimeterion or Latin coemeterium, meaning sleeping place) are used for death ceremonies, burial, mourning, and memorial. Unusual or historical cemeteries have also become popular tourist attractions- cemetery tourism, the ‘dark’ side of tourism, is a growing phenomenon around the world.
Here is a list of top 10 unusual and most visited cemeteries:
10. World’s First Public Pet Cemetery
Cimetiere des Chiens, a cemetery for dogs and other domestic animals, is said to be the world’s oldest public pet cemetery. It is located in Asnières-sur-Seine, a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. The most famous gravestone belongs to Rin Tin Tin, the legendary American dog that starred in various Hollywood movies.
9. Stull Cemetery
Located in Kansas, this cemetery has gained the reputation as one of the world’s most haunted cemeteries. Some people even consider it to be one of the seven gateways to Hell. There are so many legends, stories of witchcraft, ghosts and supernatural happenings surrounding it that even Pope John Paul II allegedly ordered his private jet not to fly over Stull while he was on the way to a public appearance in Colorado in 1995.
8. Cross Bones Graveyard
Cross Bones Graveyard, traditionally called the Single Women’s Graveyard, dates back to medieval times. It was the final resting place for prostitutes (locally known as the Winchester Geese) working in London’s legalized brothels. Multicolor ribbons, charms, flowers, feathers, poems, pictures, and silk stockings decorate the iron fence of the graveyard.
7. Le Mummie di Urbania
La Chiesa dei Morti, The Church of the Dead, is located in Urbania in Italy. Inside lies the Cemetery of the Mummies, which was built in 1833. This cemetery is famous for its strange phenomenon of natural mummification. According to specialists, the process is caused by a particular mold that has absorbed moisture from the corpses leading to the complete desiccation of the bodies.
6. Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery
In the 1990s, Yekaterinburg was known as ‘The crime capital of Russia.’ Many of the leaders of the Russian Mafia lived there and Shirokorechenskoe Cemetery was the final resting place for many of them. Very expensive tombs, black marble, precious stones, laser-engraved images and life-size granite gravestones are common here. The nicknames of the deceased mobsters are engraved along with some of the things they were known for: He was an expert in using knifes.
5. Neptune Memorial Reef
The Neptune Memorial Reef (also known as the Atlantis Memorial Reef or the Atlantis Reef) is the world’s first underwater mausoleum for cremated remains and the world’s largest man-made reef. Opened in 2007, off the coast of Miami Beach, the Neptune Memorial Reef is the perfect final resting place for those who loved the sea.
4. The Merry Cemetery
In Northern Romania, it is worldwide famous for its Merry Cemetery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. What is so unusual about this cemetery? Well, to begin with, the atypical design of the tombstones, which are painted by hand in vivid colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow. The tombstones are big crosses sculpted from oak wood, engraved with funny epitaphs briefly describing the life or the circumstances in which these persons passed away.
3. The Bridge to Paradise – Xcaret’s one-of-a-kind cemetery
The Bridge to Paradise, in the Xcaret Nature and Cultural Park, is quite an intriguing Mexican cemetery. Its structure is based on the Gregorian calendar: the cemetery simulates a hill with seven levels representing the days of the week and 365 colorful tombs on the outside depicting the days of the year. The main entrance is a stairway with 52 steps that represent the weeks of the year.
Each grave is different from the others in design and building materials. One might look like a replica of a famous cathedral, while the next one looks like a sofa or a bed with headboard and pillows.
2. Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province
Hanging coffins is an ancient funeral custom found only in Asia: there are hanging coffins in China, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Some coffins are cantilevered out on wooden stakes, while some lay on rock projections. Other coffins are simply placed in caves.
The hanging coffins of the Bo people in Gongxian, Sichuan Province, the Guyue people of Dragon Tiger Mountain and the Guyue people of Wuyi Mountain are the most famous. The Wuyi Mountain coffins are the oldest; some are more than 3,750 years old.
1. The Cemeteries of Giza and the Valley of the Kings
The Giza Plateau, the site of the mysterious Great Pyramid, the Sphinx and thousands of tombs, has attracted more tourists, archeologists, historians, scientists and mathematicians than any other. The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu or Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and biggest. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it houses the body of Pharaoh Khufu and was built with more than 2 million stones over a period of 20 years. The complex and elaborate funeral customs of ancient Egyptians were believed to ensure immortality in the afterlife.
The Valley of the Kings, a World Heritage Site, is known to contain more than 60 tombs and 120 chambers. It was the main burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom. The fascinating tombs of Egyptian pharaohs are still being discovered to this day.
Source: Timeea Vinerean at toptenz.com