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Most interesting cemeteries in Europe?

What are some of the best cemeteries in Europe that people have been to in terms of art work and mood?
One of my favs is Kerepesi in Budapest.

Posted by
4292 posts

There is an interesting one in Zakopane, Poland. I think it is the most visited sight there, in a heavily touristed town. Lots of well maintained, highly decorated gravesides.

(edit) cemetery's name is Peksowy Brzyszek, 'Peksa's brook'

Posted by
2104 posts

As far as the world's really great cemeteries I have only been to Pere Lachaise, and we enjoyed it very much. However I just read a fascinating essay entitled Grave Situations, about three Paris cemeteries and the people in them in David Downie's book Paris, Paris. Montparnasse is often overlooked in favor of Pere Lachaise, but it's got quite a list of permanent residents. Highly recommended for this and all the essays in the book, which provide a very unusual look at Paris. There's also a good one called Night Walking.
Cemeteries are a tremendously entertaining pursuit.

Posted by
3193 posts

The Cimetire des Chiens (et Autres Animaux Exotiques) – The dog cemetery in suburban Paris contains the remains of one famous four-footed-friend, Rin Tin Tin. Supposedly an all-American hero, Rinty (or at least his inspiration) barked with a French accent. These links explain the story.
Otherwise this walled enclave on the bank of the Seine is sort of a miniaturized version of the massive family plots that can be found in the more famous, more human Paris burial grounds. Really, our pets are part of us even in death. One of the headstones even preserves what must have been the dog's favorite tennis balls.

http://www.coolstuffinparis.com/cemetery-des-chiens-pet-cemetery-paris.php
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/41033

Posted by
9305 posts

dan.westfall; I saw the title and I thought to myself, I know just the place so I clicked the link and to my disappointment (and Joy) you beat me to it. I was going to suggest Kerepesi as well. Love the place!!! Did you visit the nearby Jewish cemetery?

Posted by
924 posts

here's my idea for a light read for the plane on the same theme "a fine and private place" by peter s beagle..... love stories that take place in a cemetery........

Posted by
636 posts

The huge Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof) in Vienna is worth a visit; especially to the musician's section. The Jewish section is overgrown and many of the gravestones are leaning, damaged, or fallen over - because in many cases there are no family members left to tend to them. There are monuments to Mozart in both the Zentralfriedhof and the Friedhof St. Marx, where he was buried in an unmarked mass grave. The latter cemetery is also worth a visit.

Posted by
7386 posts

The largest cemetery complex in Germany is in Frankfurt. 172 acres of beautiful monuments, all in a park like setting.
http://www.frankfurter-hauptfriedhof.de/start-bild02.htm

I also like our medieval Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt that dates back to 1272. The gravestones have such interesting carvings on them.

Oldest cemetery in Europe would be Holy Sands Jewish Cemetery in Worms with the oldest gravestone dating back to 1034. Just got back from Worms about an hour ago. It was a bit foggy this morning with frost everywhere and the atmosphere was peaceful and lovely. Got some wonderful photos.

Posted by
4584 posts

Symbolic cemetery for the unfortunate souls who perished in the High Tatras mountains in Slovakia. It is located next to the beautiful lake with High Tatras peaks around. The feeling there is like being in some huge cathedral only more impressive. You can get there on marked trail from Strbske Pleso in about one hour. Or you can get off the train in Popradske Pleso stop and walk uphill on the road for about 30 to 45 minutes. The road is closed to traffic only service cars allowed.
http://www.lesytanap.sk/en/services/symbolic-cemetery.php

Posted by
20 posts

Yes! The Jewish Cemetery in Worms was incredible! I was there in September on an overcast rainy day and had it all to myself. Got some good photos as well....

Posted by
843 posts

While I don't believe anyone famous is buried there, the cemetery in Milan is beautiful. Many of the geaves are decorated with Art Deco statuary.

Posted by
957 posts

Highgate Cemetry in London is of of my favorites. There is a pretty good write-up on Wikipedia for all the details. In two parts, one is the epitome of Victorian Gothic...watch out for Vampires. The more contemporary part's most famous resident is probably Karl Marx.

Posted by
20 posts

Brompton in London is a good one too. Dozens of ravens flying around to give it extra oomph!

Posted by
4482 posts

Highgate and Brompton in London

The big three, Pere Lachaise, Montparnasse, and Montmartre in Paris

Waldfriedhof Heerstrasse in Berlin

Posted by
1406 posts

This may seem obvious, but remember cemeteries are not intended to be tourist sites. Be respectful of why they are there and why you are there.

I find almost any country cemetery a beautiful place.

Posted by
14927 posts

Cimetero (San Michele Island) in Venice. Igor Stravinsky among others are buried there. People leave little mementos on grave sites. Most interesting were a Formula 1 driver with lots of toy race cars and an Argentine soccer player plenty off stuff on his grave.

Posted by
1994 posts

I would like to add a vote for decorum. Visiting San Michele in Venice, I heard really disrespectful laughter, jokes, and commentary from English-speaking tourists. I also saw an older woman, who is clearly there to visit the graves of loved ones, asking people to please be quiet. It was very sad, as well as embarrassing.

Posted by
8158 posts

Speaking of the need for respect when visiting a cemetary, have you ever seen the grave and tombstone of Jim Morrison in Pere Lachaise? Wine and booze bottles, love notes, sandwich wrappers, and other detritus litter it, left by ardent fans. Quite disgusting. I believe it all gets cleaned up from time to time, but the fans return.

Posted by
20 posts

It was easy to find Jim Morrisons grave. Just follow the scent of sweetleaf. Works everytime!

Posted by
1812 posts

Certainly there are old and interesting cemetaries is Europe, and we have visited some, but the ones I find most interesting are the American cemetaries.

Posted by
1406 posts

The ship for Pere Lachaise sailed long ago, once they put Jim in.

Posted by
249 posts

The Jewish Cemetery in Prague is very interesting for the number of headstones tumbling over one another in such a small, enclosed space. (Apparently, there are many, many more actual people buried there than are represented by the headstones, also, because, for a period of time, the Jews were not allowed to purchase more land.) The cemetery dates back to at least the 15th century, and so it has a very gothic appearance, also.

Another one that both is and isn't a cemetery, exactly, is the catacombs in Paris. It contains the skeletons of millions of Parisians. The cemeteries in Paris were becoming overcrowded and some were collapsing into the Seine and contaminating the water. So, for a period of about 100 years, in the 18th and 19th centuries monks exhumed the bodies and transferred the bones to former mines that now lay beneath the streets of Paris. They stacked the skulls into walls, sometimes forming patterns with them, and put up markers to indicate which cemetery they came from and when. Occasionally, stones or other items from the graveyards were placed in the catacombs, as well.

Posted by
1237 posts

I would recommend the Cambridge American Cemetery also the cemetery in St Andews Scotland.

Posted by
4788 posts

The cemetery of the San Miniato Al Monte Basilica above the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence.

Posted by
11945 posts

When I lived in Germany, I would go for after work walks through the Odenwald mountains with my dog. Above the town of Hemsbach, along a narrow mountain road is an old Jewish cemetery that somehow survived the NS period relatively undamaged. I had no prior knowledge of it beforehand, but stumbled upon it the first time I walked a particular hiking trail. Although it isn't in pristine condition, neither is it completely dilapidated, indicating that someone must still provide some maintenance for this cemetery whose community was unfortunately completely exterminated. It provides a very morose touch in what would otherwise be a fairly cheery rural mountain landscape. A reminder of the darkness that lies just under the surface of Germany's recent past.

If this sparks anyone's interest, send me a PM. It's very hard to find without reference to specific landmarks.

Posted by
7386 posts

This might be an interesting cemetery if you are visiting Frankfurt or Kaiserslautern. Both cemeteries have special sections where for decades, the very small children of American military members were buried. It is touching to be here and know that the parents weren't able to send their babies back to the US for burial.

http://user.icx.net/~richmond/rsr/kinderfeldfrankfurt.html
http://www.kaiserslautern-kindergraves.org/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIxYQELl33I

Posted by
10286 posts

I'm a fan of Pere Lachaise, Montparnasse, and Montmartre as well. And Claudia mentioned San Miniato Al Monte in Florence? The view of Florence from up there is even a bit better than from Piazzale Michelangelo! Another are the crumbled remains of once-grand tombs along Via Appia Antica in Rome.

I have to chuckle a bit over Mr. Morrison's resting place. It reminded me very much of the riot of bright plastic flowers, toys, coins, liquor bottles, pictures, packs of cigarettes, figurines and who-knows-what-all you often see in cemeteries in the American Southwest. They're positively festive, and especially so when decked out for Día de Muertos.

Back in the 1800's, large public cemeteries in the U.S. doubled as cool, shady parks, and people frequented them for leisure activities. Family picnics, painting, fishing or boating in the ponds, a romp with the little ones or the dog, etc. were common activities, and somberness wasn't required nor expected. I'm reading that many communities are trying to make a return to use of these lovely green spaces by the living, and encouraging these sorts of activities again!

Posted by
202 posts

Tikhvin Cemetery in St Petersburg.

Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Gliere, Glinka, and more are buried here.

Posted by
6734 posts

@ Jo, we talked about your youtube video link in our Moscow ID Rick Steves' meet up yesterday. I hadn't read the thread since the beginning, so had missed your later contribution. Very touching.

Posted by
7386 posts

Thank you. I makes me sad every month when I go there to clean up. Thinking about the parents and wondering if they think about their little ones they had to leave behind.

Posted by
6734 posts

And appalling that the Armed Services would not pay for repatriation for anyone under age 2. Very sad. I can guarantee you that the Moms, at least, think of the little ones.

Posted by
1252 posts

I have to mention two cities that were omitted in the previous posts:

Sarajevo: Not because the cemeteries are beautiful, serene places, but because they were created out of necessity during the siege in the early 1990s. They are in what used to be city parks. It is haunting and it brings the tragic events of Bosnia's recent past front and center in the experience of seeing the city.

Ljubljana: Zale Cemetery, parts of which were designed by Jože Plečnik, the leading figure in Slovenian architecture. A serene place, beautifully composed.

By the way, check out the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe web site if you are interested in cemeteries.

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1 posts

from Houston, TX There are many American military cemeteries in Europe that are cared for by natives of those countries and directed by a retired American military member. American military who lost their lives there, particularly in WW I and WW II, are buried there. They are beautifully, pristinely maintained by the American Battle Monument Commission. They are peaceful, dignified, and respectful as they honor those who died there. They each have beautiful chapels and artistic displays of information about the war. On military holidays - Memorial Day and Veterans' Day, special commemorations are held there with military bands, flyovers, and branches of American and, in France, French military. Each grave is decorated with an American flag and a French flag. My father is buried in the Epinal Cemetery in northern France. Many French people have adopted graves to decorate on certain days and to visit in between. When we visited there, we developed friendships with cemetery staff and the woman who adopted my Dad's grave. We keep in touch by email and Facebook. When my son and family visited there last year, they spent several days with our dear friend, again visiting the cemetery with my 1-year old granddaughter who got to be at her great grandfather's grave. I was struck by the friendship of the people who live there and their sincere interest and awareness of the battles affecting their country. They know more in their country than most people here know about the situation. They are so grateful to Americans. And they had a real desire for the American people to know it and to be friends. A few seemed deeply hurt and confused when they were vilified over American politics a few years back. Never knowing why my mother and my Dad's family decided not to expatriate him to be buried back home, I felt so relieved to realize that my father's grave is being tenderly cared for every single day by wonderful people, far more than he would have received in a quiet small cemetery at home. Check www.abmc.gov for information about the military cemeteries.

Posted by
687 posts

My current favorite is the very atmospheric Lychakiv in Lviv. It's particularly interesting to see the difference between the more elaborate older burials and the ones from the Soviet era.

Posted by
23 posts

Just visited The Forest Cemetary in Munich, which was very beautiful. I also visited the cemetary in Bonn, Germany where Robert & Clara Schumann and Beethoven's mother are buried. It was also very wooded which enhances the beauty of a cemetary. I like to visit composers' graves so the Vienna cemetary is tops on my list as well as Paris. After reading posts here, I am now interested in visiting St. Petersberg for more composer's graves.

Posted by
46 posts

Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow. All the greatest Russians of all fields, from military and political greats to ballerinas and poets. The monuments are a sight to behold.
The American cemetery at Meuse-Argonne. The largest American cemetery in Europe. Stunningly beautiful and virtually untoured, because it is far-removed, even from major WWI battle sites people do visit, like Verdun.
Two quiet cemeteries I saw while on a Rick Steves Scotland tour: the churchyard at Kenmore, and the Flora McDonald cemetery at the tip of Skye.

And the tiny Jewish cemeteries scattered in backyards and farm fields in Germany, which my husband and I have visited on his roots travel. They are supposed to be mowed and protected by the local governments but rarely are. Always moving.

Posted by
22 posts

The German War Cemetery, Mont-de-Huisnes, Normandy, within sight of Mont St. Michel, is a sad monument in a beautiful place. Worth the visit. Highgate is very much worth a visit outside London - there's one grave with a woman's CAT - and it's a charming area to walk around. I agree with an earlier poster that some of the most interesting cemeteries are in America - in Boston, New Orleans, and of course Forest Lawn in LA (but only if you've read The Loved One). I also encourage reading Peter Beagle's book.

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2 posts

The most moving cemeteries I have ever visited in Europe are those where the fallen from the two World Wars are buried. Chief among these for me is the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. The soldiers buried here are primarily those who died in Operation Market Garden which took place in September 1944 and which was brought to the movie screen in "A Bridge Too Far", based on the book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan. Of course, most of those who died were still teenagers, or barely out of their teens, and that is heart-breaking enough, but many of the headstones have short inscriptions, obviously written by distraught parents or wives. The emotion of these inscriptions is overwhelming.

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1 posts

I'll second the original post's recommendation of Kerepesi in Budapest. I went on All Hallow's Eve one year. The leaves were all changing colors and people had lit candles at graves all over the cemetery. Truly gorgeous.

I'd also recommend Copenhagen's main cemetery. It's like you're walking in a forest. People even hang out and have picnics there.

Lastly, there's some real spooky decrepit cemeteries in Vilnius.

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1 posts

Moscow Russia the Novodevichy Cemetery has famous Russian's buried there and has large sculpted monuments that resemble the person's lifes work. It feels more like a huge open-air museum than a burial place. It's similar to the Paris Père Lachaise, and both are very grand. I enjoyed both !

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1 posts

Being a retired US Air Force family, we have visited many cemeteries around the world, including the American Cemeteries in Cambridge, England and Manilla, Philippines. While visiting friends on the island of Norderney, Germany, we viewed the large pet cemetery with mementos and photos associated with the animal, at most of the graves. There were several horses buried in the cemetery, which interestingly, was located next to a field where horses were grazing.

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5 posts

For us, the most interesting is the cemetery in the old town section of Salzburg. It is nice retreat from the crowds, but moreover, every time we enter, the first grave name we see is "Wagner," which leaves us wondering if it is a long-lost relative???

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3 posts

@wayne SD. One of the most incredible cemeteries in the world is The Jewish Cemetery at Mount Of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel. So many thousands of grave sites, all waiting for the resurrection to occur so they may enter the gates to heaven.

Google web site and photos:

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?hl=en&pb=!1s0x150329b7baf57929:0x51e554fc78857883!2m5!2m2!1i80!2i80!3m1!2i100!3m1!7e1!4shttps://plus.google.com/110787367370218217442/photos?hl%3Den%26socfid%3Dweb:lu:kp:placepageimage%26socpid%3D1!5sjewish+cemetery+jerusalem+-+Google+Search&sa=X&ei=Hhn6VK_sGcaqNp3DgKgG&sqi=2&ved=0CJEBEKIqMA8

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1 posts

The Protestant Cemetery in Rome is very beautiful. It is the burial place of Keats and Shelley among others. It is located in the Testaccio neighborhood, subway stop Piramide.

Jane, New Brunswick, Canada

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1 posts

I agree with the recommendation of the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. It is a lovely, quiet sanctuary in the midst of the city.

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2 posts

My wife, being an avid genealogist, we often visit cemeteries, even those where none of her ancestors are buried. She and I discussed this question and besides the obvious choices of the cemetery outside of Vienna, where a bunch of famous people are buried (forgot its name), and the Peter cemetery next to the Peter and Paul Church, where part of the Sound of Music was filmed; we think our favorite is the little cemetery built on the side of the hill next to Varenna, Italy where we started our Rick Steves Best of Italy tour. Being on the hill side above the train and the road it had a great view of Lake Como, but the graves were most interesting too. The cemetery was moved here under Napoleon, so it isn't very old, but like German cemeteries the graves are carefully maintained. We spent time sitting on a bench thinking of the people who had lived here their whole lives.

The cemetery is on the way to the mouth of the Fiumelatte (river of milk). Well worth the hike.

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2 posts

I would add my 2 pence to the Highgate (N London) recommendations. The cemetery is beautiful in parts and historic on several different levels. Not sure what the tour policy now but it was well worth it when I took it years ago and some parts of the cemetery were only accessible via the tour. I also have to mention the tiny church cemetery in Rye since this was the site of the infamous (fictional) premature monument erected to Mapp and Lucia in EF Benson's wonderful series of novels. In general, Rye is a wonderful, easy day trip from London and you will find yourself literally walking the very recognizable streets of "Tilling" Benson's fictionalization of the town recently featured in a new BBC comedy series.

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10286 posts

Ooh, yes, the Protestant Cemetery in Rome is a dandy!

So while we're on the subject, can anyone recommend a good one in Munich and/or Bruges? The older, the better.

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1 posts

While not a cemetery per se, the Sedlec Ossuary outside of Prague is well worth a visit. There are beautiful gravestones outside, but the real jewel is inside with all the decorations being made from human bones. It sounds creepy, but it isn't. It's beautiful. Also, the catacombs beneath Paris are interesting. My husband and I always try to visit cemeteries wherever we go in this country and abroad. We have many photos with beautiful and unusual monuments from our trips.

Posted by
2274 posts

Sedlac is a place I have visited a few times but there are many other similar places in the Czech republic ,others have mentioned the Old Jewish cemetery in Prague as being very interesting but the New Jewish cemetery is also of interest and where you can see Kafka's grave, its a bit of a shrine to Kafka fans.
The Olsany cemetery nearby the new Jewish one is very atmospheric with much of the older area over grown and some real gothic style headstones.