7 Reasons Why I Visit Cemeteries

When I travel to various countries and locations, one of my favorite areas to visit are cemeteries. Many might find this strange, and I totally understand since cemeteries are not usually popular. However, I have learned so much by visiting not only the famous ones such as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Crater in Oahu, Hawaii), Père Lachaise Cemetery (Paris, France) but also the less known ones in small communities.

I share with you some of the reasons cemeteries are on my “to visit” list:

1 – Cemeteries have some of the most beautiful statues and monuments ever seen. Each cemetery has its own look and feel. Some cemeteries do not allow tall statues or require that only plaques be placed on the graves. I find the older the cemeteries have statues that are much more ornate than a modern cemetery. In my travels, I discovered La Recoleta Cemetery, by far one of my favorites. Located on 14 acres, the site has 4,691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 are National Historical Monuments. I spent many Sunday afternoons admiring the statues and reading the many interesting epitaphs. One of the most visited vaults in Recoletta is that of María Eva Duarte de Perón was the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and First Lady of Argentina. To this day, people still visit and leave flowers in her honor.

recoleta, buenos aires, argentina, cemeteries

2 – Cemeteries are a bevy of historical facts. I often look to older cemeteries where epitaphs had a lot more information than the modern ones. Often, in the larger known cemeteries, one can find plaques with lots of information related to the deceased, or to the entire family.

3 – Cemeteries remind us of the dedication of those who gave their lives for freedom. To me, the military cemeteries are the saddest ones to visit as many of the soldiers lost their lives at a very young age. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu Hawaii is one of the most beautiful military cemeteries I have seen. The grounds are immaculate, and there are so many monuments that list those who perished in military conflicts.

punchbowl hawaii cemetery

4 – Cemeteries give us a great insight into the culture and ways of the residents. I visited a Christian cemetery in Bangalore India, and I was touched by the simplicity and earthy beauty of the location, and the graves. What moved me the most were the simple crosses and modest signs as well as one very particular grave that was cement or plaster base, coloured in bright blue, not a common colour in India for anything religious.

Christian india cemetery

5 – The rituals and remembrance of families and loved ones who have passed vary greatly from country to country. I have found beauty in every single cemetery I have visited. While in France I was amazed to see most graves covered in porcelain flowers and plaques. Beautiful sayings etched or painted on special plaques told of the love and respect for the deceased. This was something I had never seen before in my travels.

landes cemetary france

6 – Amazing art can be found in cemeteries. It always impresses me to see statues of people that are so alike to the actual person. Here are two examples found in the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The first picture is of Pierre-Frédéric Dorian, well-known politician and manufacturer. Much is understood of his legacy simply by observing his statue. The second photo is of Charles Rossignol, a world-renown toy maker. Both statues are works of art. Antique photos found Wikipedia.

pere lachaise statues, paris, cemetery

7 – Cemeteries are always needed, regardless of where the people are located. If they are on a beach island, the cemetery will be on the beach. If they are in the French Pyrenees, the cemetery will be in the mountains. Each location had its own challenges, be it sand, mountain, or rock. Each cemetery has its own style and beauty. Seen in the pictures below are three cemeteries – first one is in Antigua, the second is in the Caribbean, the third is in the Pyrenees of France.

misc cemeteries, islands, pyrenees

Next time you visit a new location, consider taking a walk through the local cemetery. You never know what you might discover!

Do you visit cemeteries during your travels? Which is your favorite?

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

22 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why I Visit Cemeteries

  • September 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm
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    I haven’t ever visited cemeteries while traveling but I can understand why you enjoy it so much. There really is so much history and beauty in cemeteries.

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    • September 8, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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      Thanks Jessica for your comments. It’s certainly not a common location to visit, but for me, it’s a beautiful quiet, full of history location!

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  • September 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm
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    Cemeteries have ALWAYS been so intriguing to me too! It’s so interesting to read your reasons for visiting them regularly! great post.

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm
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      Hi Jill, thanks for your kind comments and happy to find others who enjoy what cemeteries bring – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally respect that!

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  • September 8, 2017 at 11:57 pm
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    my wife’s family loves cemeteries. It’s just not my thing to visit them.

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:43 pm
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      Chef Dennis, Thanks for your comments – totally understand that it’s not on everyone’s visit list!

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  • September 9, 2017 at 12:22 am
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    You provided a new perspective on cemeteries changing it for me from a place to be feared to a place of historical importance. Thanks .

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:42 pm
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      Hi Ingrid, thanks for your comments. One other reason I could cite is to do some historical research for a family tree, for example. People who are working our their genealogy roots find a lot of information in cemeteries. Paper records can be destroyed, but tombstones, depending on their age, can still have loads of information for researchers.

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  • September 9, 2017 at 2:20 am
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    The cemeteries in my country don’t look as nice as the one’s in the pictures you posted but regardless I doubt I’d find myself at a cemetery unless I have to be there, even then, I think I’d still have second thoughts. I’me more of a “let the dead rest peacefully in the quiet” kind of person. They do look beautiful though. A for a little bit of humor ‘If a zombie attack did happen, you’d be amongst the first few to be turned.’

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:39 pm
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      Hi Naomi, Thanks for your comments. I totally understand about not visiting cemeteries unless you have to… I admit it is a bit unusual. And well, if I am to turn into a zombie first, I guess that a risk I will take! (humour returned!).

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  • September 9, 2017 at 2:30 am
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    I never really thought that much about them. I’ve never been to a cemetery before. There aren’t many in Florida since the water table is so high you can’t really dig there much.

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm
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      Hi Stephanie – thanks for your comments, and please stay safe in Florida or wherever you are.

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  • September 9, 2017 at 3:19 am
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    Honestly never thought about this but what a good post. I might have to try this now — and gives you a ton of appreciation for life!

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    • September 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm
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      Hi Micheal, you are so right, it does give you a great appreciation for life – Seize the day! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 9, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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    My mum enjoys visiting cemeteries/graveyards – she likes to read the old tombstones, especially those of previous centuries, and wonders about the lives they may have led…

    I have got back from Boa Vista, Cape Verde and their capital’s cemetery is neater and tidier than some of the streets surrounding it. Years ago (1984) I was in Mahon, Minorca and they had a cemetery where it was built upwards – like a climbing wall – with slots for coffins!

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    • September 11, 2017 at 2:45 am
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      Hi Linda, The cemetery in Minorca sounds like some in Spain where there are walls with multiple levels of tombs. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  • September 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm
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    I remember being a kid and going to the cemetery every year to visit my aunt’s tomb. We put flowers and light a candle and stay there for an hour or two. And you’re right, I remember seeing interesting arts and statues in the cemetery.

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    • September 11, 2017 at 2:43 am
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      Hi Kristine, Thanks for your comments. Rituals such as visiting a loved one’s grave is very traditional. Thanks for sharing.

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  • September 11, 2017 at 6:36 am
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    l have visited a few cemetaries when I have traveled. I don’t plan on going to ones every time, but every time I have gone to one I discovered beautiful artwork and some amazing stories to go with them.

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    • September 12, 2017 at 3:37 am
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      Hi David, There are some amazing artwork in cemeteries, I totally agree with you! Thanks for your comments.

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  • September 11, 2017 at 9:52 am
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    There are so many things that you can learn from visiting national cemeteries or any cemetery. I think it’s nice to go there and honor the lives that were lost, especially those that have given their lives for a great cause.

    Reply

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