Ten Cemeteries In The World To Visit Before You Die

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Ten Cemeteries In The World To Visit Before You Die

“Why’s that cemetery so popular? Everybody’s dying to get in!” unknown

Visiting a cemetery is a lot more interesting when you are alive. It is always a sometimes spooky, sometimes beautiful history lesson. Some of them are a resting place of famous people, some have really unusual memorials and others simply provide a surprisingly nice and tranquil walk. Here are some cemeteries to visit before you die.

Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Recoleta Cemetery is the final resting place of the good, the bad, the beautiful and the rich people of Argentina’s past. It is a remarkable necropolis of tombs and mausoleums.  It is proportioned like a miniature village with its stately Greco-Roman crypts lining the narrow walkways. They believed “the bigger the mausoleum, the closer to God.“

It is less expensive to live your whole life in Buenos Aires than it is to be buried in Recoleta.When you enter the cemetery through the neoclassical gates (designed by  the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo.)  There are two messages in Latin. The message on this inside is from the living to the dead and says rest in peace. On the outside, it is from the dead to the living and says Wait for God.

You have found Eva Peron’s flower strewn monument when you see people. She is buried among the rich people who did not like her.

There are approximately eighty cats who live at the Recoleta cemetery.  They say that they are the guardians/tour guides of  the 4800 tombs and have been taken care of for twenty years.  Everyone including me  takes photos of them.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Jewish Cemetery was established in the first half of the fifteenth century.  It is one of the most important historic sites in Prague´s Jewish Town. The oldest tombstone, which marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, dates from the year 1439. Burials took place in the cemetery until 1787. Today it contains some 12,000 tombstones, al though the number of persons buried here is much greater. It is assumed that the cemetery contains several burial layers placed on top of each other.

Pere La Chaise, Paris, France

Cimetière du Père Lachaise is the most visited cemetery in the world. It is the hub of Paris’s dead rich and famous. The list of famous corpses now buried there includes Jim Morrison, Moiliere, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Chopin, Marcel Proust, and Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani. Wilde’s tomb is one of the garden cemetery’s most famous and is covered in the lipstick kisses of admirers. It is no accident that all these famous people are buried here. Established in 1804, the cemetery was first used for reburials from other parts of the city. In a macabre (and involuntary) form of celebrity endorsement, officials had high-profile bodies moved in to boost popularity. I hope to go in the spring. (as a visitor).

Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery, Jerusalem,  Israel

The Mount of Olives has been used as a Jewish cemetery for more than 3,000 years.Approximately 150,000 Jewish people are buried there including some of the greatest Jewish leaders, prophets, and rabbis of all time.Among the notable Jews buried here in biblical times were Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi and Absalom, the rebellious son of King David. In the modern era, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, author Shai Agnon, Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold and prime minister Menachem Begin and his wife Aliza were buried here as well.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California

This place is the final act of studio founders, writers, directors, and performers in Hollywood history; it’s where the industry’s biggest players went to die like Mickey Rooney, Cecil B. De Mille and of course Toto. Appropriately, the scene here is full of gaudy tombstones, mausoleums, peacocks, palm trees, and reflecting pools. Live concerts and movie screenings aren’t uncommon on the cemetery’s manicured lawns.

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Romania

The “merry” cemetery features over 600 ornately carved, colorful wooden crosses, often with a dark or extremely literal take on the life of the body that lies beneath it. Each grave is adorned with a blue cross and a scene from the departed’s life – both good and bad. There is also a poem. The carpenter who carves the markers and composes the poems doesn’t hold back. There are references to drinking and cheating and even some mother-in-law jokes.

Okonoin Cemetery, Koya, Japan

This forested site on the side of Mount Koya is where Kobo Daishi — the founder of Shingon Buddhism — lies in eternal meditation and it’s where many devoted followers want to be buried. So many, in fact, that it’s the largest cemetery in Japan. Grave markers line the path to Daishi’s mausoleum, and each salvation-seeker’s tombstone is more unconventional and weirder than the last.

Two hundred thousand monks are buried there and waiting for the resurrection of the future Buddha. Look for the memorial dedicated by a local pesticide company to termites, and for statues that mimic monks and coffee cups.

St Andrews Cathedral Graveyard, St. Andrews, Scotland

St Andrews Cathedral is a ruined Roman Catholic cathedral in St Andrews, Scotland that was built in 1158. Most of the grave stones are so old and worn that there is no writing left. Many famous pioneers and champions of golf are buried here.The most famous grave of the nineteenth century was the golfer young Tom Morris. Sometimes people leave golf balls on his grave for luck.

Highgate Cemetery, London,  England

Highgate is one of seven garden-like cemeteries that were built in a ring around London in the nineteenth century, when inner-city burial grounds had become overcrowded. Gothic tombs and buildings are now overgrown with ivy. Obelisks tower over its crypt-lined Egyptian Avenue, which leads to the Circle of Lebanon, a set of tombs built around an ancient cedar tree. George Eliot and Karl Marx are buried here a long with a poisoned Russian spy who’s name I don’t know.

Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, USA

As far as cemeteries in America go, there is none more famous or respected as the Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families have been laid to rest. The sweeping rows of white marble headstones, and the constant guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, are sobering reminders of the ultimate sacrifice that many have made.Tomb
Soldiers who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, and certain Veterans and Family members are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. So are Presidents.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

Things That I Have Learned In Eastern Europe (or the former Soviet Union)

Things That I Have Learned In Eastern Europe (or the former Soviet Union)

“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.” Vaclav Havel

I  have traveled around Eastern Europe a few times before I was a blogger or ‘photographer’. This was not one trip.  It was  earlier in the tourism stage of these countries and I’m sure things are a lot different now.   This is what I remember.

There is something not warm and fuzzy about being in countries of the former Soviet Union.  Especially countries that sent so many innocent people to concentration camps before that. The vestiges of communism are still there. The first thing you notice in  Budapest and Prague is that people don’t smile. (a train in Budapest)

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“If you need directions, ask young.” Most of the older generation do not speak any English. The young are trying to be modern.  But they have missed the sixties, seventies and eighties. The music went from folksongs and communist anthems  to rock and roll. The results are sometimes odd. Same with the clothes.

Shopping streets were emerging like Vaci street in Budapest with chain clothing stores  where once there was State Grocery no.19.  Things cost more and consumerism has definitely hit these countries. Keeping up with their neighbors is harder these days. There is still a lot of black market profiteering. But slowly a middle class is appearing.  (tagging in Budapest)

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After the fall of Communism,  Eastern Europe was faced with the problem of what to do with all those  Lenin, Marx and Engels statues. Several of the finest minds of the time got together in St Petersburg in 1991 to thrash out the quandary and it was decided that every city would display them in their very own tacky sculpture park. There is Fallen Monument Park in Moscow, Memento Park in Budapest and Grutas Park (known as Stalin’s World) 130km south of Vilnius. There are Museums of Terror in many of these eastern European cities showing their treatment in the time of the Soviets.  (Statue Park in Budapest )

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Lithuania was my first Baltic Country..  During the Holocaust around 95 per cent of the Lithuanian Jews were murdered, the highest percentage in Europe, many by local collaborator-killers. There is a Genocide Museum in Vilnius  in the old KGB headquarters. It was occupied by the Gestapo during World War Two for the deportations and later the Lithuanians suffered there under Stalin. In Eastern Europe I found the Lithuanians the most friendly and most open to talk about stuff. I wasn’t prepared for that. It is hard to understand. ( a street in Vilnius Lithuania)

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Trakai castle surrounded by Lake Galve is about an hour out of Vilnius.  All the brides come on the weekends to take photos. There were many because if you don’t get married on a Saturday, the neighbors start counting the months.

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Palanga is the busiest summer resort in Lithuania and the traffic on a Sunday proved that point.

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Riga, Latvia has the largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. This is designed by Max Eisenstein (father of filmmaker Sergei.)

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Rumbala,  which is 10 kilometers  outside of  Riga, is where 25,000 Jews were murdered during WW2. Rumbala and Babi Yar (in Kiev, Ukraine) were the two biggest  massacre killings in Eastern Europe until the death camps. This was the only Jewish  Holocaust memorial in the original Soviet Union.

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Parnu, Estonia is an elegant beach town with depressing Soviet architecture.

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Estonia is between Latvia and a ferry ride to Finland. ( 43 miles away, yes I was there)  The influence of their Nordic neighbors is very noticeable, in the spelling, the food, and the design.  Talinn, the capital of Estonia is a blend of a historical Baltic city and cool Nordic  food and fashion trends. The former KGB headquarters are now the Hotel Viru. I did major shopping and eating here. The Wall Of Sweaters is fun for everything wool and located on the old city wall by the Viru Gate. The leather stores from Italy have  better prices here. (Talinn, Estonia, cathedral of Alexander Nevsky, sweater wall)

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Prague is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I have been there twice. It  is called the Paris of the East.  There is culture, history, five-star restaurants and hotels. The Charles Bridge connects the old town with  the Mala Strana and is one of the most iconic structures in Prague. (Art Museum and Charles Bridge)

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The Jewish Quarter dates back to the thirteenth century. The Old New Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Europe in Gothic thirteenth century style.  It is in use today. The Old Jewish Cemetery was established in the first half of the 15th century.  it is one of the most important historic sites in Prague´s Jewish Town. The oldest tombstone, which marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, dates from the year 1439. Burials took place in the cemetery until 1787. Today it contains some 12,000 tombstones, al though the number of persons buried here is much greater. It is assumed that the cemetery contains several burial layers placed on top of each other. (Prague Cemetery)

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Leadership in these countries has not been great. Decades of totalitarian rule damaged the way people in power think and behave; and the harm has not been repaired.

The mindset of the younger generation is everything  anti Communist or anti the time of the Soviets as they say. Under Communist rule, the State was responsible for everything – even for little things. Today people must make decisions and take responsibility for them – not an easy task for those who have been raised to follow, not to lead.

Fly safe,

JAZ