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 I Have Learned In Buenos Aires

Things I Have Learned In Buenos Aires

“The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extra human architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish.” Federico Garcia Lorca

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Outside the  cemetery on Saturdays is the Feria Artesanal Plaza Independente Alvear, Recoleta. It is a sprawling arts and crafts market.  They sell leather goods, indigenous products, art, souvenirs and snacks. I bought some really good gifts there. (artist Pablo Maino)

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Buenos Aires like Paris is a city of street markets on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Drivers in Buenos Aires love to break the rules. Six AM is a dangerous time to be on the road as many people are heading home from milongas and dance clubs.

It turns out that Argentina has great ice cream. (or helado in Spanish). The blend of Italian immigrants bringing their tradition of making gelato, with high quality and creamy milk, combine to make some of the best ice cream in the world. Un Altra Volta is always a good place to go and they have a few locations. The Dulce De Leche is really tasty.

La Boca means the mouth in Spanish. The La Boca barrio  is located at the mouth of the Riachuelo. It was originally a shipyard and housed the people who worked there. The houses were built with cast-off ship building materials, meaning that they were largely constructed of  planks, sheet metal and corrugated iron. They were painted in different colors because they used whatever colors were brought in on the ships.  There never seemed to be enough paint in one color.

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Caminito is the colorful artist/tourist street by the river.  In 1960, La Boca artist Benito Quinquela Martín painted the walls of what was then an abandoned street and erected a makeshift stage for performances. It attracted the artists, followed by the tourists, tourist hustlers and bland tourist restaurants.

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It is fun to see the open air tango display and I bought some nice photographs from an artist on the street. If you are going at night, take taxis to and from your destination. It is still a rough working class barrio. (artist Doralisa Romero)

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Throughout history and male dominated governments, women were supposed to suffer injustice in silence. During the reign of the military junta it is believed that 30,000 to 45,000 people “disappeared”.  These victims were sons and daughters. In 1976 a small group of mothers walked around the Plaza Mayo holding photos of their missing children. The protests were not legal. A woman’s place was in the home. The women said a mother’s place is to protect and find her missing children and so they protested on a technicality. Some of the early protestors went missing as well. The women began to wear white headscarves.  The movement grew throughout Latin America. Sting and U2 recorded songs about  them. In 2006 President Kirchner declared unconstitutional the laws used to imprison the Disappeared. Following this move, the Madres ceased their annual protest marches. (U2 on UTube)

Today the Madres de  Plaza de Mayo are the largest civil rights organization in Argentina. In addition to their initial work to find the disappeared, the Madres have tried to continue the work of their lost children.  They have set up a  newspaper, a radio station and a university.And they continue to fight for social justice. The march every Thursday afternoon at 3:30.

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MALBA (Museo de Latinoamericano Arte de Buenos Aires) has an interesting permanent collection and should not be missed by anyone interested in art.

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The building was designed to interact with art. A bench is not just a bench. (bench, bench continues)

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The gallery space is sectional yet fluid The permanent collection  consists of painting, sculpture, photography, print, drawing, and installations.  Visitors see major works by Xu Solar, Diego Rivera, Antonio Berni, Frida Kahlo and Jorge de la Vega, and a host of other modern masters from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. (Antonio Berni -love this piece)

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The Teatro Colon celebrated its hundredth birthday in 2008.  Its first performance in 1908 was Aida. The theatre is said to have one the best acoustics in the world. It is listed as one of the top five opera houses in the world.  It is the only stage that Pavarotti  was nervous to perform on. A massive  100 million dollar renovation was completed in 2010 and tours of the beautiful building are conducted daily in English and Spanish. Better yet, see a performance.  You can get tickets online before you go.

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Arte BA one of the largest and most important art fairs in Latin America was held in Buenos Aires May 24-27. Eighty two galleries from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, United States, Peru and Uruguay participated. It was really fun and interesting and they seemed to have a lot of sales. (art by Marta Minujin)

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Eva Peron is a controversial figure in Argentine history. Museo Evita opened on July 26, 2002, the 50th anniversary of her death, in a mansion where her charity, the Eva Perón Foundation, once housed single mothers with children. The placement of the house here had been meant as a direct affront to the wealthy neighbors who hated Evita.

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The museum treats her history fairly looking at the good and the bad. Her things have been remarkably preserved by the military government that took power after Juan Peron. Whether you love her, hate her or  don’t care either way, she is an important part of Argentine history and  you should see the museum.

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Drink a cup of freshly roasted coffee  ( I like cortado  -small coffee with a splash of milk) with a crispy medialuna (Argentinian croissant) at Café Tortoni.  A good place to try one is the city’s most traditional café. It was founded in 1858.  Café Tortoni has doubled as both a Bohemian and literary joint over the years. It is touristy but I am a tourist . I like to mix the places I’ve heard about with the places only locals know.

I preferred La Biela , opened in 1950 near the Recoleta Cemetery.  Biela means the connecting hot rod of an engine. It was frequented by early car owners and race car drivers. Their  black and white photos decorate the walls. It went on to become popular with artists writers and politicians. It has life-size statues of Argentine writers Borges and Casares sitting at a table in the front of the café.

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Great steak can be had at many places. I had it at La Cabrera http://www.parrillalacabrera.com.ar/ in Palermo Soho.  It was the size of my head but buttery and delicious.

Palermo is the largest barrio ( neighborhood) in Buenos Aires. It has beautiful parks, polo fields and many subdivisions. The most well-known for tourists are Palermo Viejo – home to Jorge Luis Borges and Che Guevara; Palermo Hollywood named because in the nineties a number of radio and tv producers moved there. Today it is known for restaurants, clubs and nightlife. Palermo Soho, as with its London and NY namesakes, is a  trendy area for fashion, design, restaurants, bars and street culture. Its “alternative” reputation makes it popular with Argentine Yuppies and tourists.

The Teatro Grand Splendid  was built in 1919 as a theatre for top tier tango concerts. What a wonderful name for a theatre. Tango legends such as Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo, and Ignacio Corsini performed here. Building proprietor Max Glucksman was a leading figure in the world of tango in his own right, as owner of the influential Nacional-Odeon record label. In 1929, the theater underwent its first transformation to become a cinema, with the distinction of being the first in Buenos Aires to show sound film. Glucksman’s love of tango carried over to the new cinema, with live tango orchestration accompanying the silent films projections.

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Its latest transformation is the El Ateneo bookstore.  The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café. The shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape. The book collection is pretty standard and mostly in Spanish, it is an amazing place to buy a book or have a coffee on the famous stage.

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Going to a soccer game with one of the local clubs is a must do in Buenos Aires. I got to go to a Boca Jr, game at La Bombonera in La Boca.  The fans are as exciting as the game. They spit, throw garbage, scream at each other, sing and often dump water or urine on the people sitting below them if they don’t like what is happening. The Bocas tied the Newell Old Boys and fifty people got arrested. It was a great first night in Buenos Aires.

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I would  not have had such an amazing time without the help of tour guides Marcelo Mansilla (info@ciceroneba.com.ar ) and Fabian Ali ( fali@culturacercana.com.ar) .  Muchas gracias for all your great suggestions, insight, kindness and knowledge of your very beautiful city. (Marcelo)

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Buen Viaje,

JAZ

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