Celebrities and medieval stone crosses: 11 Graveyards to visit around the world

2019-02-12 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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In the grand scheme of life on Earth, cemeteries are quite a recent blip on the radar of human existence. 

Humans haven't always buried their loved ones in big cemeteries like we do today - but they always wanted to find ways to commemorate and remember those they lost. 

READ: Here's what it's like to run a cemetery

Why it might sound like a sombre holiday, visiting graveyards can be quite a holistic experience good for the soul; and around the world there are some beautiful ones where you can connect with spirits of old.

Graves of famous people that left a big mark on the world have also become popular pilgrimage destinations - from literary stalwart Oscar Wilde to Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe - and sometimes the story behind a grave's occupant also drives travellers to pay tribute in their own way.

Here are some of the must-visit graveyards around the world where you can contemplate your place in the never-ending cycle of life and death.

Braamfontein Cemetery, Johannesburg, South Africa

This is the city's oldest public cemetery, with graves from the start of the 20th century and is also the final resting place of Enoch Mankayi Sontonga - the composer of South Africa's national anthem.

Noratus Cemetery, Geharkunik Marz, Armenia

This cemetery has the largest collection of khachkars - Armenian stone with medieval crosses carved into them - and the oldest khachkars date back to the late 10th century.

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Père Lachaise, Paris, France

The largest in the city of love, this is one of the busiest cemeteries in the world and home to the remains of famous writers like Oscar Wilde and Colette, music maestro Frederic Chopin and the tomb of Jim Morrison.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California, US

On the other side of the Atlantic, you can visit the graves of Hollywood stars in this privately owned cemetery and channel the spirits of Michael Jackson, Clark Gable, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole.

SEE: History, Hollywood and voodoo all in a New Orleans cemetery 

Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, US

Another famous celebrity cemetery in the US, here you can pay homage to the belle of the silver screen - Marilyn Monroe - which has one of the most visited graves in the world.

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, its occupants are a different kind of famous - Nobel Prize winners, some of Napoleon's relatives, presidents of Argentina and the enigmatic legacy of Eva Perón.

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Westminster Abbey, London, England

This church isn't only known for its royal weddings - it's the burial ground of about 30 monarchs dating back to King Edward who built the church during his reign, as well as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, David Livingstone and most recently Stephen Hawking.

Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia, US

If you're looking for something a little spooky, the weeping trees of this cemetery makes for a chilling backdrop that became famous in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Merry Cemetery, Sapanta, Romania

Romania's Merry Cemetery, located in a village in the northwest, is a collection of more than a thousand Orthodox crosses decorated with colourful epitaphs and drawings, sometimes quite humorous.

PICS: Laughing at death: Check out Romania's Merry Cemetery 

Okunoin, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan

Okunoin is the site of the Kobo Daishi's mausoleum, the founder of Shingon Buddhism and one of the most revered religious leaders in Japan's history - as a result many monks and feudal lords have made the cemetery their own final resting place.

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

This is one of the most chaotic cemeteries in the world. Over a hundred thousand bodies are buried right on top of each other - about 12 bodies deep on average - and you'll see tombstones fighting for space.

WATCH: This eerie Czech 'ghost church' gets tourism revival  

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