The Most Famous Cemeteries in the World
Cemeteries draw us in, not only because they provide an engaging peek into the past, but they're also unique recreational areas for those hoping to get in touch with nature. After all, these final resting places take up some of the best plots of real estate around the world.
From Hollywood Forever Cemetery to Arlington National Cemetery, these 15 famous cemeteries are known for their ethereal beauty but also for their famous residents. Many sponsor tours and other special events, too, which are perfect for travelers to get a more unique look at local culture.
Which (or, shall we say, who) would you like to visit?
15. Père Lachaise Cemetery
Location: Paris, France
Notable residents: Honoré de Balzac, Frédéric Chopin, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde
Why You Should Visit Père Lachaise Cemetery
Probably the most famous cemetery in the world, Père Lachaise is a must-see when visiting Paris. About 3 million people visit Père Lachaise each year.
This cemetery covers a sprawling 108 acres and serves as both a final resting place and an open-air history lesson. You can take a guided tour around the park or walk these fascinating grounds alone and see which of history's most influential figures you can spot.
14. Arlington National Cemetery
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Notable residents: John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, John Glenn
Why You Should Visit Arlington National Cemetery
The most well-known military cemetery in the United States, Arlington welcomes 4 million visitors annually. Aside from its famous residents, which vary from decorated military members to politicians, Arlington boasts the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which has a guard posted 24/7.
Buried inside is an unnamed soldier from WWI, two from WWII and one from the Korean War. The Unknown of Vietnam was exhumed in 1988 after his identity was discovered. The Vietnam Unknown crypt has remained vacant since and stands in honor of that conflict. Some 400,000 veterans from the Revolutionary War to Desert Storm and their dependents rest here.
13. Hope Cemetery
Location: Barre, Vermont
Notable residents: NA
Why You Should Visit Hope Cemetery
Hope Cemetery is less known for its famous residents than its famous gravestones. Established in 1895, the small city was home to a booming granite industry and employed hundreds of stone cutters from around the world. One out of every three memorials in the U.S. at that time was made from Barre granite.
Many of the stonecutters died of silicosis, which was caused by granite dust, or the Spanish Flu and designed their own gravestones to showcase their skills before they passed on. Allegedly up to 75 percent of the stones in the cemetery were created by the people buried under them. Hope Cemetery is home to several unusual headstones (in the shape of objects from soccer balls to cars) all carved from Barre granite.
12. Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Location: Glendale, California
Notable residents: Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and many, many more
Why You Should Visit Forest Lawn Memorial Park
Forest Lawn is a privately owned chain of cemeteries in the Los Angeles area, with too many celebrity graves to count. However, they aren’t easy to find. The cemetery protects its residents — photography is not allowed in certain areas of the park (like the Great Mausoleum), and some areas are inaccessible to the public.
However, you will spot some famous graves by simply walking around, and a mile from the entrance at the summit of Forest Lawn is a museum that is open to the public with exceptional exhibits that change every few weeks.
11. Bonaventure Cemetery
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Notable residents: Johnny Mercer, Conrad Aiken
Why You Should Visit Bonaventure Cemetery
Less known for its famous residents than its sheer beauty, Bonaventure is the centerpiece of John Berendt’s Southern Gothic novel "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and the later film of the same name. Built on the site of the former Bonaventure Plantation in 1846, the cemetery has been a favorite of tourists due to its stunning headstones and sculptures under a canopy of Spanish moss.
In 1967, conservationist John Muir slept under the stars here and told a story about doing so in his 1916 book, "A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf."
10. Myles Standish Burial Ground
Location: Duxbury, Massachusetts
Notable residents: Myles Standish and other Mayflower pilgrims
Why You Should Visit Myles Standish Burial Ground
Myles Standish is the oldest maintained cemetery in the U.S. At only 1.5 acres, it’s small; it only has about 130 marked graves and was only in use from 1638 to 1789. Many Mayflower pilgrims are buried here, as is the boat’s captain, Myles Standish. Some early graves were marked only with fieldstones or wood, and their markers are long gone.
Even Standish himself was buried in an unmarked grave until 1893, at which point, the Duxbury Rural Society reclaimed the long-abandoned cemetery and built his memorial. The cemetery has been faithfully tended to ever since and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
9. Mt. Hope Cemetery
Location: Rochester, New York
Notable residents: Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass
Why You Should Visit Mt. Hope Cemetery
Rochester’s Mt. Hope Cemetery is the first municipal cemetery in the U.S. It’s located next to the University of Rochester and is situated on 196 acres. The cemetery has 350,000 people interred within its wall, and up to 600 Rochesterians are still buried here each year.
Aside from its Victorian Gothic beauty, the cemetery is widely known for a recent tradition of women who travel here to place “I voted” stickers on suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite. The headstone was damaged due to the residue left from the stickers during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run. The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery have since placed a clear Plexiglass sleeve over the headstone to prevent any future damage.
8. Highgate Cemetery
Location: London, England
Notable residents: Karl Marx, George Michael, Douglas Adams, Malcolm Mclaren
Why You Should Visit Highgate Cemetery
Highgate Cemetery is both a nature reserve and cemetery and is home to 170,000 people buried across the West Cemetery and the East Cemetery. The original portion of the cemetery opened in 1839 as one of the "Magnificent Seven” cemeteries, some of which are now closed.
Highgate features beautiful Victorian Gothic headstones and plenty of greenery for birds and small animals. It also has an occult past — it’s rumored to be the site of the Highgate Vampire and other supernatural entities.
7. Green-Wood Cemetery
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Notable residents: Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, William "Bill The Butcher" Poole
Why You Should Visit Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is a sprawling 478-acre “rural” resting place with over half a million permanent residents. When it was opened in 1838, it was one of the first landscaped, park-like sites in the city, and New Yorkers would come from miles around to picnic and walk its shaded green paths.
Today, it’s less of a tourist attraction, but you can still visit and leave your darkest secrets behind. For the next two decades, artist Sophie Calle’s interactive art project will allow visitors to leave their secret in an obelisk’s slot on a slip of paper. Every so often, she comes in to empty the obelisk and burn the secrets. It’s a great way to get something off your chest without anyone knowing!
6. Granary Burying Ground
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Notable residents: Sam Adams, Crispus Attucks, John Hancock, Paul Revere
Why You Should Visit Granary Burying Ground
Another cemetery steeped in early American history, the Granary Burying Ground is set in what was once Boston Common. Founded in 1660, it was created to alleviate overcrowding in another burial ground nearby.
The Granary stopped accepting new interments in 1880. It holds about 5,000 people, with 2,345 in marked graves. As recently as 2009, a tourist on a self-guided tour fell through an unknown crypt, which is now believed to be the final resting place of Jonathan Armitage, a Boston selectman who died in the early 18th century.
5. Vienna Central Cemetery
Location: Vienna, Austria
Notable residents: Ludwig van Beethoven, Falco, Johann Strauss
Why You Should Visit Vienna Central Cemetery
Vienna Central Cemetery is the second largest cemetery in Europe, with over 3 million residents. Classical music lovers flock to the cemetery each year to see the final resting places of Brahms, Schubert and the most well-known composer of all, Beethoven.
Vienna Central Cemetery also serves as a recreation area for locals, who love hiking, jogging and biking. There are also plenty of small animals that call the graveyard home, including deer, badgers, martens and kestrels. You can walk through yourself or take a carriage tour of the grounds.
4. Westwood Memorial Park
Location: Los Angeles, California
Notable residents: Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Jack Lemmon, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Don Knotts, Hugh Hefner, Don Knotts
Why You Should Visit Westwood Memorial Park
The nice thing about visiting Los Angeles cemeteries is the wealth of celebrity plots each one has, and Westwood Memorial Park is filled with famous residents. At just over 2.5 acres, Westwood’s celebrity graves and crypts are easily located and accessible, with a single, circular drive that covers most areas of the park.
This small cemetery is in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it location on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard. You’ll need specific directions to find it, and its only entrance is actually not on Wilshire but to the west on Glendon Avenue.
3. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Location: Sleepy Hollow, New York
Notable residents: Washington Irving, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Samuel Gompers, Elizabeth Arden, Leona Helmsley, Henry David Thoreau
Why You Should Visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is better known for its fictional deceased (as written in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”) than its true residents; however, there are many famous people here, including author Washington Irving himself.
Sleepy Hollow Cemetery opened in 1849 and has since been a favorite of tourists looking for the whole Sleepy Hollow experience, which can include a Headless Horseman sighting or two during its Halloween tours as well as other sites in the area that the book made famous.
2. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Location: Los Angeles, California
Notable residents: Rudoph Valentino, Johnny Ramone, Mickey Rooney, Douglas Fairbanks, Peter Lorre, Tyrone Power, Mel Blanc, Chris Cornell, Judy Garland
Why You Should Visit Hollywood Forever
Hollywood's only cemetery has more stars than are listed from the silent era to the present day. It opened in 1899 as Hollywood Cemetery, but by the 1990s (as Hollywood Memorial Park), it was in a state of disrepair.
In 1998, it was bought by new owners, rechristened Hollywood Forever and given a complete restoration. Not only is it a still-operating cemetery, but it is also a popular film (thanks to the Cinespia organization) and concert venue as well as a filming location for major TV shows and movies. Its Day of the Dead celebration is also a high point of the Halloween season.
1. Colma, California
Notable residents: Joe DiMaggio and Wyatt Earp
Why You Should Visit Colma, California
As San Francisco grew over the 19th and 20th centuries, it was in dire need of burial plots. In the early 1920s, the decision was made to exhume all of San Francisco’s dead to make more room for the living. One-hundred-thousand people were moved to the town of Colma, and today, the deceased population outnumbers the living in the city’s 17 cemeteries by about 1,000 to one — 1.5 million versus a little under 1,500 residents.
However, that doesn’t mean they moved everyone. One little girl was found at a construction site in San Francisco in 2017 and has since been moved to her final resting place in Colma.