If you've never considered adding cemeteries to your list of tourist destinations, let Loren Rhoads's 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die convince you otherwise. Ahead are excerpts and photos from her equally eerie and informative book, detailing 11 of most notable graves to check out.
When you stop to notice, you realize people are buried everywhere. Every tourist destination has a cemetery, from New York City to Hong Kong to the Isle of Iona. Some tourist destinations are tombs: the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal or the Royal Mounds of Gamla Uppsala in Sweden, for instance. There are permanent residents in museums, houses of worship, ghost towns, battlegrounds . . . even in national parks. You may have already visited someone's grave without giving it a second thought if you've been to Pompeii or Westminster Abbey or the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Why would anyone go out of the way to visit a graveyard intentionally? In addition to the fascinating stories they contain, cemeteries can be open-air sculpture parks full of one-of-a-kind artwork. They provide habitats for birds and wildlife, as well as arboretums and gardens of surprising beauty. Cemeteries appeal to art-lovers, amateur sociologists, birdwatchers, master gardeners, historians, hikers, genealogists, picnickers, and anyone who just wants to stop and smell the roses. Our relationships with the places we visit can be deepened and enriched by learning the stories of those who came — and stayed — before us.
There's nothing like visiting a cemetery to give you a little perspective, to remind you that every day above ground is a good day. I hope you find some inspiration for your travels here.