The Most Beautiful and Haunting Cemeteries Around the World
Ahead of Halloween, we’re highlighting haunted, beautiful cemeteries around the world, ranging from the spookiest burial grounds to centuries-old traditions. Around the globe, attitudes on death differ, and as a result there’s a spectrum of different cultural processes behind burying the dead. Below, we’ve created a list of the cemeteries with beautiful cultural traditions or bittersweet stories behind them.
The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
In the Philippines, a burial process that involves the hanging of coffins has been practiced for over 2,000 years. Elderly people – or their families – carve their coffins out of wood, and are placed inside once they’ve passed away. These coffins are hung inside caves, and the deceased are placed near their ancestors. Some of the coffins are centuries-old, and some have deteriorated and fallen. It’s thought that the higher the dead are placed, the greater their chances of reaching a higher place in the afterlife.
A Catholic Woman and Her Protestant Husband in Roermond
Two burial grounds in Roermond, the Netherlands, are connected in a particular way. The two gravestones of Lady J.C.P.H van Aefferden and her Protestant husband, J.W.C van Gorcum, were not allowed to be buried together due to their differing faiths. The pair married in 1842 and it caused quite a commotion; van Gorcum was not only a Protestant while his wife was a Catholic, but he also was not part of the nobility. Van Gorcum passed away in 1880 and was buried in the Protestant part of a cemetery in Roermond. Before she died in 1888, van Aefferden refused to be buried in the family tomb, choosing instead to be placed on the other side of the wall, as close as she could get to her husband. The wall marks the divide between the Protestant and Catholic areas of the gravesite. Connecting the graves are two clasped hands.
Located in Mount Koya, Japan, is the Buddhist cemetery Okunoin, which rests over 200,000 souls. Shingon Buddhism originated in this sacred place of Koyasan over 1,000 years ago, and the religion’s founder, Kobo Dashi, lies in his mausoleum here. Such is his influence, that thousands of monks and religious supporters around Japan have chosen to be buried around him in Okunoin. It was believed that the bridge to Okunoin was the boundary line between two worlds, and the surrounding cedar trees lining the path paved way into the spirit world.
Llanos Cemetery can be found on the high road to Taos Scenic Byway on some isolated land in Truchas, New Mexico. In true Mexican spirit, the graves are decorated with colourful ornaments around the graves; from flowers to religious statues, and toys to flags and vibrant pinwheels. The burial ground is recognised for its famous ghost bike memorial that had been put in place for a deceased rider. Surrounding the cemetery are views of the high mountains of Truchas Peaks.
As suggested in its name, Merry Cemetery is known for its dark humour and vibrant colours. It’s here that people are expected to laugh at death. Found in the town of Sapanta in Romania, this famous cemetery holds over 800 crosses, each displaying the personal details and final moments of the bodies they symbolise, with graphic illustrations and limericks. The first tomb in Merry Cemetery was created back in 1935 by a local craftsman, called Stan Ioan Patras, who’d been inspired by Dacian culture and its belief in celebrating life over grieving death.