Love cemeteries? You’re not alone. Being a taphophile (if you don’t know that’s the official term for it) or a tombstone tourist is an increasingly popular hobby. While cemeteries often conjure up images from gothic fiction, many are exceptionally beautiful places with rich histories and unique stories. However, though they may be beautiful and serene by day, by night they play host to a long and chilling history of hauntings and tales of things that go bump in the night.
If you’re planning on doing a spot of unusual sight-seeing here are the 9 most beautiful cemeteries that are absolutely to die for.
1. Highgate Cemetery, London, England
Known for: Classic example of Victorian architecture and style. Highgate cemetery is one of the most ornate and Gothic cemeteries in the world.
Famous Residents: Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and the parents of Charles Dickens.
Paranormal activity: In the 1970’s there were various rumours of vampire sightings, but perhaps the most well known paranormal account is the tale of a motorist who’s car broke down while driving along Swain’s Lane, close to the cemetery gate. After getting out of his car and lifting the hood he noticed to his horror that he was being spied on through the cemetery gates by an unnaturally tall, spectral figure.
2. Père Lachaise, Paris, France
Known for: It’s beautiful, eccentric and sometimes ghoulish tombs.
Famous Residents: Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Sarah Bernhardt, Gertrude Stein and Edith Piaf.
Paranormal activity: Visitors to the cemetery have claimed to have seen Jim Morrison’s ghost and the ghosts of Marcel Proust and Maurice Ravel. There have also been numerous sightings of a two lovers who rise from their graves each night in search of one another.
3. Les Catacombes, Paris, France
Known for: Being the worlds largest grave, as it is said to hold more than 6 million people.
Famous Residents: John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Paranormal activity: The Catacombes are generally considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Hundreds of ghostly sightings are reported each year, but perhaps one of the most chilling occurrences happened in 2009 when a video camera was discovered deep inside the human bone lined walls of the Catacombs.
After careful review it appears that an unidentified explorer was frightened by an unknown source resulting in him dropping his video camera. The final footage is of him running away into the darkness. Experts who have explored this same area of the catacombs say that when he dropped his camera his fate was sealed and that he more than likely joined the ranks of dead.
4. Xoxocotlan Cemetery, Oaxaca, Mexico
Known for: It’s Day of the Dead commemorations/celebrations. This cemetery comes alive on the Day of the Dead (Nov. 1), when mourners crowd its grounds to celebrate their loved ones.
Paranormal activity: On All Saints Day (1 November) it is said that all the spirits in the cemetery come back from the dead to visit their families.
5. La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Famous Residents: Eva Peron and Isabelle Colonna-Walewski, Napoleon’s granddaughter.
Paranormal activity: The cemetery is said to be a red carpet of lost souls. One story tells of a young girl, Rufina, who was mistakenly buried alive. After waking up in her own coffin, she battled to break free, but eventually suffocated. Upon discovery of her grizzly fate, her heartbroken father rebuilt her grave so to depict his daughter opening the doors to her tomb. It is said that she roams the cemetery at night unearthing dead bodies ensuring that they had not suffered the same fate as her.
6. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh, Scotland
Known for: Greyfriars Bobby, a Terrier who became famous in 19th-century Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself.
Paranormal activity: Between 1990 and 2006 there there have been more than 350 reported attacks and 170 reports of people collapsing while visiting this cemetery. People have reported being cut, bruised, bitten, scratched and most commonly blacking out.
7. Church Of Saint Mary Cemetery, Whitby, England
Known for: Commonly known as Dracula’s Graveyard, the Church of Saint Mary became famous after featuring in Bram Stoker’s book.
Paranormal activity: : Local legend has it that a large hearse, pulled by four black horses appears at night beside fresh graves, ready to take it’s inhabitant away. From within the coach a group of ghostly mourners would appear and help remove the body from its grave. This ghostly coach, lit by burning torches and driven by a headless coachman shrouded in a black cloak, then gallops away over the cliffs into the sea.
8. Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA
Known for: The infamous headless horseman.
Famous Residents: Author Washington Irving.
Paranormal activity: While we all know the Washing Irving story, it is actually thought to be based on an old German/Dutch folktale told by Dutch settlers of Tarry Town. The legend tells of an old man who did not believe in ghosts and one night met a horseman coming from his trip into the Hollow. The horseman made him climb up behind. They rode over bushes, hills, and swamps. When they reached the bridge, the horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton. He threw the old man into the brook and sprang away over the treetops with a clap of thunder.
9. Bonaventure Cemetery, Georgia, USA
Known for: The cemetery made famous in the film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, typifies the Southern Gothic style.
Paranormal activity: Is it said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in Georgia. One notable ghost is that of little Gracie Watson. Visitors claim to have heard the sound of the little girl weeping next to her tomb. Some visitors have even claimed to have seen tears of blood roll down the cheeks of her memorial statue.