Cemeteries. Some people associate them with zombies, creepy hands poking out of graves and cold wind and mist. Many of our Spotters see them as good places to relax, let your mind run free and learn about the history of the city.
Most people have heard of the famous cemeteries in Paris (Père Lachaise), Prague (Old Jewish Cemetery) and London (Highgate cemetery). The cemeteries our Spotters have written about are cemeteries that most guidebooks did not mention and therefore are not overrun with tourists, but still just as beautiful and historically-worthy as the famous ones!
There are many beautiful cemeteries our Spotters have written about. So if the city you live in, or are visiting, is not listed in this top 10, look up the city’s blog and you might be able to find one there that unfortunately didn’t make the list.
In random order…
1. Jurjevsko Cemetery, Zagreb
Our Spotter Nevena doesn’t mind that it’s haunted, she sees the place as an interesting and mysterious location: “On some tombstones you can read about loving wives grieving for their husbands or young daughters saying the nicest words about their fathers. Other have some symbols like skulls and crossbones which make you wonder what they’re about: some dark secret or a symbol of a secret society?”
2. St. Marx Cemetery – Vienna
Vienna Spotter Linda: “The Mozart lovers, who know the true story, the very neighbors in the third district and the gloomy city tourists may know about this spot. But even some of my Viennese friends have never seen or heard about this attraction.”
The St Marx Cemetery in Vienna has amazing weather-beaten tombstones, sculptures fallen to bits and pieces, epigrams worn off by the ravages of time. If you can read German you can learn more about the profession of the deceased on the tombstone – brewer, a landlord, a cigarette shop owner, etc..
3. Kerameikos – Athens
Kerameikos Cemetery Athens is the most important cemetery of ancient Athens. It used to be the borderline of the city. Although it’s very centrally located, between some major Athens roads, “when you enter the site, time starts to move at a different pace.” according to Athens Spotter Marilena.
4. Melaten Cemetery – Cologne
This specific cemetery is one to wander around in for quite some time. Melaten Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city, housing over 55.000 graves! It’s located quite centrally, however when it was built (over 200 years ago) it was outside the city walls. It has a relaxing atmosphere, because of all the green around. It’s especially beautiful in autumn.
“Many of the large graves are decorated with sculptures and impressive tombstones. It feels like some sort of outdoor museum – and the best is that it’s completely for free!“.
5. Montjuïc Cemetery – Barcelona
Montjuïc Cemetery is best to visit with a map, as it’s so big! It has multiple gorgeous memorials to interesting people such as artists and revolutionaries. The most restful, but also moving, area is the space of El Fossar de Pedrera, a former quarry. Here the bodies of thousands of unidentified victims of Francoist repression were dumped. Although it’s a sad memory, it’s good to take a break and think about a place’s history every now and then.
6. Navje – Ljubljana
Navje was created to be a Slovenian pantheon, housing tombs of the most deserving Slovenians. The name Navje comes from Slavic mythology. The place has an open classical building rebuilt from a pavilion and memorial park. You can find it behind the main train and bus station. It’s very calming to have a little walk or sit on the grass and read a book.
7. Nunhead Cemetery – London
“Cemeteries should only be visited on certain circumstances (for example, you wouldn’t want to take a guy/girl there on a first date). However when you need to unwind or just want to learn a bit about London’s rich history, then the Victorian cemeteries are a way to explore and see the Victorians’ unique relationships with life and death” recommends our London Spotter Peter Hoffer.
Unlike at the more famous Highgate Cemetery, admission at Nunhead Cemetery London is free and visitors are not required to join a group led by a guide. And it’s just as beautiful: “Stone angels whose faces are faded from the rain, ivy creeping over statues, tombstones with names barely legible whose inhabitants might be forgotten forever.”
8. Petržalka War Cemetery – Bratislava
Petržalka Bunker & War Cemetery in Bratislava is quite a walk from the city – perfect for a day of exploring around the borders of Slovakia & Austria! The recently restored WW1 cemetery just opposite is the final resting place of soldiers of different nationalities. Also take a look at the bulky military bunker, which was restored by volunteers.
Bratislava Spotter Lenka: “I like how this place soaked in the dark history is nowadays visited by families, cyclists and joggers. It’s quite a hidden spot surrounded by thick vegetation on the edge of a European metropolis and the Austrian countryside. Even in the high season it never feels crowded.”
9. Old Believers Cemetery – Kiev
Our Spotter Elena Shcherbak recommends visiting Old Believers Cemetery Kiev.
Old Believers were Christians with their own traditions and rules who were persecuted and lived here in the 18-20 century. The cemetery is now closed and abandoned, but the gates are usually open. This is a very “Spotted by Locals” spot where you won’t find any other tourists, and an excellent chance to learn something about an almost forgotten group of people.
10. Bogoslovskoye Cemetery – Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg has quite a few very famous cemeteries. Bogoslovskoye Cemetery Saint Petersburg is more remote, and more obscure, but very interesting.
Our Spotter Dmitriy Ivanov: “Bogoslovskoye Cemetery’s main attraction are graves by some of Russia’s biggest rock stars. New-wave band Kino‘s singer Viktor Tsoi‘s car-crash death in 1990 was mourned by millions of fans, many of whom camped at his gravesite in Bratskaya path for years. I was a bit scared of the area when I was a kid, as my school was across the road.“