Europe boasts of several beautiful cemeteries that serve as final resting places and captivating outdoor spaces. These cemeteries are filled with history, art, and tranquility and often feature breathtaking landscapes, intricate tombstones, and beautiful monuments. They are important cultural sites and peaceful settings for reflection and contemplation. This article will explore some of the most stunning cemeteries in Europe, showcasing their distinct atmosphere and the stories within their hallowed grounds.
The Most Beautiful Cemeteries in Europe
1. Père Lachaise
Père Lachaise Cemetery, located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, is widely renowned for its impressive and artistic tombs. As the largest cemetery in the city, it spans 44 hectares and showcases a variety of architectural styles, including Gothic, Greek Revival, and Haussmannian. Many gravestones and mausoleums display elaborate sculptures designed by some of the most talented artists. The cemetery has become a significant point of interest due to its aesthetic appeal and the notable figures laid to rest there.
Many influential individuals are interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery, attracting countless admirers who pay their respects. Among those buried at the cemetery are legendary French writer and playwright Molière, Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, and international singing sensation Édith Piaf. But perhaps one of the most well-known graves is that of Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors, whose tomb has become a pilgrimage site for rock music fans from around the world.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is easily accessible by public transportation. The Philippe Auguste and Père Lachaise metro stations (Line 2) or Gambetta Station (Line 3) are within walking distance of the cemetery entrance. Comfortable footwear is recommended, as the cemetery grounds can be quite hilly in certain areas. When visiting, allot enough time to wander among the countless tombs and take in the serene beauty that this historic site has to offer.
2. Highgate Cemetery
London, United Kingdom
Highgate Cemetery, located on the north side of London, is known for its remarkable beauty and rich architectural and artistic heritage. It opened in 1839 as part of the Magnificent Seven cemeteries established during the Victorian era and features splendid Gothic architecture and stunning sculptures and tombs throughout its grounds. The cemetery became famous not only for its lush gardens, winding paths, and ivy-covered memorials but also as the resting place of several famous people.
Among those interred at Highgate Cemetery are notable figures from various fields, including philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), scientist Michael Faraday, and punk pioneer Malcolm McLaren.
London Underground’s Archway Station and Overground’s Upper Holloway Station connect central London to the graveyard. It’s a pleasant walk from either terminal through picturesque neighborhoods leading up to the cemetery gates. While planning your visit, note that guided tours are required to access the West Cemetery section, whereas self-guided visits are allowed in the East Cemetery.
3. Montjuïc Cemetery
Montjuïc Cemetery, a picturesque graveyard located on the slopes of Montjuïc Hill in Barcelona, is known for its stunning beauty and unique design elements. This cemetery has gained popularity due to its intricate modernist sculptures, impressive mausoleums, and exceptional architecture. Notable tombs, including the neoclassical tomb of musician Josep Anselm Clavé and the Art Nouveau tomb of painter Ramon Casas, showcase the artistic range within this remarkable gravesite.
Many illustrious people have been laid to rest at Montjuïc Cemetery, making it a significant point of interest for history buffs. Esteemed figures such as Joan Gamper, the founder of FC Barcelona, renowned Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Carme Chacón, Spain’s first female defense minister, are all buried within its bounds.
To visit Montjuïc Cemetery, you can take bus 21 or 107 from Plaça d’Espanya in central Barcelona. For a more comfortable experience, plan your visit during non-peak hours to avoid crowds.
4. Old Jewish Cemetery
The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is situated in the city’s Jewish Quarter. It is a fascinating historic destination established in the 15th century. This burial site has become famous for its distinct beauty and graves layered atop one another. Its striking tombstones, showcasing a variety of styles such as Renaissance and Baroque designs, stand as silent witnesses to centuries of life and death.
During World War II, the Old Jewish Cemetery found itself in the midst of Prague’s Jewish Ghetto, an area where Jews were forced to live under dire conditions. Countless lives lost during the Holocaust are commemorated here.
Among the cemetery’s famous residents are Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (also known as the Maharal of Prague) and Rabbi David Gans.
To reach the Old Jewish Cemetery, you can use public trams or the Prague Metro to get to the nearby Staromestska station.
5. Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a historic cemetery situated in Edinburgh near the Grassmarket area. Renowned for its picturesque scenery and gothic atmosphere, the cemetery attracts attention due to its elegantly carved tombstones and monuments—including the famous Greyfriars Bobby statue. This resting place hosts celebrated personalities such as George Buchanan, a revered scholar and poet, as well as architect James Craig, who designed Edinburgh’s New Town.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is a short walk from Edinburgh’s prominent Royal Mile. Public transportation options include several nearby bus routes.
6. Cimitero Monumentale
Cimitero Monumentale Milan, situated in northern Milan, is renowned for its incredible artistry and the famous individuals laid to rest within its boundaries. Established in 1866, this cemetery showcases impressive styles such as neo-gothic, classical, and art deco. Among the many distinguished tombs in the cemetery are those of Alessandro Manzoni, a celebrated Italian writer, and the Campari family’s mausoleum – a prime example of Egyptian revival style.
Reaching Cimitero Monumentale Milan is relatively simple, as it can be accessed via public transportation like the metro system (M5 – Monumentale stop) or city buses. Visiting hours typically fall between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM Monday through Sunday, except for December 25th and the 1st of January when it remains closed.
7. Cementerio de La Almudena
Cementerio de La Almudena, located in Madrid, Spain, is recognized for its stunning beauty and impressive architectural features. Situated in the city’s eastern part, this cemetery is renowned for its mesmerizing combination of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Mudéjar, and Neo-Romanesque styles. The cemetery has remarkable tombs, including the Pantheon of Illustrious Men. Among the prominent individuals interred at La Almudena are Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, renowned architect Antonio Palacios Ramilo, celebrated poet Pedro Salinas, and influential painter Joaquín Sorolla.
Getting to Cementerio de La Almudena is straightforward – simply board Line 2 or 5 of Madrid’s Metro and alight at La Elipa station. It’s just a short walk from there to reach the cemetery entrance.
8. First Cemetery of Athens
As the oldest cemetery in Greece’s capital, the First Cemetery of Athens boasts a rich cultural heritage amidst a picturesque landscape of cypress trees and neoclassical monuments. Among its most famous residents are notable Greek poets Kostis Palamas and Angelos Sikelianos and national hero Georgios Karaiskakis.
9. Protestant Cemetery
Rome‘s Protestant Cemetery, also known as the Non-Catholic Cemetery, is a beautiful and tranquil oasis located near the ancient Roman Pyramid of Cestius. This picturesque burial ground is home to diverse nationalities and faiths, including notable figures such as poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The cemetery offers guided tours that showcase its rich history, landscape, and artistic tombs, making it a must-visit for lovers of art, literature, and history.
Established in 1874, the Central Cemetery boasts beautiful chapels, landscaped parks, and even a designated area for Viennese Jewish citizens.
Located on the outskirts of Vienna, the Central Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe and embodies Austria’s rich cultural heritage. With its stunning landscape architecture and a vast array of opulent tombs dedicated to famous residents like Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Johann Strauss II, this necropolis is more than just a final resting place for the deceased; it is an open-air museum that attracts visitors from around the world.
11. Cimetière de Loyasse
Loyasse Cemetery is an impressive burial ground located in Lyon. Established in the 19th century, this hillside graveyard boasts panoramic views of the city below. In addition to its striking beauty, Loyasse Cemetery houses the tombs of several notable French residents, such as politician Jules Ferry and architect Tony Garnier. With its picturesque setting and historical significance, Loyasse Cemetery is well worth visiting in Lyon.