Cemeteries – Different Takes From Around the World


Cemeteries Around The World

Although cemeteries in many parts of the world are seen as grim and unfrequented places, there are other corners of the world that treat them entirely differently, and their appearances could not be more different.

Guatemala – The Rainbow Cemeteries

Without a doubt what makes Guatemala’s cemeteries stand out is the fact that they have so many colours! You can see a Guatemalan cemetery from miles away, as all the gravestones are painted in different colours. It is really a sight to see.

Ecuador – A Happening Place

Different Cemeteries

Day of the Dead with the Salasakas… Yep, that bench is a grave

What sticks out most for the cemeteries in Ecuador is not specifically their appearance but rather what happens at the beginning of November. To be honest, I’m not sure if it happens in all the cemeteries in Ecuador or if the little village that we were in for day of the dead happened to be particular. Essentially the way it worked out was this, on November second, everyone cooked up a storm (the night before) and brought all of the food down to the cemetery in the morning. They installed around the graves of their dearly departed and shared food with friends and neighbours. The drinking started, the partying started, and basically they used this one day to say goodbye to everyone that had passed away within the last year. Really, it’s a whole story itself, that I’ll be writing up soon, but the way that the Ecuadorians turn their cemetery into the place to be for a couple of days every year certainly earns them a spot on the list.

Canada – Big Spaces

Canada, as my home country, happens to be what I think of for having ‘normal’ cemeteries. However, after visiting a fair few in my travels, it’s become apparent that Canada tends to do cemeteries in their own way as well. Specifically, many Canadian cemeteries could be mistaken for Parks, with giant trees and green space, squirrels and birds living it up with the dead. It’s not a rule throughout the country, but in general Canada goes down as the country that puts the most nature into their cemeteries. (At least of the ones I’ve visited)

Different Cemeteries

Oscar Wilde’s lustful resting place

France – Star Power

This post was undoubtedly inspired by a recent trip to perhaps one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. Pere Lachaise cemetery in France has the likes of Osar Wilde, Jim Morrisson, Emile Zola, Edith Piaf, amongst a whole list of famous celebs buried within its grounds. Sure, all the cemeteries in France are not of this sort, but this one is really a kicker! Huge and elaborate head stones that have been carved into shrines and statues sit beside the most humble of grave plots. If nothing else, the grave of Oscar Wilde, with it’s many shades of puckered lipstick marks from devoted fans that just had to get in one last kiss, both on the headstone itself and on the protective glass that was placed to keep the painted lips off headstone make this place worth a visit.

When you travel, you never really know what sort of things are going to pop up and make you realize that what you always took as being ‘nomal’ back home was merely the way that your own society does it. Cemeteries and the manner in which they differ around the world is a prime example.

Jonny Jenkins

Jonny Jenkins

My name is Jonny, my friends call me Stef. I'm Canadian born, but don't find my identity based upon some borders that man drew hundreds of years ago. I have begun to make my way through the world, travelling and living in many different countries and cultures. I believe whole heartedly in staying longer and going deeper to get the best understanding possible of many different perspectives of life. In order to do so, you have to speak the language. I am no polyglot, but have started to put more emphasis on learning languages in the last few years. I have learned Spanish, relearned French, and started in on Portuguese, German, Indonesian and Malagasy. When it comes to the third world, I am willing to help where they (and not I) decide they need it... in the first world, I am hoping to inspire and motivate people to live more engaging lives.

10 Replies to “Cemeteries – Different Takes From Around the World”

  1. I recommend visiting the grave yards in Bolivia. These are incredibly creepy – instead of grave stones they have little locker-style compartments full of incense and photos, and weird ballerina music plays. It would be a good addition to your list so visit there next!

    1. Awesome! Done and done! Bolivia was a major part of my S. America plans a couple of years ago, but a broken foot kept me in Ecuador (no regrets though, amazing experience volunteering there)… I’ll certainly be heading back down to visit the folks in Ecuador and Bolivia won’t be denied this time around!! Looking forward to the cemeteries.

  2. Marissa says:

    You don’t always come across bloggers writing about cemetaries on their travels. Brilliant idea! I know people who are always interested in visiting them on their travels, certainly not the majority but it’s also a part of the local culture that should be experience. My favourite is in Havana, Cuba. Although in a cemetery in Barbados I learnt how they bury witches vertically and upside down.

    1. Wait… what?! Vertically and upside down!!! There’s a fantastic little tidbit you don’t come by everyday, I love it.

  3. Elena says:

    My favourite one (if you can have a favourite cemetery) is the one in Buenos aires but the ones in Punta arenas, Chilean Patagonia and in Sucre, Bolivia are not less impressive

    1. Thanks Elena, I’ll have to check those out. Been looking at that area for awhile

  4. i love visiting cemeteries, though i’ve never done it anywhere but in the united states. my favorites are the really old ones, with the ancient and unique headstones, or the ones with US presidents and famous people. my daughters and i sought out walt disney our last trip in california and then in virginia, you can see 3 presidents all in the same cemetery. sometimes, when on road trips, we will pass old run down cemeteries and just stop and read the headstones, they have some interesting phrases and such. great stort. thanks for the info, very interesting. i’d like to see the colorful ones in guatamala.

    1. The ones in Guatemala are really interesting for sure. But, especially if you’re into famous ones, Pere Lachaise in Paris is outstanding. You definitely need a map to figure out who’s who (I ended up looking at a lot of ‘famous in France’ people)… but it’s well worth spending an afternoon. I can’t think of visiting any in the States… I’ll have to get on that next time I come through.

  5. Emily says:

    I know not everyone will agree with me, but I find exploring cemeteries absolutely fascinating so always make a point of tracking it down. Barcelona has an amazing one! Whether that huge party is an Ecuadorian tradition or if it’s specific to only that village, I think it’s a lovely thing to do. It’s so interesting finding out how differently countries deal with the dead.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more Emily. Barcelona is such a beautiful city in general, and such an intriguing one. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s an amazing cemetery there… In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have already visited it… Hmmmm….

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