Did you hear the one about the historic cemetery? History buffs are dying to get in. Dad jokes aside, burial grounds can offer an unparalleled opportunity to come face to face with the past—and some of them are really beautiful, to boot. Below, we've collected nine must-visit graveyards from around the world.
Mount Auburn Cemetery, Watertown, Massachusetts, United States
Located just outside of Boston, Mount Auburn Cemetery is America's oldest planned, rural burial ground. It's also the final resting place of such titans of American culture as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Winslow Homer, and Isabella Stewart Gardner. But Mount Auburn isn't just historic. It's also drop-dead gorgeous, to the point that it's said to have inspired Frederick Law Olmstead's design of New York City's Central Park. It's fitting, then, that modern Bostonians tend to think of the cemetery as the ideal spot for a peaceful stroll.
Père Lachaise, Paris, France
The word 'necropolis' means 'city of the dead,' and it's hard to imagine a cemetery more urbane than Père Lachaise in Paris. With its wide cobblestone avenues and architectural above-ground crypts, the cemetery certainly looks the part—and, giving it some serious bohemian street cred, it boasts a bevy of history's most famous artists, including Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, among its permanent residents.
Camposanto Monumentale, Pisa, Italy
Pisa may be best known for its leaning tower, but it's also home to one of the world's most stunning cemeteries. Built on sacred soil carted over from the Holy Land during the Crusades and completed in the 15th century, the Camposanto Monumentale looks more like a fairytale palace than a burial ground.
Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria
If you're a classical music fan, you simply can't miss Vienna's Zentralfriedhof. Buried there are such musical titans as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, and Antonio Salieri. They're in good company: planned when Vienna was a world capital, the Zentralfriedhof is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. Today, Vienna residents joke that the massive burial ground is "half the size of Zurich and twice as much fun."
Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow, Russia
Though built just before the turn of the 20th century, Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery didn't rise to national prominence until the graveyards of a number of nearby monasteries were scheduled for demolition on Stalin's orders. The graves from these older cemeteries—including that of famous writer Nikolai Gogol—were moved to Novodevichy. Soon, Novodevichy had become one of Russia's most prestigious burial grounds. Visitors can pay their respects to such illustrious Russians as Anton Chekov, Sergei Prokofiev, Nikita Kruschev, and Boris Yeltsin. In keeping with its highbrow character, Novodevichy is also known for the striking modern art that adorns many graves, making it as much a sculpture park as it is a cemetery.
Protestant Cemetery, Rome, Italy
Dating from the early 18th century, this small, lush cemetery was built to serve Rome's growing non-Catholic population. It's now most famous for being an eternal resting place in the eternal city for two of history's most famous anglophone poets, John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Best known for being the burial place of Eva Perón (you know, Evita), La Recoleta is one of the New World's most stunning European-style cemeteries. Like Père Lachaise, its tidy avenues and beautiful crypts make it a stylish, picturesque city of the dead.
Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan
There's a lot to recommend Tokyo's Aoyama cemetery. It's Japan's oldest public cemetery, it's one of the most scenic spots in the city to take in the annual cherry blossom bonanza, and it has a special section full of late 19th-century "foreigner" graves. Perhaps most importantly, however, it's also the resting place of Hachiko, the famously loyal Shiba Inu who waited for his owner outside Shibuya Station every single day for nine years after the owner's death.
Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques, Asnières-sur-Seine, France
Speaking of beloved pets, this list wouldn't be complete without the world's first purpose-built pet cemetery, located in a suburb of Paris. Since it opened in 1899, Asnières-sur-Seine's Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques—Cemetery for Dogs and Other Domestic Animals—has kept alive the memories of tens of thousands of furry friends.
Featured image via Flickr user 130206686@N04