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The Darker Side of Tourism: 7 Corners of the World Well Worth Visiting

The Beauty of Xiaohe
 The Beauty of Xiaohe

Visiting cemeteries and other burial grounds is becoming ever more popular. All over the world, the number those wanting to stroll around a graveyard has increased so much that travel agencies and private guides are constantly making new routes. Here are seven memorable cemeteries and customs that Travel on Spot would like to draw your attention to on your travels.

Hanging Coffins in Asia

One unique custom has existed for 2,000 years now in the Philippines. The deceased are buried in hollowed-out logs, which are then carried into caves high in the mountains. In some of the caves there are as many as several hundred of such log coffins.

Hanging cemetery of Sagada
Photo taken by Rick McCharles.  Hanging cemetery of Sagada

In other Asian countries such as in China and Indonesia, coffins containing the dead are hung on cliffs. They are affixed onto wooden or stone supporting hinges, which are hammered into the rock. The coffins seeming float in midair. The oldest and the most famous of these are the hanging coffins of the Bo people in China‘s Sichuan province – some of them are more than 3,750 years old.

For Westrners, the dead being buried this way seems inappropriate and is even frightening, but for Asians it is quite logical – why bury someone in the ground when you want them to get swiftly to heaven?

Coffins in Sagada
Photo taken by Jojo Nicdao.  Coffins in Sagada

However, tourists do gladly come to see the hanging coffins, although due to bad weather conditions, reaching such once-in-a-lifetime destination can prove difficult.

Upside-down boats serve as coffins

Small river cemetery mummy
Photo taken by  Small river cemetery mummy

In the middle of a desert in the north of Tibet, Chinese archeologists have discovered a unique burial ground. The mummified remains of the people buried there are more than 4,000 years old, however the mummies are brilliantly preserved. What is strange about them is their features, which are European. The burial ground is in one of the largest deserts of the world, and the dead are buried in... overturned boats.

Cross Bones Graveyard

This was a the eternal place of rest in Great Britain's capital for the so-called “single women” who (legally) worked in brothels of London. Earlier, these women were known to the public as Winchester Geese, and it was forbidden for them to participate in religious ceremonies and, after their death, to be buried in common cemeteries. They were instead buried on separate turf, which is now visited by crowds of curious excursionists.

Underwater Cemetery

Video by Max Jonjit.  

Established in 2007 in the USA by the coast of Miami, this underwater cemetery is the largest working reef in the world, with a depth of 12 metres. A funeral here would set you back around US $7,000. The cremated remains are mixed into cement and then affixed to the reef, and a bronze plaque is hung by it.

At present about 850 people rest here, however this underwater mausoleum has the capacity of 125,000 concrete tombs. It is true, however, that the only way to visit the Neptune Memorial Reef is in a diving suit.

City of the Dead, Cairo

Video by Alessandro Molatore.  

This is not only a cemetery, but also a city where people live. It seems that in the area of Al-Qarafa there are as many living inhabitants as there are graves. It's the poorest neighbourhood in Cairo. In this place, houses, shops and small workshops have stood alongside graves for thousands and thousands of years. Al-Qafra streches several kilometres from the north of Cairo to the south. Here rest the rich, noble and poor alike.

Why do people settle in such a city of the deceased? Some want to be as close as possible to their close ones who have passed away, others simply have no choice, as they were born here their parents live here. There are even some who live right in the crypts of the graves.

The place is not touristy, the local government doesn't advertise it, however brave visitors claim that the sensations are strange and unique, as if being in some enchanted land. Nevertheless. to visit unaccompanied is dangerous.

The Largest Cemeterty in the World

Video by Ahlulbayt TV.  

Wadi-us-Salaam (“the Valley of Peace”) is perhaps the largest graveyard on the planet. Located in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq. According to various sources, five to six million people are buried here, among whom are many Islamic prophets and, as regarded by Shias, the first Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib. The cemetary takes up more than 6 square kilometres.

The first people were buried here around two thousand years ago, and still, deceased Shia Muslims are brought here from all over Iraq – for them, to be buried here is a great honour.

La Recoleta Cemetery – the Most Famous in South America.

La Recoleta cemetery
Photo taken by Christian Haugen.  La Recoleta cemetery

When you arrive here, it will be hard to imagine you are in a graveyard, as the architecture is so beautiful. You could, however, imagine yourself to be in a Middle Age town that just happened to remain in the expanses of Buenos Aires. Wide avenues, entire streets and alleys are covered with whole generations of Argentinian personalities.

Almost all the monuments here are made of expensive marble and granite, some of the gravestones are decorated with silver and gold, and there are even some with doors and windows. Many of the superb mausoleums and marble sculptures are recognized national historical monuments. The peculiar mixture of styles (Classical, Gothic and Art Deco) attract art connoisseurs and photographers from all over the world.

Not many people know that La Recoleta was built around a a garden of a convent, made so that famous personalities from Argentinian culture, science and politics could be buried there, along with all of Argetina‘s flowers. People are still buried there to this day, although a place in the cemetery is very hard to obtain and very expensive.

Most notable is the Duarte family grave, which holds the remains of Argentina‘s First Lady, president Chuan Perón‘s wife, Evita. She died young of cancer, at the age of only 33, but during the years of her husband‘s presidency was considered an icon of the common people. Even today, on her grave flowers do not wilt.

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