This was my original blog post at the start of Cemetery Travel in 2011, so I’ll repost my manifesto here:

Doucherot monument, Pere Lachaise Cemetery

I started visiting graveyards by accident. A series of missed connections during the first Gulf War resulted in an unanticipated layover in London, where I just happened to pick up Victorian Valhalla, a guidebook to Highgate Cemetery. My husband Mason wanted to visit the graveyard because John Gay’s photos made it look so pretty. In reality, Highgate was ravishing, full of dramatic marble angels taking wing.

As it happened, one graveyard led to another. Mason and I decided to visit Père Lachaise in Paris because so many famous people came to rest there. As we wandered, we accidentally discovered my favorite grave marker in all the world: shackled in the granite, Prometheus raises one fist against the gods. If that doesn’t sum up my feeling about death, I don’t know what might.

So I started looking at graveyards because they were pretty, then because famous people rested there. I quickly learned that practically anonymous gravestones tell the best stories. I developed a fascination with history as reflected in burial grounds, which led to studying trends in mortuary decoration. You can say I’m a cemetery aficionado. I don’t mind.

I try to list a new Cemetery of the Week each Wednesday. These are brief encyclopedia entries, something to give the flavor of a particular graveyard — enough to whet your appetite for travel — illustrated with my photographs or postcards from my collection.

199Cemeteries_cover lo-res

In my travels, I’ve discovered that graveyards are really very fragile. All it takes is a windstorm, a flood, or a fallen tree to do irreparable harm, not to mention the kind of damage a determined teenager can do. Cemeteries are vulnerable if they are not visited. My mission is to get people to go. The least I can do for the pleasure cemeteries have given me is to inspire and encourage other people to visit for themselves. People protect the things they love. With any luck and the right guidance, you’ll find something to love in a cemetery, too, whether it’s historical figures, beautiful statuary, wildlife, breathtaking scenery, or what have you.

If you need more inspiration, 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die is coming out in October 2017. It’s available for preorder at Amazon.

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20 Responses to Welcome

  1. mark Ballogg says:

    Loren, I found you while googling to find potential supporters for the Pere LaChaise coffee table book I’m trying to print. The public funding site, Kickstarter accepted my project proposal and I’m up and running. Please click on the link above to get a better idea of what I’m about. I hope you think it’s worth posting on your blog. I also welcome any comments or ideas you might have to help me reach my goal of creating an amazing
    fine art photography book on Pere Lachaise. Thanks for your time, Mark


  2. natalieclaw says:

    Hi Loren- I found your blog from a link on Tripbase, and love what I stumbled on! I just listed you as one of my nominees for the #My7Links project… can’t wait to see what you dig up 🙂


  3. Alicia says:

    Loren, what an intriguing window on how we commemorate life and death!
    I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries, too. My hometown used to hold a cemetery “open day” once a year, encouraging people to picnic in the grounds. I thought it was creative and so healthy… addressing myths and helping to ally a few fears into the bargain.

    I had a wonderful visit to “La Recoleta” cemetery in Buenos Aires a few years ago. Of course, you have to hunt to find Eva Peron’s grave, but you see the most amazing tributes along the way. How we bury our dead says so much about us as a culture. I’ll be back! Cheers, Alicia.


  4. Everywhere I go I try to look for the oldest graveyard in the area. Thanks for sharing. Take care.


  5. Christine Knutson says:

    Church of the Holy Sepulchre


  6. rachelynne says:

    I’ve nominated you for The Sunshine Award! You can see my post here: http://pennilesstraveler.com/2012/08/25/the-sunshine-award/ Congrats!!


  7. bluebrightly says:

    When I was a kid a cemetery abutted our back yard and we would play on the graves. I wouldn’t do that now, but I have always loved these places, and, like someone above, tend to look for the old ones when I travel. This makes me think I must put together a set of cemetery photos…thank you for taking people on this journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura says:

    Wonderful site! Thank you for sharing your interest and curiosity. I am also love cemeteries and enjoy visiting as many as I can. I posted a link to your site on my “Early Gravestones” Facebook page.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. crziebird says:

    Thanks for visiting my site and liking the Little Gracie Watson, Bonaventure Cemetery post. I just started my blog and have so much to learn and do, so thanks for the like. I love your site and frankly there is nothing I like better than traipsing around a cemetery. You have an Awesome site!


  10. Hi Loren. I am thrilled to find your blog! My sister-in-law and I both love cemeteries… the older the better. She was generous enough to buy me your book, which I love. As we travel, I always hope to find an interesting cemetery to visit and photograph. My two favorites so far are the Necropolis de Cristobel Colon in Cuba and the Panteon General in Oaxaca (where we will be traveling to again this year for the Day of the Dead). Unfortunately, when I traveled to Europe, I was too young to fully appreciate the magnificence of the cemeteries there.

    On a recent trip to Vancouver Island, I visited a cemetery listed in your book, Ross Bay, in Victoria, and enjoyed it very much. I wanted to alert you to another cemetery on Vancouver Island that you might appreciate. It’s located on the north tip in the small First Nation village called Port Rupert. Many of the markers are totem poles. If you get a chance to visit that area, I encourage you to check it out. If I knew how to send you a few pictures, I would.

    Anyway, love your blog and I look forward to further updates.


    • Loren Rhoads says:

      Thank you so much for your kind note! I’m always glad to hear about more cemeteries I should visit. This poor blog hasn’t gotten as much attention lately as it deserves, because I’m finishing a novel. After that, it will be back to another cemetery book. In the meantime, please feel free to look around on the blog. Hope you find some inspiration here. — Loren

      Liked by 1 person

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