8 Cemeteries to See Before You….Er, I Mean, 8 Awesome Cemeteries

cassie in cemeteryI know, not everyone likes cemeteries–not even during Halloween week. I get some weird looks when I tell people that I really enjoy visiting and photographing cemeteries. But I promise you, it’s not really because I have some sort of penchant for the macabre. I’m not in it for the spooky. I find cemeteries to be places where we are surrounded by history and I appreciate how loved ones choose to honor their ancestors. I’ll also admit that I find many cemeteries to be beautiful. It’s hard not to when they’re placed in such idyllic locations. Over the past six or so years, I’ve made points to visit, picnic in, or even have a martini in some amazing cemeteries. It’s gotten to the point that my sister snaps photos of interesting ones for me when she travels. I’m not ashamed. If you are, let Halloween week be your excuse. Here are 8 of my favorites so far.

8. Notre-Dame-des-Neiges | Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Oh, my conversation partner and I laughed when we saw the cemetery listed as “one of the best places to pick up girls in Montreal.” How awful of them, I thought. Yeah, okay, I still think it’s pretty awful, but after walking through it and seeing the groups of friends picnicking or the runners running, I might believe. It’s beautiful and calm.

WTMTL T09 ZAC7606
Photo By Chris Zaccia, Jason McLean (Wikipedia Takes Montreal participant) (Uploaded from Wikipedia Takes Montreal) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Central Burying Ground, King’s Chapel, and Granary Burying Ground | Boston, USA

Okay, there are three of them. But this is where it all began for me. It wasn’t just one of these cemeteries that made an impression on me, it was all three of them equally. You’re surrounded by history in Boston, and the fact that cemeteries are history was really cemented for me on my visits to Boston.

boston cemetery

6. Oakland Cemetery | Atlanta, USA

During our trip to Atlanta, we actually dined across from the cemetery, not in it, and then took a stroll through it afterward. Had we picnicked, we wouldn’t have been alone. Beautiful place.

atlanta.cemetery

5. San Juan Cemetery | San Juan, Puerto Rico

Hanging out just on the edge of San Juan Cemetery along the old fort walls makes for a nice Puerto Rican coffee and mallorca break. Such a gorgeous setting.

Old San Juan cemetery 2

4. Recoleta Cemetery | Buenos Aires, Argentina

As the final resting place of Evita, Recoleta Cemetery sees its fair share of tourists. I’m often one of the only creepers history lovers around with a camera when in cemeteries, but definitely not in this case. It’s a beautiful cemetery and definitely deserves more than a beeline to the grave of its most-famous resident.

recoleta cemetery buenos aires

3. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 & 2 | New Orleans, USA

I went to New Orleans for a library conference, and therefore didn’t get the time I normally would have taken to explore more of the cemeteries in this city. Even still, I quite knew I was charmed.

Lafayette Cemetery #1 New Orleans

2. Maimara City Cemetery | Maimara, Argentina

The cemetery in Maimara was such a close contender for the number one spot. Even as this post goes up, I feel a tinge of guilt for putting it at number two. I mean, look at the painted rocks of the mountains behind the cemetery. Look at the cardón cacti spread throughout the cemetery. Just look. So cool. Go ahead, click on that photo to view it even larger.

maimara cemetery argentina quebrada de humahuaca

1. Bonaventure Cemetery | Savannah, Georgia, USA

And finally, Bonaventure. As much as I loved the Maimara Cemetery in Argentina, I just couldn’t bring myself to place anything above Bonaventure. Read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before you go. And then enjoy this beautiful view. Okay, this place might be a little spooky with all that hanging moss. But mostly beautiful.

savannah bonaventure cemetery dsc_0587-2

Happy, non-spooky Halloween week!

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Unless otherwise credited, all photos are my own and subject to copyright regulations.

Never Heard of the Quilmes Ruins? | Let’s Fix That

quilmes ruins

Once upon a time, I read a tiny little paragraph about a set of ruins in Argentina in a guide book. It sounded neat, but hard to get to. Since there were so many other things I was trying to squeeze into one week of traveling in northern Argentina, I decided we’d probably have to pass.

But it definitely wasn’t for lack of interest.

At the beginning of our seven-day trip, we found ourselves tagging along with two researchers from the lab where Jordan is studying/researching. We spent the morning working (they did, anyway), had our early afternoon meeting, and grabbed lunch. The lunch, it’s worth mentioning, was our first time having humitas in soup form. It’s crazy to see how many ways actual corn is put to use in cuisine. (I’m from the edge of the Corn Belt, and unless you count our corn syrup, it’s pretty much scalloped corn or corn on the cob–good, but not much variety).

humitas amiacha valle calchaquieAfter the late lunch, our guides/hosts asked if we had plans to visit the Quilmes Ruins. I explained we weren’t going to have a car rental until later on in the trip, so had decided to skip it. And like that, they decided to make a detour. (Well, technically, it wasn’t just like that. There have been some local disputes over the ruins, so we asked our waiter if they were open before deciding to go).

The Quilmes Ruins aren’t far from the town of Amiacha. I didn’t exactly know what to expect since I hadn’t seen photos–I had only read the blurb in the guide book which covers an entire continent. It’d lead you to believe that 50 percent of the things to see in Argentina are in Buenos Aires (sorry, Porteños, not quite the case).

The initial view of the ruins were must more arresting than I’d expected. From the entrance (it’s a 20 peso per person fee), you’ll head in for a brief tour/talk. After that, you’re able to climb some trails to the top for a better view and then explore on your own. Here’s the lowdown on what we learned while there.

What you see in the photos is estimated to be only ten percent of the indigenous city.

The Quilmes people spoke a language called Cacán, which no longer exists.

In the language Cacán, Quilmes meant between hills.

The people at Quilmes settled there roughly around 900 AD.

They worshiped Pacha Mama, or Mother Earth.

They stayed there even as the Incas spread into the region.

The community grew many crops, including choclo, potatoes, and other Andean varieties.

The Quilmes people resisted the Spanish until 1665.

The Spanish managed to cut off their water supply, which in turn meant no crops, either.

After the Spanish had “defeated” them, they forced the people to walk across the country to the province of Buenos Aires.

I not only was amazed when I saw the ruins, I was like a kid in a candy cactus shop. I geeked out big time over these things and asked our host plenty of questions. I’ve got enough cactus photos for oodles of posts. Don’t worry, I’ll be selective, friends.

I hope you enjoy our photos. I certainly enjoyed the stop. Thanks to our guides/drivers for taking us.

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To learn more about Quilmes, check out:

  • http://edant.clarin.com/diario/2008/03/10/sociedad/s-03405.htm
  • http://www.lanacion.com.ar/817528-lo-que-quedo-de-los-antiguos-quilmes

Both links are in Spanish, so if you’re Spanish is rusty, make use of Google Translate 🙂 It’s worth it, because the English Wikipedia link is just a stub.