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Story Map: Great Graveyards Around the World

GIS mapping giant Esri recently published a map story of the world’s 15 most famous and memorable cities of the dead. In this blog, we have taken the top ten satellite imagery maps of the world’s most famous cemetries.

1Wadi al-Salaam

Photo credits: Esri

Wadi al-Salaam is the largest cemetery in the world. Nearly 5 million bodies are entombed in the cemetery’s 1,485 acres. The cemetery is located near a prominent Shia shrine.

Shia Muslims in Iraq and, increasingly, from around the world, seek to be interred here because of its association with Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, who many believe will raise them from the dead on Judgment Day.

2Mount Auburn Cemetery, USA

Photo credits: Esri

The final resting place of more than 93,000 people, Mount Auburn influenced the design of many cemeteries that followed it. Its rural, park-like design reflected an evolving view of death in the early nineteenth century as a peaceful, eternal sleep. It is well-known as an arboretum, and features some 700 varieties of trees.

Among the many prominent people buried here are McGeorge Bundy, Felix Frankfurter, Buckminster Fuller, Winslow Homer, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

3Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Photo credits: Esri

Founded in 1899, this graveyard is the resting place of many Hollywood notables. Immediately to its south are Paramount Studios, which occupy land that formerly belonged to the cemetery. Hollywood Forever hosts musical events and outdoor movie screenings.

Burials include voice-over artist Mel Blanc, Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Janet Gaynor, George Harrison, John Huston, Peter Lorre, Tyrone Power, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Rudolph Valentino, and Fay Wray.

4Colma, California, USA

Photo credits: Esri

The informal motto of this small city just south of San Francisco is, “It’s great to be alive in Colma.” The reason: for every one of its 1,800 or so residents, there are at least 1,000 dead people.

Colma’s concentration of cemeteries is the result of a 1900 San Francisco ordinance banning the establishment of new cemeteries with in its city limits, and a later ordinance expelling existing graveyards.

William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper tycoon, is buried in Colma’s Cypress Lawn Memorial Park.

5Common Burying Ground

Photo credits: Esri

The Common Burying Ground was established in 1640. It and the nearby Island Cemetery include perhaps the largest number of colonial-era headstones of any U.S. cemetery.

6Calvary Cemetery

Photo credits: Esri

One of the oldest cemeteries in the U.S., this Roman Catholic cemetery also has the largest number of burials: 3 million. It has appeared in films, including The Godfather and Zoolander.

7Montmartre Cemetery

The Montmartre Cemetery opened in 1825 on the site of a former gypsum quarry. The location had been used for mass burials during the French Revolution. Among the notables entombed here are Hector Berlioz, Edgar Degas, Vaslav Nijinksy, François Truffaut, and Émile Zola.

8Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photo credits: Esri

Eva Perón is among the notables interred among the 4,691 vaults in this graveyard, considered by some as among the most beautiful in the world.

9Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg, Germany

Photo credits: Esri

The fourth largest cemetery in the world, Ohlsdorf has 1.5 million burials. It doubles as a recreational site for Hamburg residents, and is served by 25 bus stops.

10Mallows Bay, Nanjemoy, Maryland, USA

Photo credits: Esri

The remnants of more than 230 ships reside in this inlet of the tidal Potomac River. Many were merchant vessels built during World War I to haul materiel across the Atlantic. They were poorly built, and the obsolete ships were scuttled and burned in 1925. The site is now a park operated by Charles County, Maryland.