Cemetery tourism

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Jim Morrison's grave with flowers laid down

As Cemetery tourism is known more recently a kind of tourism in the cemeteries become a tourist destination. In a broader sense, it is a type of cultural tourism .


Originally there were pilgrimages to holy places and graves of saints, and the continued life or at least the proximity of the soul was assumed. Cemetery trips can be found in travel guides to the Roman catacombs as early as the 12th and 13th centuries. Visiting famous tombs became a general tradition. “Pilgrimage tourism was often the only form of tourist activity in poorer social circles.” Confirmation of this type of The surroundings of the grave and the historical surroundings conveyed an auraof the deceased. Perceiving the cultural and historical significance in the area can provide further experiences. In particular, visits to the cemetery or tours of the cemetery became part of cultural tourism or private destinations for travelers and interested parties. Such visits to the tombs of well-known poets such as Goethe became common, special mausoleums or historically significant tombs are pilgrimage or visit destinations. Visiting grave sites is not a new trend. Visiting the graves of deceased couples by visitors was already widespread in the Romantic era in the 19th century, as the example of Charlotte Stieglitz and Heinrich Wilhelm Stieglitz at the Sophienfriedhof in Berlin shows. In part, what is summed up under cemetery tourism today also flows together with cultural tourism. Examples are a visit to the pyramids or ancient tombs. This trend goes back to the 19th century, when it became possible for the "educated citizen" through better means of travel and in order to survive in society it was necessary to have been there.

Tourism destinations

Falco's grave in Vienna's central cemetery

“Cemeteries are used to bury the deceased and to cope with grief for the living. In addition, they are used as places of rest, relaxation and encounter. They are the city's cultural memory and at the same time have a special meaning for biodiversity and the city's climate. "

- Senate Department for Urban Development Berlin

Adoration of personalities

Deceased actors, politicians or musicians can no longer be experienced as “idols” by the next generation; their impact on the historical consciousness of future generations is retained. Burial sites are advertised as tourist attractions by municipalities or associations and trips are included in the program of tourism companies. Examples are the graves of Jim Morrison in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris or the grave of Elvis Presley , which fans visit. Such tombs are further travel destinations for tourism providers. The bond with the idol is actively cultivated, the care of Falco's grave in Vienna's central cemetery is part of cemetery tourism. Other well-known burial sites can be found in the list of burial sites of famous people . For example, 20,000 people take part in tours of the large Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg every year. The cemetery in Zakopane was part of trips to the Tatra Mountains and it is a tourist attraction, it is described in travel guides and is an advertisement for Zakopane in brochures. It changed from a burial place and place of remembrance to a tourist and symbolic place. Travel companies use cemeteries as targets, often park cemeteries or simply the quiet place with clean air. The cemeteries in Paris ( Père-Lachaise ), Vienna ( Central Cemetery ), London (“Highgate a must for“ Cemetery-Spotter ””) or Berlin ( Weissensee Jewish Cemetery , Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof ) are destinations for a journey and lead to an understanding of history. In Nuremberg there are graves of Albrecht Dürer , Hans Sachs and Veit Stoss , which at the Johannisfriedhof - called the rose cemetery because of the rose bushes - with historical sights are a tourist destination within the framework of cemetery tourism and a destination on the “Nuremberg Historical Mile”.

Common memory

For war veterans, the war graves of fallen comrades offer a goal on the one hand to remember and on the other hand to maintain tradition and overcome grief. The Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC with the resting place of over 300,000 dead on over 81 acres is frequently visited, often these are organized trips and tour groups. On the other hand, American war veterans visit the military cemeteries in Europe in tourist groups and are supported by special travel agencies. For comrades in war, visiting places of victims of war and tyranny, for example on Memorial Day, is a form of remembrance. A visit to the grave sites in Polish Silesia is an occasion for German resettlers to take a trip to their past homeland and to their survivors.

Side seats

Sometimes the graves are not the actual travel destination, but are visited as a local attraction or are included in the travel program. In Santa Clara, Cuba, you can visit Che Guevara as a statue in front of and as an idol of the Cuban revolution in his mausoleum . When visiting Leningrad, offers to visit the cemetery are included. On the other hand, Russian veterans come to the memorials in Berlin. A visit to Friedhofen is about getting in touch with the culture of the host country or location. Cemeteries are cultural assets from a historical and regional point of view, the occasion or reason for such visits can be of different types.

Figurative meaning

“It really does exist, the term: cemetery tourism. Price-conscious bargain hunters understand it to be a trip abroad, where one can be buried cheaper than here. ”In a“ modified ”and derogatory sense,“ cemetery tourism ”stands for actively taking urns or“ buried ”with you to new burial sites at the new settlement site. This increasing trend towards globality leads to frequent transfers . The focus here is not on the peace of the dead, but on the short distances to the cemetery at the new residence. Usually there is no restriction of burial places to a certain group of people in cemetery regulations. With this freedom of movement, the cemetery can be chosen according to criteria other than those of piety . Trips organized by undertakers or carried out by private persons for such a selection are also described with the term “cemetery tourism”. In a broader sense, the organized trip of the descendants with the funeral home to the crematorium can also be seen below. For this active form, Find A Grave and similar websites have been developed on the Internet . In addition to the “moving” of descendants with the urns of their ancestors, the drive to search for cheaper cemeteries is also covered by the keyword “cemetery tourism”.


  • Josef Walter König: The graves of the German-speaking poets and thinkers. A lexical guide. Corian-Verlag Wimmer, Meitingen 2000, ISBN 3-89048-316-X .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Slawoj Tanas: The cemetery as part of the geography of tourism . Magazine for Mourning Culture, May 2006.
  2. ^ Cemetery culture
  3. ^ Stadtgrün - cemeteries and burial places
  4. Hans Gasser: Attraction grave . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 20, 2010.
  5. cemetery tourism ? We introduce you to Andalusian cemeteries that you should definitely see . In: fuerte-hotels, October 22, 2013.
  6. ^ Marianne Schulz-Mercado: Flying visit to Karl Marx, Hans Moser or Effi Briest . In: Neues Deutschland , December 4, 2004
  7. ^ History of St. Johannisfriedhof
  8. Like the grave, like the life? . In: smavel - the travel journal, accessed May 4, 2020.
  9. Bernhard Marondel: All Saints, no cemetery tourism . Broadcasting work (cms.bistum-trier.de), November 1, 2008
  10. So it happens that in large places like Berlin, the deceased is "taken" to the neighboring district.
  11. Or that the search for the cheapest provider leads to a kind of “cemetery tourism”. In: New Funeral Act
  12. ^ Thomas Emons: Cemetery gardeners in Mülheim fear cemetery tourism after the fee increase . In: The West , October 10, 2011.