What is it like to visit a celebrity cemetery?

  After that, I started a trip across Europe and the United States celebrity cemetery.
New York State’s Inaccessible Cemetery

  I just got off the train at Valhalla Town Station, and the sky was drizzling with drizzle, which brought out the atmosphere of worship very well. The drizzle, the fog, the cold and damp, are not suitable for worship? It’s really “beautiful in the sky”.
  From the station to the cemetery, I followed Google Maps all the way up the mountain. Occasionally there are vehicles on the road, but no pedestrians. I figured in my heart that no one would choose the first day of the new year to worship the deceased, right?
  Entering the Kensico Cemetery (Kensico Cemetery), which began in the 19th century, the fog gradually thickened, making it difficult to see the way up the mountain. Looking at the house on the opposite hill from the cemetery, there is a visible mist floating between the dead trees and the hut in the middle of winter.
  In the cemetery here, mausoleums have different styles. Some are built as miniature Greco-Roman palaces, some are simply engraved tombstones, or accompanied by crosses and statues of gods.
  The distribution of tombstones is like a chessboard, and they are visible in the thick fog. The scene at this time is not much different from the cover of the classic horror movie “Silent Hill”.
  However, I was walking among the misty tombstones with an umbrella. Not only did I have no fear, but I felt calm and respectful. Occasionally, when the mobile phone signal is weak, which leads to navigation deviation and disorientation, I also patiently wait for the signal to stabilize, and then follow the trail.
  Kenswick Cemetery in New York State in the middle of winter is inaccessible. This kind of place is definitely “taboo” in the concept of oriental people, it is “heavy yin” and “don’t approach strangers”. For fear of being reprimanded, I still dare not tell my deeply superstitious mother that I once went to a cemetery outside New York on a drizzly New Year’s day to worship my favorite composer.
  In fact, before the municipal park appeared, it was very common for Europeans to visit the cemetery.

Cemetery of Russian musician Rachmaninoff
“Neighborhood” musicians

  Searching for Rachmaninoff’s tomb in suburban New York was just the first stop on my “cemetery tour”. After that, I crossed the ocean to the other side of the Atlantic – Europe.

  Before the existence of municipal parks, it was common for Europeans to visit cemeteries.

  The Vienna Central Cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) in late spring and early summer is another scene. Although the sky is cloudy, it is not an exaggeration to use “popularity” to describe the Vienna Central Cemetery.
  Rachmaninoff escaped to the United States to settle before the violent Russian revolution, but was buried alone in a foreign land outside New York. In this respect, the musicians in Vienna are much more fortunate to be able to “neighbor each other” in the central cemetery after their death.
  In the second half of the 19th century, the industrialization of Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, brought about a surge in the urban population, and at that time the public cemetery was no longer enough to accommodate the number of dead. Therefore, in 1863, the municipal government decided to set up a new large-scale cemetery, and a large piece of land on the outskirts of the city was designated as cemetery land.
  However, the location of the cemetery far from the city center has been criticized and people are reluctant to bury their dead so far away. The city government has therefore racked its brains to find ways to make the cemetery more attractive.
  One of the ways is to set up a so-called “honorary cemetery”, to move the deceased celebrity cemetery to the central cemetery for burial or to set up a monument. Tourists visit and develop the Central Cemetery into a tourist attraction.
  There are more than 1,000 “honorary burials” in the Vienna Central Cemetery. Celebrities buried here are household names in Vienna and even Austria, and have made great contributions in the fields of music, poetry, economy, architecture, painting, performing arts, politics and even sports. For example, the Austrian Federal Presidential Cemetery, which has been established since 1945, is a newly planned cemetery area.
  In Vienna, the “capital of music”, there is no shortage of musicians’ graves in the central cemetery. As an honorary cemetery, the tombstones of the musicians who are “neighbors” in the cemetery today were also moved from elsewhere. The tombs of Beethoven and Schubert were moved here in 1888. Not only that, Brahms, Salieri, the Strauss family and Schoenberg were not buried in the central cemetery from the beginning.

Vienna Central Cemetery, Mozart’s “tombstone” is located in the center of the entrance to the musician’s burial area, with Beethoven and Schubert’s tombstones on the left and right

  Mozart’s “tombstone” is the most conspicuous, located in the center of the entrance to the musician’s burial area, but Mozart is buried in the St. Marks Cemetery, which is closer to the city. After Mozart’s death, no one was even sure where he was buried. It wasn’t until 1855 that someone erected a tombstone in the area where he might be buried, and then the tombstone was moved to the musician’s burial area in the Central Cemetery.
  The establishment of the “honor tombstone” has at least achieved the purpose of attracting tourists. Tourists from all over the world visit the Vienna Central Cemetery in an endless stream. There are a number of flower shops at the door, where visitors can buy flowers and offer flowers to the musicians and other “honored people” in Austria.
Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

  It is not the first time that the municipality of Vienna has used the propaganda method of “honorary tombstones” to improve the cemetery’s reputation.
  The Père Lachaise Cemetery in the 20th arrondissement east of Paris began in 1804 and is older than the Vienna Central Cemetery.
  Before the cemetery, all burials went through the church. The deceased are mainly buried in the city’s church or adjacent church cemetery. The wealthy are buried mainly in churches, while most of the people are buried in church cemeteries.
  The population of Paris and other French cities reached new highs in the early 18th century. As more and more people passed away, the churchyard became more and more crowded. The smell of decaying and deteriorating remains and the unsanitary environment pose serious health risks. People who went to church to attend services felt extremely uncomfortable.
  In 1765, after years of research and discussion, the Paris City Council announced that it would prohibit the burial of the deceased’s remains in the city’s churches, requiring the remains to be buried outside the urban area.

  At the same time, under the influence of the French Enlightenment, the burial not only has religious significance, but also incorporates secular commemoration and remembrance. People’s concept of “life and death” has also changed, no longer emphasizing the decay of physical remains, but commemorating, cherishing, and thinking about the achievements of the deceased’s life.
  After the French Revolution, as more and more monuments were erected in parks and gardens, ordinary people embraced these new ideas about bodies and burials. The Père Lachaise Cemetery, founded in 1804, realized people’s yearning for a “resting place” and became an important node in the development of urban garden-style cemeteries.
  Napoleon, Emperor of the French Empire, declared: “Every citizen, regardless of race or creed, has the right to be buried.” The city government of Paris had to open new cemeteries on the outskirts.
  When the Père Lachaise Cemetery was first opened, few people were buried here due to its remote location. The Paris city government organized a large-scale ceremony to bury the remains of the allegorical poet Jean de La Fontaine and the playwright Molière here. As a result, the cemetery became famous.
  In order to be buried with famous people, people scramble to bury their dead family members here. In less than 30 years, the number of graves in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery has grown from 13 to 33,000. Today Lachaise Cemetery has 1 million burials, not counting the number of wall burials.

  Today Lachaise Cemetery has 1 million burials, not counting the number of wall burials.

  At the same time, the existing garden landscape also provides space for the planting and growth of plants in the garden. The cemetery was only favored by the wealthy at first, but later there were more and more tombstones in the park. With the expansion of the urban area of ​​Paris, the cemetery is now located in the urban area of ​​Paris, and the urban environment surrounding the cemetery complements the tranquil atmosphere of the cemetery.
Cemetery is a tourist attraction

  Compared with the bleak winter in New York and the hazy late spring in Vienna, the early summer in Paris is bright and sunny.
  I traversed the paths that divided the different areas of the Père Lachaise Cemetery, exploring the tomb of the Polish musician Chopin.
  The tombstone is surrounded by a low iron fence, on which stands a statue of a woman leaning over and playing the piano. The melancholy expression seems to fit Chopin’s works; the tomb is engraved with a relief sculpture of Chopin’s profile. Leaving swaying shadows.
  There are still blooming bouquets placed in front of the tomb, and there are waves of tourists who come to pay their respects. In such a peaceful and serene atmosphere, the meaning of “cemetery” seems to be more prominent as a “garden” for people to take a leisurely walk, and people no longer smell “cemetery” and “death”.
  The development of European cemeteries also had a profound impact on the United States. Keith Egner, an American scholar who studies American cemetery culture, once said in an interview:
  ”After 1830, more and more cemeteries were designed with winding and rugged paths and picturesque scenery. The idea is to let people After walking through the gate of the cemetery, leaving the world of mundane commercialization behind, entering the space for meditation, being able to have a dialogue with the soul… You know, in the big American cities, the era of cemetery was not yet leisure parks, museums or botanical gardens The appearance of the cemetery allows people to have a large leisure space, where they can immerse themselves and appreciate the exquisite sculptures and garden art.”
  My cemetery trip will continue from the first day of 2022 to the early summer. From the suburbs of New York to the European metropolis of Paris, I have a new perspective and experience of life and death.