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Cemeteries: Travel’s Buried Treasures

Museums and monuments? Check. Beaches and boutique shops? Wouldn’t miss ’em. But there’s one unique type of sight you might be skipping in your travels.

In 35 Travel Tips Revealed: Top Secrets of Travel Writers, Stephanie Yoder writes, “It sounds morbid, but one of the most interesting (and usually free) ways to learn about a city is to explore its cemeteries. These spaces are often beautiful and can offer insights into the history, architecture, art and religious beliefs of a city. Major cemeteries are usually full of elaborate monuments, interesting folklore and even celebrities (their headstones at least). Despite being such treasure troves, cemeteries are rarely crowded and make a nice escape from the urban jungle.”

There are certain cities where cemeteries and gravesites are practically a must-visit, such as Recoleta in Buenos Aires (where Eva Peron is buried) and Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington D.C. And in Boston, the Freedom Trail winds past several cemeteries, including the Granary Burying Ground — the final resting place of Paul Revere, John Hancock and Samuel Adams.

But the world’s lesser-known cemeteries are worth a wander as well. I still remember the wistful atmosphere of one quiet churchyard in rural Ireland, surrounded by nothing but rolling green hills. As I traced the names and dates on its crumbling tombstones, it was nearly impossible not to feel the weight of history.

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