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The world’s most visited gravesites

Posted on 13 November 2018

We may not like talking about death, but we do like to visit it. Some of the world’s most visited tourist attractions commemorate the dead – and even the simplest graves have become popular destinations. Here’s a selection of the most famous gravesites on the planet…

Death is a fact of life for us all. But even though it’ll come to all of us eventually, it’s a topic that most of us avoid thinking about.

Take a step back, though, and you might be surprised where you find ‘death’ lurking. In fact, some of the world’s most visited tourist attractions commemorate the dead. Even simple graves have become popular destinations because of the people buried there.

Here are some of the best.

The Great Pyramid, Egypt

The Great Pyramid, Egypt

Located on the west bank of the River Nile, The Great Pyramid is the oldest and tallest of the three pyramids of Giza – it was built around 4,500 years ago (around 2550 BC) and measures a whopping 147 metres. This is the only surviving structure from the famed seven wonders of the ancient world.

People from all over the world are drawn to this spectacular structure. But many don’t realise that this is also the place where Pharaoh Khufu was mummified to ensure immortality after death. He was also buried with everything he would need in the afterlife.

The Taj Mahal, India

The Taj Mahal, India

You’ve probably heard of the Taj Mahal in Agra – but did you know that it houses the tombs of Emperor Shah Janah and Mumtaz Mahal (his favourite wife)? It may look like a grand palace, but one of India’s most iconic sights is actually a mausoleum. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and receives around eight million visitors a year.

This magnificent building was made by 20,000 stone carvers, masons and artists between 1631 and 1648. It sits on a raised platform amidst gardens that align with the rising and setting sun during the summer and winter solstices.

The Terracotta Army, China

The Terracotta Army, China

The Terracotta Army is a collection of life-sized warriors, chariots and horses, which were designed to protect the tomb of the First Qin Emperor (the first emperor of China) in the afterlife. The 8,000-strong army dates from between 246–206 BC and is part of a vast mausoleum complex spread over multiple kilometres.

It was only discovered in 1974 and is recognised as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century.

Westminster Abbey, UK

Westminster Abbey, London

London’s Westminster Abbey has been the scene of every Royal coronation in English history since 1066 – not to mention 16 Royal weddings. But what’s less well known is that this is also the final resting place for 3,300 people.

The illustrious dead buried here include Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry V, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Stephen Hawking.

Celebrity graves

Now we’ve seen some of the world’s most magnificent gravesites, let’s take a look at humbler graves. Here are several celebrities whose graves draw thousands of curious tourists and adoring fans each year.

Jim Morrison

Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris

The Doors’ front-man is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. A host of famous names are buried there, including Oscar Wilde and Frédéric Chopin, but Jim Morrison’s grave is one of the most visited.

If you ever decide to go there yourself, don’t be surprised to see graffiti – fans of the iconic artist have been known to add arrows to nearby tombstones, pointing the way towards ‘Jim’.

Elvis Presley

Another rock ’n’ roll legend whose grave is visited by hundreds of thousands of fans on a yearly basis is Elvis Presley. Originally buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, Memphis, Elvis was moved to his former mansion, Graceland, and his grave now forms part of the Graceland tour. Around 600,000 people visit ‘The King’s’ final resting place each year.

Karl Marx

One of modern history’s most influential thinkers and philosophers, Karl Marx is buried in Highgate Cemetery, North London. Originally opened in 1839 by a private company, the cemetery is now under the ownership of a charity, The Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust.

Free to visit, it is a living history of Victorian London, with obelisks, catacombs, mausoleums and vaults scattered over 37 acres of overgrown woodland.

Eva Perón, aka Evita

Eva Perón, nicknamed Evita, is an Argentinian icon. She was the First Lady of Argentina between 1946 and 1952 (when she passed away), and she used her position to fight for women’s suffrage and improve the lives of the poor in her country.

She became a legendary figure in Argentine politics. Her grave is in Buenos Aires' Recoleta cemetery, where she lies in a heavily fortified crypt surrounded by an eerie, labyrinthine city of the dead.

William Shakespeare

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare was buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. His tombstone carries no name, just a ‘curse’ that says: “Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

However, archaeologists believe that Shakespeare’s remains aren’t all there – allegedly, grave-robbers stole Shakespeare’s skull in the 18th century.

Are you planning ahead?

Whether one of the greatest monuments ever built or a simple burial plot, signs of death play an important role in cultures all over the world, past and present. They remind us how precious life is, and they encourage us to think about our own death.

Here at SunLife, we believe we should talk openly about death and make plans in advance. That’s why we created My Perfect Send-Off, a tool that will help you think about and record your funeral wishes – so your loved ones know exactly what you want when the time comes.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). 

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.