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A cemetery is any place with graves, tombs and memorials. The range of types and appearances is vast, from extensive mausolea with huge architectural elabrations, to unmarked plots of ground with hardly a sign it is a resting place.
In some cases royal memorials and tombs may be the central point of vast grounds that might not always be known as a cemetery as such.
Such sites are extensively visited for a wide range of reasons, depending on the local or national culture, they might be pilgrimage sites as well.


Some countries have extensive pilgrimage systems. Cemeteries and the tombs of special people within a religious or national context are connected with others. Sometimes the networks are well mapped and signed, others more mysterious and less obvious.
To complicate the issue, some areas and places have very different ideas about pilgrimage, and deny the veracity of the process. People can be told 'no there is no special grave here', or even directed to not consider graves or tombs to be suitable to visit at all.
The important part of becoming involved in pilgrimage is to research first. To make sure the cemetery or tomb is an acceptable place to visit and that there are no prohibitions.
Some grave complexes have elaborate procedures for visitors to comply with, with restrictions on visiting times, and clothing. In some countries, where heirarchical social and political strictures exist, some graves can even be off limits, or distanced from public access.

Walls and structures

Some cemeteries in built up areas have massive walls and fences for protection from vandalism. The walls and the surrounding structures can say more about the history of the location than the actual tombs.
In earlier times the walls and structures surrounding may have been built in relation to beliefs about things leaving the cemetery, as much as entering.
The leave-no-trace principle is the same as for archaeological sites. The legal consequences for trespassing in restricted areas, damaging graves, or souveniring artifacts from graves, might be harsh. Respect the laws and regulations of local authorities.


Some cultures have very distinct beliefs about how or how not to visit graves, and it is well worth checking out acceptable practices.
For instance some places have strict rules on not walking over or touching a grave or its coverings.
Some places also have specified clothing types for people entering, in most cases pieces of clothing are available to hire at entries, or items considered not suitable can be kept at the entrances.

Information and genealogy

Some cemeteries have custodians or caretakers who have information about the place or know where information can be found.
Some cemeteries have museums, organised tours and guidebooks for tourists to find the graves of famous and significant people.
Many older cemeteries and grave sites that are archaeological sites as well.
Due to the pressures of genealogical enthusiasms some cemeteries are able to provide burial lists and details.
However, weathering of gravestones or headstones can wash away all information, and for some places, the site is so old, there are simply no people or publications available about the deceased buried there.


Famous cemeteries

See also