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Père-Lachaise vs. Recoleta

THIS versus THAT: Cemetery Showdown

Some may find it strange to visit a cemetery while on vacation.  However, cemeteries can often times help convey centuries of history, literature, politics and art.  In particular, Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires are two fantastic examples of cemeteries that are attractions in themselves. The tragic stories, beauty and solemn peace found amongst the tombstones is simply to die for!


Situated in the 20th Arrondisement of Paris, the Père-Lachaise Cemetery is a veritable who’s who of French and international writers, musicians, politicians and the wealthy elite.  Built in 1802 and stretching across 110 acres of north-eastern Paris, the cemetery was actually not a very popular with many Parisians who preferred to buried closer to the city center.  All that changed in 1804 when Molière and La Fontaine’s remains were transferred here, giving the grounds much needed prestige.  Previously, Moliere’s remains had rested in a cemetery that was reserved for unbaptized babies due to the fact that at the time of his death, actors were not given proper burials.  Molière’s move to Père-Lachaise over 125 years after his death definitely cemented his position amongst France’s literary heroes.  Over the next 200 years the cemetery became the final resting place for many of France’s beloved artists, including Chopin, Balzac, Pissaro, Edith Piaf, Proust and Yves Montand. Interestingly enough, two of the most visited graves at Père-Lachaise do not belong to Frenchmen, but rather an American and a Brit. Jim Morrison’s grave is by far one of the most visited graves in the cemetery. . . and it is also the one that attracts the most graffiti and vandalism.

Photo courtesy of Liz Gancher

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