It seems that many of Man’s important structures are erected to honor the dead. Tombs are often quite elaborate and special places because of the reverence which significant people inspire. Come with me on a journey around the world to see and discuss some of these magnificent final resting places. A photo album will follow.
1. Taj Mahal, Agra, India – Probably the most celebrated, most elaborate, and most beautiful tomb in the world is this incredible complex built by Shah Jahan for his beloved and favorite wife, Mumtaz. The materials and workmanship here is second to none and the tomb has become a symbol of undying love and affection.
2. Terra Cotta Army of Shi Huang Di, Xi’an, China – The first Qin Emperor built his own tomb and memorial which consists of a huge battle array of life-size terra cotta soldiers to protect him in the after-life. Discovered in the 1970’s this amazing army is one of the most important archaeological finds of recent history.
3. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt – The last-remaining of the orgiinal Seven Wonders of the World, these hugs burial chambers are over 5,000 years old and one of the world’s great treasures. The largest pyramid is the tomb of the Pharoah Khufu (or Cheops).
4. Ming Tombs, near Beijing, China – Ming Emperors were buried in this hilly location to the north of Beijing. Subsequent generations even constructed a Spirit Way (a walkway lined with sculptures) so that visitors could get into the correct frame of mind (a respectful calm) prior to reaching the tomb area.
5. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawai’i – The remains of this battleship, sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, as well as the sailors who perished on board, are preserved as a lasting tribute to their sacrifice on this Day of Infamy. A visit to the memorial is a haunting and somber experience.
6. Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland – This burial mound is considered to be even older than the pyramids, roughly the same age as Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain, west of London. It is known as a passage tomb because of the long passageway (over 60 feet) within which leads to a chamber.
7. Petra, Jordan – This necropolis, featured in the movie, Indian Jones, the Last Crusade, contains many burial chambers built into the surrounding limestone.
8. Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt – Another of the most famous necropolises of the world contains the remains of many of Egypt’s pharoahs, in particular, Tutankhamen. The nearby Valley of the Queens houses their equally famous wives.
9. Westminster Abbey, London, England – This structure was built as a church, and still is, especially for Royal ceremonies, but has become a notable tomb because of the many famous Brits who are interred here. Besides many of England’s monarchs, these include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer and many others.
10. Catacombs, Rome, Italy – These underground burial caves were used by Catholics in early centuries following the death of Christ, Jews, and others, probably because of overcrowding and a desire for secrecy. They are a treasure trove of early Art as well.
Other sites considered:
Catacombs of Paris, France
Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic
Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain
Capuchin Catacombs, Palermo, Italy
City of the Dead, Northern Ossetia, Russia
Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico
Douaumont Ossuary, Douaumont, France
Chapel of Bones, Evora, Portugal
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlinton, Virginia, USA
Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi, India