Famous cemeteries

20th May 2005 at 01:00
As well as burial places, cemeteries can serve as parks for rest and contemplation and as wildlife preserves. Here are three of historical interest.

Novodevichy, Moscow The Novodevichy ("New Maidens") Convent was founded in 1542 in southern Moscow. The convent and its cemeteries (one within the walls; the other outside) are a monument to Russian history. The new cemetery, in particular, contains the graves of many important cultural and political figures, including Anton Chekhov, Dmitri Shostakovich and Nikita Khrushchev.

Pere Lachaise, Paris Opened as a cemetery in 1804, it is now the resting place of many famous people, including the medieval lovers Heloise and Abelard, whose graves were moved there in order to popularise the site, Oscar Wilde (who has an extravagant tomb) and The Doors' singer, Jim Morrison. It was the scene of violent battles during the Paris Commune of 1871.

Brookwood Cemetery This cemetery, near Woking, Surrey, was set up in 1852 to serve London. For nearly a century, it was reached by trains which went to a private station, with different halts for Anglican and Nonconformist coffins, and different classes of carriage, according to social status. The cemetery, still privately owned, covers 2,000 acres and is the largest in Britain. It has special sections for different faiths, including Muslims, Zoroastrians and Jews, as well as for various Christian denominations, war graves and national plots. Guided walks are arranged around what is now both a historical site and a pleasant expanse of woodland.

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