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Top 9 Famous Graves to Visit Before You’re Buried 

These celebrity burial sites give a new meaning to life after death. 

When a famous celebrity dies, the world mourns the loss–sometimes with seemingly more fervor than with the loss of a family member. To help families of the icons and the public who loved them cope, celebrities often get a memorable grave site to rest for eternity. Because these figures often have a flair for the dramatic in life, their graves tend to reflect that theatrical personality. From understated plaques, to bronze sculptures, to being buried with a bottle of whiskey and cigarettes, these are some of the most famous graves in recent history.  

1.  Jules Verne

Madeleine Cemetery, Saint-Maurice, Amiens, France

The so-called father of science fiction, Jules Verne wrote juggernauts of the genre like Around the World in Eighty Days and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. His grave (pictured above) is just as badass as the author was in life. With a very lifelike sculpture of Verne emerging from his tomb and reaching toward the sky, this is not a grave to be missed. The sculpture was completed by Albert Roze two years after the author’s death–Roze even used a plaster mask of Verne’s face to make the sculpture just right. Creepy? Perhaps. But it’s dramatic, gorgeous, and memorable, also known as everything we want in a grave site.

2. Elvis Presley

Graceland, 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While his body now rests in Graceland, the King’s first gravesite was in the Forest Hills Cemetery of Memphis, Tennessee. Because so many fans tampered with his grave, it was decided that his body should be moved to a more private place. Viewing Elvis Presley’s grave is included when you visit his former estate, but you’ll have to compete with the 600,000 yearly visitors. He’s the King, even in death–and more than four decades later, people are still clamoring to catch a glimpse. 

3. Tupac Shakur

Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, 5616 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain, Georgia

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation

Despite rumors to the contrary, we are fairly sure that rapper Tupac Shakur is in fact deceased and buried in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He died in a 1997 shooting in Las Vegas. The world mourned his loss so strongly that many, to this day, refuse to believe that the 90s icon is dead and gone. His burial site is built for a king, including a bronze statue in his likeness, at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts Peace Garden. The bronze statue is surrounded by a pool of water and has a plaque that reads: “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”

4. Marilyn Monroe

Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, 1218 Glendon Avenue, Los Angeles, California

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Despite her best efforts, Marilyn Monroe is known as a sex and fashion icon. The intelligent and troubled woman had far more to offer than her looks–perhaps her plain grave site was a refusal to be remembered lightly in death. After her untimely death in 1962 at the age of only 36, Monroe was buried in Los Angeles near UCLA with a simplistic and minimal marker. Carrying only her name, Monroe’s crypt is still incredibly famous, and the surrounding graves have been auctioned off on eBay to the people that wish to reside next to Marilyn after death. After such a tumultuous life, Monroe’s simple grave site might symbolize exactly the kind of peace she desired in life. 

5. Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly Place, Clear Lake, Iowa

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

No, this isn’t technically Rock ‘n’ Roller Buddy Holly’s grave site, but it is the tragic place where his plane crashed around Clear Lake Iowa. To commemorate the passing of the musical pioneer, a marker was placed at the cornfield crash site. Holly’s famous glasses are replicated in a big way, looking across the field where the musician met his tragic fate. His actual grave is in his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. 

6. Princess Diana

Althorp House, Northampton, England

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: nic_pepsi / Flickr

Lady Diana was killed in a Paris car crash in 1997, and the world has never stopped mourning for her. As an cultural icon and a former member of England’s royal family, her grave site would be extremely popular… if you could actually visit. Far from the public eye, Diana is buried on a private island in a lake called Round Oval. By keeping her grave site hidden, her sons are able to visit their mother in peace. If you wish to pay your respects to Lady Di, a pubic shrine at Althrop House (pictured above) is open to visitors between July and September. Many also lay flowers at Kensington House, the former residence of Princess Diana and current residence of both of her children, on the day of her death.

7. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Green-Wood Cemetery, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, New York

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: WIkimedia Commons

In life, Jean-Michel Basquiat created art with bright colors, primitive figures, cryptic symbols, and a controlled balance between wild and order. A protege of Andy Warhol and a lifelong New Yorker, Basquiat was laid to rest in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery after his heroin overdose in 1988. His headstone includes only the word “Artist” underneath his name. The former graffiti artist’s grave attracts art lovers and admirers to this day. While the resting place is simpler than the vibrant artist, his fans make sure to adorn it with pieces of art and bits of poetry to honor his lost genius.

8. Frank Sinatra

Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

With the dramatic last words of “I’m losing it” when he died in 1998 of a heart attack, it’s no wonder that Frank Sinatra’s grave site is just as high energy as he was in life. Though Sinatra was born in New Jersey, he chose to be buried in Palm Springs, California, where his heart really belonged. His grave marker reads “The Best is Yet to Come”, and he was buried with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of cigarettes in his coffin. Whatever the best yet to come is, Sinatra was prepared.

9. Jim Morrison


Père Lachaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, Paris, France

famous graves
  • Photo Credit: Stanze / Flickr

It’s one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, with big names like Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, and Victor Hugo, but the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is home to one resident that draws particularly large crowds. That would be American rock legend, Jim Morrison, frontman of The Doors. Morrison died in Paris at age 27 of heart failure associated with drug use; since he was laid to rest, his grave site has been incredibly popular with fans, tourists, and vagrants. After several grave markers, his father requested for this Greek inscription to be placed above his son’s body: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ. The phrase is meant to say “faithful to his own spirit”, but it actually translates to “according to his own demon”.

Featured photo: Angélique Hayne / Flickr (CC) 

Published on 05 Feb 2015

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