Cemeteries can be contemplative and peaceful spaces, built to serve both those underground and those who come to pay their respects. But some graveyards have gone far beyond their original purpose and become known for technicolor decorations, ornate hedges, miraculous tricks, and even vampire-hunting lore. From the creepy to the urbane, here are some of our favorite places of eternal rest across the world.

Sofi Hamid
Sofi Hamid AO User Eltaj

Sofi Hamid, Azerbaijan

Thirty miles from the capital city of Baku, hidden from the public eye, lies a mysterious place called Sofi Hamid. Built in the 18th century, the grave site was named after a Sufi who requested to be buried wherever his camel would rest. This isolated cemetery is home to a collection of colorfully painted tombs; annotated with Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic; and carved with images of sewing machines, guns, tractors, and more. Over time, the shrine has gained a sacral significance. People visit the tombs for good luck, with the hope that their wishes will come true.

Highgate Cemetery, England

Opened in 1839, Highgate is one of London’s most infamous cemeteries. It was once the site of grave robbing, desecration, dueling magicians, and mobs of stake-carrying vampire hunters. In various “hunts,” graves were ransacked and real corpses were indeed staked and beheaded. Today, the Victorian Gothic landmark is home to the final resting places of Karl Marx, sci-fi author Douglas Adams, and Adam Worth, a famous criminal and possible inspiration for Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

Pierre Loti Hill, Turkey

Pierre Loti Hill is a lovely tea garden that happens to be located inside one of Istanbul’s oldest and biggest graveyards. If sipping tea in a cemetery sounds a touch macabre, rest assured that the serene ambience is far from it. Visitors can take a cable car or a 15-minute walk through the graveyard to reach the top. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Along the way, you’ll see the graves of some of Istanbul’s most famous politicians, writers, scientists, and public figures. As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the aroma of freshly brewed tea, the sound of people chatting and laughing, and a spectacular view over the Golden Horn.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Stacy / CC BY S-A 2.0

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Away from the town center of Chichicastenango, on a hill that is rarely touched by tourists, one of the most colorful cemeteries in the world is hidden in plain sight. Steeped in Maya tradition, the vibrant rainbow of pigments celebrates the afterlife and can symbolize different family roles, like a color-coded clue to the puzzle of the dead. In a town where the majority of the population is Indigenous Maya K’iche, the cemetery is also the home to a variety of rituals on Day of the Dead, which involve incense, alcohol, and the occasional chicken as offerings.

Kubur Kassim, Singapore

Kubur Kassim graveyard dates back to the early 19th century and has served as a burial ground for generations of Muslims in Singapore. Situated in the neighborhood of Siglap, which translates to “dark one” in Malay, the cemetery has acquired a reputation for mysterious occurrences, including the appearances of supernatural beings such as the pocong (a shrouded ghost) and Pontianak (a vampiric female spirit). It has, fittingly, been the scene of at least one horror film.

Los Ángeles and La Cruz Graveyards, Aguascalientes, Mexico

Although the area may seem like one graveyard to new visitors, La Cruz and Los Ángeles are actually two burial grounds, barely divided by an old fence. Both sites feature a striking variety of artistic styles, including paintings, ironworks, and sculptures made from marble, as well as pink and yellow quarry stone. It’s easy to get lost in the corridors while searching for the most unique tombs, which have small metal plates describing the stories of the buried, including a mausoleum believed to be a source of miracles.

Tulcán Municipal Cemetery
Tulcán Municipal Cemetery Dave Lonsdale via Flickr

Tulcán Municipal Cemetery, Ecuador

​​This cemetery is home to a jaw-dropping topiary wonderland. In 1936, gardener Josè Maria Azael Franco, who worked as the caretaker of the municipal burial ground, began sculpting the rows of bushes into a variety of shapes and designs. There are your typical topiary arches and geometric shapes, but Franco also created a number of unique sculptures. The garden features angels, Inca symbols, and bulbous creatures squatting in a row.

Kopli Cemetery Park, Tallinn, Estonia

Kopli Cemetery Park is a lovely urban oasis hiding century-old graves. It was once an ornate cemetery for the Baltic German population of Tallinn, but Soviet forces occupied the area after World War II and removed all the memorial structures and gravestones. After the Soviet military abandoned the area, it slowly grew into a park, which today is lush and green, and even home to a playground.

Douce Mausoleum, England

Inspired by the colossal pyramids of Giza, this 15-foot structure is believed to be the first funerary pyramid in Great Britain. Interred in the mausoleum is Francis Douce, an eccentric 18th-century physician. Born in 1675, the surgeon became fixated to the point of obsession with his own death. At 75, he hired architect John Blake of Winchester to design his tomb. The mausoleum was carefully aligned along meridian lines and bears the Douce family crest and coat of arms, a tablet inscribed with his birth and death dates, and a flame carved of stone as a topper.

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery
Hartsdale Pet Cemetery

Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, New York

As the oldest operating pet cemetery in the United States, Hartsdale, which was originally called Hartsdale Canine Cemetery, has served both the elite who wanted to be sure their animals were memorialized in style, as well as regular people who just loved their pets. Now, over a century since it was founded in 1896, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has more than 80,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles, monkeys, horses, a lion, and even some humans buried on its five acres.