Poised between earth and heaven, the material and the spiritual, burial places are amongst the most important sites ever built.
Man is the only animal that knows it is going to die and since the dawn of civilization he has made provision for a last resting place that would ensure that his memory lived on. In this endeavour he has been remarkably successful. The grand tombs and mausoleums of long dead rulers have withstood the ravages of the centuries. Down at the level of the common man, cemeteries are amongst the built landscape's most immutable elements. They rarely change, except to add more occupants.
Great Burial Places explores twenty-two of the world's great burial precincts, from dynastic necropolises such as the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and the Ming Tombs in China to cemeteries such as Père Lachaise in Paris and the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna where the most famous people of their age share a last resting place with tens of thousands of their undistinguished fellow citizens.
For centuries, people have made pilgrimages to the tombs of kings and saints to venerate those who lie there. Today, a surprising number of people engage in tombstone tourism, as it is sometimes dismissively termed. Who goes to London without visiting Westminster Abbey, or to Paris without visiting Père Lachaise, or to Rome without visiting St. Peter's Basilica? There is something irresistible about visiting the last resting places of the famous, about standing in the presence of genius, about making contact, albeit indirect, with those who have left their mark on the world.
Great Burial Places will prove a delight to taphophiles as well as to general readers of enquiring mind who wish to explore some of the world's greatest architectural and cultural sites from a fresh perspective.