A mausoleum may seem like a grim attraction but as veteran globetrotters well know, there’s no place like a cemetery or burial landmark to spice up your trip. Even if you shun the mainstream practice of celebrity worship, lavish plots of the famous and infamous make for honest-to-goodness juicy tourist appeal.Here then, are the most famous mausoleums in the world.
1. Grant’s Tomb, New York City, U.S.A.
The gravesite of one of the most popular Presidents in the history of the United States overlooks the Hudson River in Manhattan from a perch in Riverside Park. Built in 1897, Ulysses S. Grant’s mausoleum is purported to be the largest in North America.
2. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam
The most iconic leader Vietnam has ever had has a rather iconic mausoleum to honor his memory in Hanoi. A model of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow’s Red Square, the popular landmark has a touch of irony, in that it remains an enduring violation of Ho Chi Minh’s wish to have his ashes scattered throughout his beloved Vietnam.
3. Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A.
A U.S. National Historic Landmark, Lincoln’s Tomb in the capital of his home state, is a rather beautiful marble sarcophagus within a prodigious stone chamber, with many wonderful details to explore. The burial site sits on 51,000 m2 of land in idyllic Springfield, Illinois.
4. Suharto Family Complex, Central Java, Indonesia
Known as Astana Giribangun, the mausoleum complex for the powerful Suharto family, a name familiar to anyone with even cursory knowledge of Indonesia, provides visitors to Central Java with yet another major attraction. In traditional island architecture, the mausoleum is near the Mangkunegaran Royal Cemetery complex.
5. Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines
A tremendous shrine to the second President of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon, within a national park in the city that bears his name, Quezon Memorial Circle took almost four decades to build before completion in 1979.
6. Tomb of Mausolus, Bodrum, Turkey
The tomb for the man who gave the world the term “mausoleum” was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, all that remains of the site in Bodrum, Turkey are stone ruins. Nonetheless, the once magnificent burial site for the former Persian Empire governor is still an inspiration to the present day.
7. Frogmore Estate, Berkshire, England
Adjacent to Windsor Castle in the county of Berkshire, just outside of London, Frogmore Estate contains two superb mausoleums. The grand Royal Mausoleum was made to intern Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, while the ornate Duchess of Kent mausoleum is the burial place of Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, mother of Queen Victoria. Both are architectural marvels.
8. Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China
Perhaps the most indelible landmark in China, other than the Great Wall perhaps, the location of the famous Terracotta Army is the underground mausoleum of record in the world. The spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site, though well over two millenia old, was incredibly only found in 1974 by several humble farmers.
9. Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy
Home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than most nations, the town of Ravenna in Italy is a major tourist destination. A slice of authentic Old Europe, Ravenna has a mausoleum that experts at UNESCO consider to be “artistically perfect”. Though the burial site in the shape of a Latin cross has three sarcophagi, the most famous contains Galla Placidia herself, Empress consort of Constantius III, Western Roman Emperor for a short time in 421 AD.
10. Tomb of Jahangir, Lahore, Pakistan
A remarkable burial complex for the popular Mughal Emperor of the early 17th century, the only words to describe this gorgeous Lahore landmark are “dramatic” and “grandiose”. A great reason to visit the notable Pakistani city.
11. Mausoleum of Khomeini, Tehran, Iran
Though the former Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini, was a rather incendiary figure in the West, his homegrown popularity was evident upon his death in 1989, when construction began on a massive mausoleum complex. The landmark is still not complete, with several additions left to the eventual 20 km2 memorial.
12. Anitkabir, Ankara, Turkey
The stately, serene burial site of Mustafa Kemal Atat?rk, founder and first president of the modern Republic of Turkey, is a rather visible landmark on the Ankara cityscape. The hero of Turkey’s War of Independence was such a transformative figure that his mausoleum consistently draws annual visitors well into the millions.
13. Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, Inner Mongolia, China
This entry warrants a rather large asterisk. As most people know, the remains of Genghis Khan have never been found, much to the dismay of the proud people of Mongolia. While the search will no doubt endure for decades to come, at least a fabulous mausoleum in the infamous warlord’s honour awaits him in Inner Mongolia.
14. Hamilton Mausoleum, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland
For years, members of the Dukes of Hamilton’s family have been laid to rest in a spectacular family crypt in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The mausoleum is so big in fact, that you can arrange to tour the interior. The most notable feature? The echo effect in the inner sanctum apparently, which is reported to last longer than in any other man-made structure on the planet.
15. Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi, Pakistan
The most famous and iconic landmark in the massive metropolis of Karachi is an architectural feat of epic proportions. The Mazar-e-Quaid, or National Mausoleum, was built throughout the decade of the 1960s and honours a beloved hero and founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
16. Mogiri, Java, Indonesia
The sprawl of the royal burial complex known as Imogiri in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia, is a sight to behold. The first graveyard site dates back to the 16th century, with subsequent rulers of central Java, up to the present day, spread out over several sections within the mausoleum complex.
17. Qianling Mausoleum, Qian Country, Shaanxi Province, China
More than a one hour’s drive outside of the ancient Silk Road city of X’ian, the Qianling Mausoleum provides the province of Shaanxi with yet another historic burial site. This time for the Tang Dynasty however, which dates the site to the late 7th century. With underground murals and numerous stone statues of exceptional quality, the mausoleum has yet to be fully excavated.
18. Lenin’s Tomb, Red Square, Moscow, Russia
While many chide the rather sober and austere simplicity of the granite mausoleum known as Lenin’s Tomb in Red Square, the structure is more than just a Soviet-era hunk of stone. The famous landmark actually borrows from Egyptian and Persian architecture and since 1924, has drawn millions to view the iconic communist revolutionary’s corpse.
19. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
While not a mausoleum in the traditional sense, like many on this list, the original intent of the Great Pyramid of Giza, in the estimation of many experts, was to intern royalty. Though the sarcophagi were empty upon discovery, the fact that the pyramid was a burial site is clear.
20. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
From Ancient Wonder to Modern Wonder, the Taj Mahal is simply the most famous mausoleum in the world, without one iota of doubt. The spectacular complex is a world treasure and masterpiece of architecture that has no peer. Exactly what the 17th century Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had in mind when he had the Taj built as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.