WHY DO YOU LIKE CEMETERIES? Are you a Taphophile?

Posted by Diane Kaylyn Neldon Brians on

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WHY DO YOU LIKE CEMETERIES? Are you a Taphophile?

You know you do. Have you realized yet how many people do? What amazes me is the many different reasons why people are drawn to them. What is the fascination, the intrigue?

First, what is a Taphophile?
taphophile. Noun. (plural taphophiles) A person who is interested in cemeteries, funerals and gravestones.”


Wikipedia writes of a taphophile a lover of cemeteries as a “Tombstone Tourist”.

Tombstone tourist (otherwise known as a "cemetery enthusiast", "cemetery tourist", "grave hunter", "graver", or "taphophile") describes an individual who has a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, epitaphs, gravestone rubbing, photography, art, and history of (famous) deaths. The term has been most notably used by author and biographer Scott Stanton as the title of his former website and book, The Tombstone Tourist: Musicians (2003), about the lives and gravesites of famous musicians.
Some cemetery tourists are particularly interested in the historical aspects of cemeteries or the historical relevance of their inhabitants. La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna, Austria carry a large array of famous inhabitants and their tombs, that make the cemeteries significant tourist destinations.
Genealogy tourists make considerable effort to search out cemeteries and their records, to verify grave records and ancestral burial locations.

So, why do you like cemeteries?

There are so many different reasons why people like cemeteries and there are so many people who do. Have you ever thought about it? Do friends and family think this is odd, or do they share this interest with you?
Do you love reading the epitaphs? They can be thought provoking, heart wrenching and loving. Getting a little glimpse into the person’s life, “Beloved father, Sweet Angel”. When they were born, when they died. You can learn so much from reading the tombstone. Did they have a family, children, parents, spouse? Were they in the service, an explorer an artist, a poet? Were they someone of status or wealth? Were they a part of the gold rush or the witch hunt?

 Guardian Angel bellefontaine cemetery st. louisbellefontaine cemetery st. louisCementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain


Are they your ancestors? Are you interested in where your ancestors are buried? To perhaps learn more about them, to continue your search of your family tree. To have a connection with your past. Maybe you like to visit the graves of the famous. Famous musicians, leaders of industry or countries, actors.


st genevieve missouri cemeterybellefontaine cemetery st. louis
st andrews scotland


Is it the beauty of cemeteries? The park like setting with ornate tombstones. The peace and serenity. The decaying tombstones of wood in a ghost town. Castles where kings are buried in ornate carved sarcophagus. Kings and Queens of a time long past. Remnants of yesteryear.
bellefontaine cemetery st. louis


sterling castle cemetery










Holyrood Abbey edinbugh scotland









No two cemeteries are the same. Each unique to the area and time. A cemetery tells a story. A story of a time, of a place and the people who lived and died there. There are cemeteries of faith and service, of wealth and poverty. There are ones above ground and mausoleums.

Salem           Salem
Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain


There are cemeteries that are well kept, some by loved ones. Some abandoned, of a town that was alive and thriving but no longer.

edinburgh scotland  elizabethtown new mexico

Is it the macabre. The fascination of death or the fear. Do you search for the lost spirits?
bellefontaine cemetery st. louis
Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain

Bellefontaine Cemetery St Louis Missouri

Is it the architecture that draws you? The beautiful carved tombstones and statues. The stained glass and wrought iron.

Bellefontaine Cemetery St Louis Missouri
Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain


What is it about cemeteries that are so fascinating to so many?

Why do I like cemeteries?

Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain

I have wondered this myself. Graveyards, coffins, skulls, why am I intrigued with them? The history with the cemetery and the area. How people celebrate life and death. There is such beauty. We have been to cemeteries that are so amazingly beautiful and some that are now only remains to a people that were once thriving that are now gone. Where there was once grand display of status has since been left to decay and rot. The forgotten. The architecture of these cities of the dead. The wrought iron and stain glass.

Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain
Rosslyn Chapelbellefontaine cemetery st. louis




Melrose Abbey


I like reading the epitaphs on the tombstones. After doing some research we have even used some of these on our own tombstones for our graveyard at Halloween.


Recently we have been fortunate to take some wonderful vacations to ancestral homes. While there we do like to find burial places of our ancestors. It is very hard to explain the feeling of walking somewhere that an ancestor once walked. To see where they are laid to rest. To know this person, good or bad, because of them I am here. To remember.

Poblet Monastery spain

The beauty, the architecture, the history, the connection all makes beautiful photo opportunities. Absolutely love cemetery photos. Kaylyn takes some amazing photos. Our home, in Albuquerque, had my favorite cemetery photos on the walls of the staircase. I sometimes questioned my choice of placement since we have fallen down these stairs.
Cementiri de Poblenou barcelona spain
bellefontaine cemetery st. louis


What ever the reason, cemeteries are a place of love ones now gone. Take some time to learn the history. Each era will have an influence on the tombstones. Symbols have meaning. Much time and thought go into the remembrance of a life that once was. Respect those that are gone and the place of remembrance.





I love cemeteries

So, does my daughter Kaylyn. The other half of The Wacky Wanderers.


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  • I love cemeteries – the older the better. Like most people, I am wonder about the life and death of the person listed on the grave marker or headstone. They make for such lovely photographs (especially sepia and black/white). There are several great youtube channels for any taphophile like myself. Thanks for posting all the pics from your travels… especially the beautiful cemetery pics!

    Denise H on
  • Enjoyed article. I’ve worked in a few cemeteries over the years. The beauty,history,human drama and peaceful moments draw me back tome and again. Paul

    Paul Dillow on
  • I know why I love cemeteries! Being raised in Southern Louisiana with All Saints Day traditions, I grew up in cemeteries. Giving our family tombs a good spruce up was a fun and heartfelt tradition. With a picnic lunch and visits with the other families, we keep those who have gone before us alive and well with our memories..

    Jan C. Marchchand on
  • I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one who loves cemeteries. I don’t personally know anyone who is resting in a grave, but I still feel embraced and loved everytime I visit a cemetery. I love the permanence and stillness. In my religion, we cremate the body, therefore I can only wish to visit an ancestor’s grave. Regardless, I do feel the connection though.

    Chandan Preet on
  • I love cemeteries and I spend a lot of time looking at the epitaphs and wondering about the people who are buried there. I just purchased my husband and my plot at a very historical cemetery in Athens and I am so thrilled. Is that weird?

    Jan Perry on

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