Cemeteries have long ceased to be merely places of mourning for the relatives of the deceased; they have transformed into museums, parks, and tourist attractions. Today, by immortalizing in granite, we leave a memory of people and the era in which they lived, loved, and created

From boulders to works of art

It is worth noting that the first prototypes of gravestones appeared back in the Stone Age. The graves of the deceased were covered with boulders to prevent animals from digging them up. But then, stones began to be used to construct mounds, tombs, pyramids, and entire burial cities. During the times of Ancient Greece and Rome, gravestones appeared, and wealthy citizens began to commission sculptures of the deceased in full stature.

In the Middle Ages, with the spread of Christianity, crosses made of wood or granite began to be erected on graves. It was also during this time that the first gravestone slabs appeared, usually very simple.

By the late 18th and early 19th centuries, gravestones began to be adorned with sculptures, mourning figures, and animals. To this day, the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa has preserved these sculptures.

And now, in almost any country in the world, there exist cemetery-museums where famous artists, scientists, politicians, rulers, and representatives of various classes are buried. And the stone monuments erected on their graves constitute a separate form of art.

Photo by: West Memorials

Granite Memory: Modern Gravestones

Today, those wishing to immortalize memory craft gravestones of various shapes and from a wide range of materials. The choice is enormous. Monuments are made of metal, polymer granite, marble chips, marble, and granite.

Each material has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, metal monuments are lightweight, but they need to be painted several times a year.

Polymer granite is also lightweight and does not require the installation of a massive concrete base, but it fades and deforms over time.

Marble chips consist of granite granules mixed with concrete. It does not fade in the sun and is not afraid of heat, cold, or moisture. But if there are mistakes in the manufacturing process, it quickly deteriorates.

Marble monuments look presentable and are durable. However, they require very careful handling during processing and require careful maintenance as they quickly become dirty.

But most often, granite is preferred for making monuments. “Granite products are the most durable and long-lasting. This material is resistant to moisture, frost, heat, and ultraviolet radiation. However, they are heavy. Therefore, for installation, a reinforced foundation should be arranged, and one should wait until the ground settles completely.

It is also worth adding to the advantages of this material that there are many shades of granite, differing in color and size of inclusions. Different textures can be combined in a gravestone – mirror-polished stone and relief surface, contrasting colors – combinations of red with white or black, classic black and white or gray with white variations. Subtle transitions of shades of one color are more delicate and lyrical. Engraving looks good on it, sometimes letters are painted, often with golden paint. Sometimes even with gold leaf,” says Ilgar Hajiiev, founder of the company “ “Remembrance Headstone”.

Famous American Cemeteries

Photo by: See Sight Tours

Bonaventure, Savannah, Georgia, USA

This 19th-century cemetery is known for sculptures on tombstone slabs intertwined with nature. It became particularly popular in the late 20th century after being mentioned in John Berendt’s novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and later in the film adaptation.

Photo by: Frommer’s Travel Guides

Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, USA

The grave of John F. Kennedy is located here, as well as veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Photo by: Wikipedia

Trinity Cemetery, New York, USA

Located at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, this cemetery has a three-hundred-year history. Many famous people are buried here: Robert Fulton – the constructor of the first steamboat, Alexander Hamilton – the first Secretary of the Treasury, David Hosack – a scientist who founded a botanical garden, and many others.

“The Tradition of Feasting Among Graves is Abandoned”

Americans often contemplate their final resting place long before death. In order to secure a spot in a cemetery, they buy a plot for themselves. The appearance of American cemeteries often differs from Western European or Russian ones.

For instance, most tombstones are placed directly on the ground, without fences, tables, or benches beyond the enclosure. American tombstones lack photographs of the deceased, flowers, or icons.

Usually, active cemeteries in Russia are not located within city limits – they are all on the outskirts. However, Americans prefer not to bury their loved ones far from the city limits, often within the city itself, as mentioned above.

Typically, an American grave is a modest stone gravestone without any distinctive marks. Sculptures in full stature next to a beloved “Mercedes” are not practiced.

The cleanliness and orderliness of the grave and its surroundings are taken care of not by the deceased’s relatives, but by special services.

Many people visit American cemeteries for a stroll, much like in a park, not just to visit relatives. Drinking alcohol and having feasts among the graves, as in Russia, is not customary in the USA.

The Controversial Resting Place: “He was True to His Demons”

However, it’s difficult to predict how admirers will behave at the grave of a deceased celebrity in any country. More than half a century has passed since the day when the frontman of The Doors, the legendary Jim Morrison, was found dead in his Paris apartment. Born in Florida and raised in California, he was destined to be buried in Paris.

Morrison’s grave at the Père Lachaise Cemetery is quite modest, topped with a copper plaque engraved with the words: “He was true to his demons.” Initially, the burial site was adorned with a marble bust, but it is rumored that fans stole it. In many guidebooks, the grave of The Doors’ leader is listed among the top 10 most visited attractions in Paris. It is also said to be the loudest burial site in the cemetery, as it has become a place of cult worship for fans of the musical idol. They cover neighboring graves with pacifist slogans, shower the tombstone with flowers, various symbols, notes, photographs of the idol, organize entire concerts, and smoke marijuana.

Leave a Reply