Obscura Day 2017! Join our global celebration of exploration and discovery.
May 6

8 of the World’s Strangest Burial Spots

(Photo: jojo nicdao/Flickr)

Death could take you at any time, so it is always a good idea to have some instructions in place for how you would like to be buried. But why settle for a boring underground burial when you could have your body stored for its eternal rest in all sorts of interesting places? In fact, all over the world, people have been burying the dead in unexpected locales.

To help inspire you, here are eight weird places around the world where people have been interred. 

1. Between the tables of a restaurant

The New Lucky Restaurant(Photo: ynaija.com)

India’s New Lucky Restaurant brings new meaning to a place people are dying to eat at. Owner Krishnan Kutti had already purchased the land where his eatery was to be built when he discovered that it was in fact a cemetery. Undeterred, Kutti leaned into the problem and simply built his restaurant around the graves and headstones, making them a selling point for his unique establishment. The green sarcophagi can be seen resting in the floor behind a small white fence. Diners don’t seem to mind the graves, which seem to drive sales as much as it might drive them away.    

2. In a tree

(Photo: Matt Paish/Flickr)

The Toraja people of Indonesia are known for their elaborate and involved funeral rites which often include mummy parades and graves built into the side of a cliff, but one of the stranger aspects of their traditions are the grave of children and babies. When tragedy takes the life of a young child, the Toraja often inter the little body in a tree hollow, building a crude wooden door over the burial site. It is a sad thing to be sure, but it also ends up creating some evocative imagery, and ultimately a grave to remember. 

3. Under a little house

Burial Spirit Houses(Photo: Raymond Bucko, SJ/Flickr)

At the intersection of Russian Orthodox religious tradition and Native Alaskan funeral rites, are the Burial Spirit Houses standing outside of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Eklutna, Alaska. According to tradition, when someone dies their body is buried and a blanket is placed over the grave. After the blanket has been there for a while, a little wooden house, about the size of large dollhouse, is placed over the grave, and is painted in the family colors. Unlike more traditional burial sites, the little houses are not kept up or restored, and are simply allowed to disintegrate back into the ground. In fact this decay is part of the tradition.  

4. Hanging from a cliff

(Photo: Rick McCharles/Flickr)

The people of the Sagada region of the Philippines aren’t afraid to show off their dead. In fact they are known for their tradition of hanging exposed coffins from a cliffside. In a practice that dates back thousands of years, the Sagada carve their own coffins before they die (or a family member does it for them), and then they are hoisted up to literally hang around with their ancestors. Many of their hanging coffins are hundreds of years old, and they all have a unique look and feel since they were made by the person inside of them. It almost looks like a cross-section of a traditional in-ground cemetery. 

5. In a piece of modern art

San Cataldo Cemetery (Photo: warosu.org)

Being buried in the San Cataldo Cemetery wouldn’t seem so strange if the whole wasn’t an ultra-modern box for filing away the dead. Created as a proof of concept 1972 by architect Aldo Rossi, the “cemetery” is stark to say the least. It takes the form of a bright orange cube with nothing adorning the exterior but a grid of square windows that would have been where the dead were buried. Unfortunately Rossi himself died in 1976, and he was never able to see his super-efficient body box put to use. It won a number of design awards, but no body has yet to be buried there. Maybe you could be the first.   

6. Behind a Walmart

Crowley Mausoleum (Photo: Anita White/Atlas Obscura)

Tucked away in the parking lot behind a Walmart super store in Decatur, Georgia is a entire historic cemetery that has stuck it out through the march of progress. First created in the early 1800s the Crowley graveyard grew to hold 13 bodies, buried on a small hilltop. However times changed, and Decatur grew up around the cemetery, leveling down the hill to make room for a mall parking lot, and leaving the Crowley family plot high and dry. A mausoleum was built around the graves and the parking lot was built around that. While the mall is no longer there, a Walmart stands in its place. But just out back, near the dumpsters and the workers on a smoke break , the Crowley graves remain unmoved.   

7. In an airplane runway

Dotson Runway Graves(Photo: Google Maps)

If you look out the window of your plane while taking off or landing at Georgia’s Savannah Airport, you might be able to see two concrete rectangle sitting askew in the blacktop runway. These are in face the headstones of Richard and Catherine Dotson, a deceased couple who refused to be moved as the airport grew right over their graves. As is often the case when expansion threatens a historic graveyard, most of the bodies surrounding the Dotson’s were moved as the airport expanded outward. However the surviving Dotsons refused to give consent to move the grave since they believed that Richard and Catherine, who struggled to purchase and maintain the land, would have wanted to stay. Unfortunately the dead rarely stop progress and the graves were simply paved over. They are just one more reason to say prayer when taking off. 

8. In a secret graveyard of shame

Plot E(Photo: Stranger20824/Wikipedia)

This is actually a rather normal graveyard save for the fact that it has been effectively disappeared existence. Plot E in the Oise Aisne American Cemetery in France holds the bodies of 94 American soldiers who were convicted of capital crimes during World War I and World War II. Every person in the plot was executed for their crimes and buried beneath tiny graves with just a number and no name. The plot itself is hidden behind tall hedges, and can only be accessed through the caretaker’s office. No flags are allowed to fly over the plot either. The dead in Plot E are buried to forget.