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Châteaudun, France

Cimetière du Champdé

The remains of this ornate chapel now act as a portal to a cramped French cemetery. 

The ghostly ruins of the 16th-century Notre-Dame-du-Champdé church stand watch over the entrance to the 19th-century Cimetière du Champdé where thousands of bodies are buried in overfull graves.

A large, crumbling stone facade and a single tower are all that remain of the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Champdé, which stood on the site from 1519 until its destruction by fire in 1878. The ghostly portal, home and perch to a small murder of crows, stands watch over the final resting place of thousands, including several dozen veterans of the First and Second World Wars, at the Cimetière du Champdé in Châteaudun. The ornate facade could itself be seen as a headstone for the departed church it once belonged to.

Typical of those elsewhere in the country, the cemetery is crowded, with hundreds upon hundreds of crosses, headstones, and other markers spanning out in every direction. Many graves and mausoleums are family plots which contain the remains of four, five, or often seven or eight people.

If ruins can be seen as the graves of buildings, we should all be so lucky as to be remembered with such a lovely memorial as that which acts as the gate to Cimetière du Champdé.

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