New Orleans is well known as the capital of the Mardi Gras festival, the birthplace of jazz, and as a melting pot of Cajun, Creole, Afro-Caribbean, and Southern influences. But the Crescent City is also a veritable necropolis, home to more famous and unusual cemeteries, crypts, and tombs than almost any other.
The city is dotted with a distinctive style of graveyard known as the “City of the Dead,” named because of its resemblance to a small village. This style of burial evolved out of necessity: Because New Orleans is built on wet, swampy land, interment is impossible, so the dead have to be laid to rest above ground in stone mausoleums and tombs. Clustered together in some of the city’s oldest cemeteries like Saint Louis No. 1 and Lafayette, these structures resemble eerie marble cities.
This is a guide to some of the strangest, creepiest, and most puzzling places you are likely to find wandering among New Orleans’ graveyards. Some invoke the Louisiana voodoo tradition, others are grim reminders of Southern slavery, and still others are simply curiosities that contribute to the oddball charm of one of the most wonderfully weird American cities.