Never in a million years would I have ever seen myself going on a tour, in a cemetery; it just seems so creepy, spooky and scary. But, a cemetery tour is a thing, and its quite popular in the city of New Orleans. Everything is just different in Nawlins; the food, the culture and the way they celebrate and revere their beloved lost ones. In New Orleans, death is celebrated.
The city is known to have jazz funerals where mourners are led to the cemetery with solemn music by a brass band, and from the cemetery, the music shifts to more celebratory tunes and lots of dancing. A New Orleans jazz funeral could last as long as a week and can even include a parade.
Equally as unique to the jazz funerals are the cemeteries where the dead rest. New Orleans revolutionized the cemetery tour. I have never heard of a cemetery tour anywhere else! But why? Well, I’ll tell you why. NOLA was built on swamp land and in order to keep the dead buried and not floating, they must be buried in above ground tombs. These ornate mausoleums and vaults ornately built and decorated resemble little streets, and because of this, have earned the name “cities of the dead”. Fascinating right?
Recently while in the city for a quick trip, I was dragged to the most famous cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery #1. Located on Basin St., this Catholic cemetery is the home to many famous people including Marie Laveau, the legendary “voodoo queen.” If you watch American Horror Story Coven, you may know who she is. Me? I had no idea! Apparently, she was sort of a major deal in New Orleans, so much so that her grave is the biggest attraction in the cemetery. Visitors drop everything from coins to candles and even wine in hopes of attracting some blessing from Marie. Pretty weird stuff. The cemetery is also the home other famous people from New Orleans and American actor Nicholas Cage even bought a piece of real estate for the future.
Some major advice if you’re interested in visiting St. Louis.
- You can not enter the cemetery without a guide. Catholic rules.
- There is a huge tour office a few steps away from the cemetery. You can even take the hop on hop off bus from there. The cost is $25, or $20. My memory sucks.
- It’s really not that scary. I was like la la la la, are we done yet?
- It’s very interesting, so pay attention!
If you’re ever in New Orleans, do something different. Trust me, I am the scariest person in the world. When I was in the cemetery my phone started to take pictures on its own, I was like….is that you Marie? It was probably Apple trying to get me to buy an iPhone 7.
Have you been on a cemetery tour? Did you love it? Hated it?