New Orleans’ Cities of the Dead

While other towns call their places of eternal rest cemeteries, New Orleans refers to them as “Cities of the Dead.” Due to our precarious setting below sea level and super moist soil, burying bodies below ground was rarely an option. So New Orleans buried its dead above ground, creating what looked like small concrete “cities,” some of which date back to the late 1700’s. The unique and sometimes eerie spaces are definitely worth a visit, and best done with a guided tour (see below for information).

Most famous of all is St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the city’s oldest cemetery, dating back to 1789. An easy walk from the French Quarter, it’s a bit of a crumbling maze of stone, but fascinating to explore. Here you’ll find the tomb of Marie Laveau, the legendary Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, as well as other notable citizens.
Basin Street at St. Louis Street
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Opened in 1823 for victims of the yellow fever epidemic, St. Louis Cemetery 2 has a wealth of ornate ironwork and intriguing Greek Revival-style tombs.
1400 Washington Avenue
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The least visited of the three, St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 was opened in 1854. Walk through an entrance graced by angels and you’ll find a slice of New Orleans history where many of the tombs are works of art.
3421 Esplanade Avenue
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The strangest of all the city’s cemeteries has to be St. Roch’s Cemetery #1. Saint Roch is the patron saint of curing epidemics, and so in a side room of the Greek Revival chapel here you’ll find a collection of discarded prosthetics, crutches, hand-written notes, and other unsettling memorabilia.
1725 Saint roch Avenue
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

St. Roch’s Cemetery #2 is a nice relief from its predecessor, with wonderful tile mosaics of saints and framed photo headstones.
1725 Music Street
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Greenwood Cemetery & Mausoleum is one of the city’s largest cemeteries. Opened in 1852, it’s notable for the Elks Lodge tomb that’s topped with an enormous bronze elk statue, and for housing the graves of 600Civil War soldiers.
120 City Park Avenue
Monday – Sunday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Because many of the cemeteries do not allow visitors without a tour, it’s best to sign on with a guide service. One of the best is Gray Line New Orleans, which offers a two-hour New Orleans Cemetery Tour that provides a good deal of interesting history.
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Adults, $27; Child (6-12), $15

While we’re discussing places of rest… plan to stay here at Avenue Inn while visiting the city. We’re in an ideal location for touring and offer all the comforts you want when you head off for a relaxing stay. Give us a call today!

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