Sight Seen : Europe Whirl - Cimetiredu Pre Lachaise

Paris - Cimetiredu Pre Lachaise

The world's most-visited cemetery, Pre Lachaise opened in 1804. Its 70,000 ornate and ostentatious tombs of the rich and famous form a verdant, 44-hectare sculpture garden. The most visited are those of 1960s rock star Jim Morrison (division 6) and Oscar Wilde (division 89). Pick up cemetery maps at the conservation office near the main bd de Mnilmontant entrance. Other notables buried here include composer Chopin; playwright Molire poet Apollinaire; and writers Balzac, Proust, Gertrude Stein and Colette.You can also find actors Sarah Bernhardt and Yves Montand; painters Pissarro, Seurat, Modigliani and Delacroix; chanteuse Édith Piaf; and dancer Isadora Duncan.

Of interest, more for the tale than the tomb, is the Mur des Fédérés (Wall of the Federalists). On 27 May 1871, the last of the Communard insurgents, cornered by government forces, fought a hopeless, all-night battle among the tombstones. In the morning, the 147 survivors were lined up against this completely ordinary, plain brick wall, shot, and buried where they fell in a mass grave. Commemorative memorials to those who've died during almost every other war in modern history lie opposite to form an emotive alleyway – it is impossible not to be moved.

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