I spend time here. The winding alleys are stacked with graves, so calming, so unlike the buzzing surrounding streets of the city. There’s wisdom to be learned from the headstones and abandoned vaults and most visitors are congregated around the celebrity artists so you have much of the cemetery to yourself.
The centerpiece is the Monument to the Dead (Monument aux Morts) sculpted by Paul Albert Bartholomé. Organized in two levels, with twenty larger than life figures, the upper terrace focuses on the transition from life to death, while the lower portrays what happens after the big move. The figures on the left whispering words of farewell demonstrate the despair, grief, despondency and resignation with the death of a loved one. An inscription reads: “”Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Chilling, non?
Behind the locked doors lies an ossuary of the bones of Parisians from cemeteries all over the city, a smaller kind of modern day catacombs. When it became overcrowded recently, the bones were removed for cremation and returned to the ossuary after the cremation process. Efforts were made to store bones and ashes in separate boxes.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
Address: 16 Rue du Repos, 75020
Don’t be afraid to wander off the wide cobbled paths to discover historical curiosities and tidbits of wisdom.
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn. — Oscar Wilde (engraved on his tomb)
16 Rue du Repos