Where do famous people get buried? Some celebrities have impressive monuments in exclusive cemeteries. But some choose a more private and modest resting place. Many fans take the time to visit celebrity graves to pay their respects to someone who affected them personally or culturally. Here are some of the most talked about celebrity graves across the world. They’re worth visiting if you ever get the chance.
Famous graves in the UK
Famous people buried in Westminster Abbey:
Queen Elizabeth I
There are many historic kings and queens among the famous people buried in Westminster Abbey, London. One of the most famous royal tombs belongs to Elizabeth I. She was well-known for her negotiation skills. And she was queen during a time when literature and the arts thrived. Her army defeated the Spanish Armada and she calmed the conflict between Protestants and Catholics during her 44 year reign.
Sir Isaac Newton
Scientist Isaac Newton was also buried in Westminster Abbey. Famous for his discoveries in maths and physics (especially the laws of gravity) his tomb has a monument above it showcasing his achievements.
Famous physicist Stephen Hawking is also buried near Sir Isaac Newton in Scientist’s corner in Westminster Abbey. His tomb has an engraving which says “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking”. After writing A Brief History of Time Hawking became famous for his knowledge of black holes. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his twenties and given just a couple of years to live. But he lived for another 50 years.
Along with British scientists and royals there are more than 100 famous writers buried in Westminster Abbey. Charles Dickens’ tomb is in Poets’ Corner where many of these writers are buried or honoured with statues. Dickens is remembered for his novels from the Victorian era including Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol. His tomb is simple. It’s engraved with his name and the dates of his birth and death. This is because a friend organised for a small funeral to take place here so that his lover could attend and his estranged wife would not.
Famous people buried in Highgate cemetery:
Author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams, is just one of the famous writers buried in Highgate cemetery in London. Fans of his writing still visit his grave and leave pens behind in his honour.
Famous singer George Michael is buried next to his mother and sister in Highgate cemetery. His family chose a private plot for his grave. It’s even off limits on paid tours through the cemetery. So fans have been known to leave flowers and memorials outside his former home in Highgate instead.
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Best known for her novel Middlemarch, Mary Ann Evans is buried in Highgate cemetery. Both the name she used for publishing her work (George Eliot) and her married name (Mary Ann Cross) are engraved on her headstone. She’s most famous for her novels in the Victorian period. But she was also a translator and journalist.
One of the most famous graves in Highgate cemetery is the large tribute to Karl Marx. Famous for his political theories that influenced communism, his writing is still studied today. The tribute features a large bronze bust of Marx. And it also has quotes from his work engraved on the marble monument underneath. It says “Workers of all lands unite”. Because of its historical significance the monument is now listed.
Famous graves in Europe
Celebrity graves in Père Lachaise, Paris:
Lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison is buried in France’s best-known cemetery in Paris. His monument features a quote in Greek picked out by his father. It translates as “True to his own spirit” or “True to his own demons”. Although Morrison was an American songwriter he died and was buried in Paris under strange circumstances. Apparently he died of a heart attack or potential drug overdose. But many of his fans believe that he staged his death so he could escape the limelight.
Irish writer Oscar Wilde is among the many artists and writers who are buried in Père Lachaise. He fled to France after spending time in jail in the UK and just a few years later died of meningitis. He’s best known for his writing in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest and his fans still visit his grave in Paris today. The large monument is a figure with wings and has been covered with lipstick kisses from fans. To protect it the tomb is now behind a glass screen.
Famous graves in America
One of the most famous graves in the US belongs to Elvis Presley. Hundreds of thousands of people still visit the gravesite each year to leave tributes and sing his songs. The grave is in the grounds of his Graceland mansion in Memphis. It’s also where his mother, father and grandmother are buried.
Fans still visit Marilyn Monroe’s vault in Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles. It’s just a simple plaque with her stage name and years lived on it. But you can spot it by the lipstick kisses that are left by fans. At the time of her death in 1962 her partner Joe DiMaggio made sure it was a small funeral at what was a quiet burial site. But since her death the Westwood Village Memorial Park became a popular burial site for other celebrities. Some other celebrities buried there include Truman Capote, Roy Orbison and Frank Zappa.
Martin Luther King Jr
Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr is buried in what is now a national historic park in Atlanta. The Baptist church where he worked as a pastor is part of the park. And there’s also a museum and visitors’ centre where people can learn more about his legacy. His grave is located close to the church and is engraved with the words “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last”.
Unmarked celebrity graves
There’s a statue dedicated to Freddie Mercury in Montreux, Switzerland. But it’s not actually his grave. No one knows where his final resting place is apart from his ex-partner Mary Austin. She was responsible for burying his ashes and kept it private. The statue in memory of Freddie Mercury was placed next to Lake Geneva in Montreux because that’s where he spent a lot of time recording his last album.
Even though David Bowie was a renowned singer and released music over 60 years he chose a modest funeral. His ashes were later scattered somewhere in Bali, Indonesia. He chose to have intimate Buddhist rituals at the scattering of his ashes. And only his wife and children know where his final resting place is.
John Lennon didn’t have an official funeral. And his wife Yoko Ono scattered his ashes in Central Park, New York. There’s now a tribute to him in Central Park called Strawberry Fields where an “Imagine” memorial lies. Many fans still gather to pay tribute to Lennon. And buskers are often found playing Beatles’ songs nearby.
Funeral Choice offers a free funeral director search and comparison service, as well as helpful advice on arranging a funeral. If you’re looking for ideas for memorials you can read our guide here. Or learn more about places for scattering ashes.