Pere Lachaise Cemetery | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery (Cimetière du Père-Lachaise) was a cemetery established by Napoleon I in 1804.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery history

Originally considered to be too far from the main city, Pere Lachaise Cemetery initially attracted few funerals, but following a marketing campaign and the transfer of the remains of French philosopher Pierre Abélard in 1817, its popularity grew and it soon gained over 33,000 residents.

From singer Edith Piaf, novelist Marcel Proust and impressionist painter Camille Pissarro to playwright Oscar Wilde, an array of famous figures are buried there today. One of the most popular graves at Pere Lachaise Cemetery is that of The Doors’ front man Jim Morrison, probably attracting the largest number of visitors, but all of the graves are fascinating, including those of the regular citizens.

The cemetery was twice the scene of armed fighting: once in 1814, during the Napoleonic Wars, when it was overrun by Russians in the Battle of Paris, and a second time in May 1871, during the turmoil of the Paris Commune, when 147 Communards were slaughtered there. This is also surrounded by monuments to concentration camp victims from the Holocaust.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery today

Pere Lachaise Cemetery extends 44 hectares and contains 70,000 burial plots. Estimates concerning the number of people buried there vary widely, from some 300,000 to about 1,000,000. The cemetery is a mix between an English park and a shrine. All funerary art styles are represented: Gothic graves, Haussmanian burial chambers and ancient mausoleums.

Maps are available to buy at the entrance, but you can also use the directories on the grounds. Overall, Pere Lachaise Cemetery is a peaceful and interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Getting to Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Pere Lachaise Cemetery is situated in the 20th arrondissement of Paris.

The main entrance is on the Boulevard de Ménilmontant, with the nearby Porte du Repos pedestrian entrance being convenient to the Philippe-Auguste station of the Paris Métro’s Line 2. Other Métro stations near the cemetery include Père Lachaise (Line 2 and 3) and Gambetta near the north or back entrance (Line 3).

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