Most of us don’t consider death and beauty as inhabiting the same space, but the reality is there are gorgeous final resting spots around the world that are both natural and manmade. As places of tranquility and peace, they give family members the opportunity to visit, reflect and remember.
Among the most famous mausoleums are:
- Humayun’s Tomb. A UNESCO world heritage site built in 1570 in Delhi, Humayun’s Tomb is culturally significant because it was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent. Many major architectural innovations were inspired by this tomb, including the Taj Mahal.
- Castel Sant’Angelo. Also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, this towering cylindrical building in Rome was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian sometime between 134 and 139 AD, to serve as a mausoleum for his family. It was later used as a fortress and castle by the popes, and is now a museum.
- Tomb of Jahangir. Located in Lahore, Pakistan, this mausoleum took 10 years to build, with construction happening from 1627-1637. Featuring four gardens, it has a ring of eight fountains around the central tomb. Its interiors are elaborately embellished with frescoes and marble, and the exterior is decorated in pietra dura.
- Imam Husayn Shrine: Located in Iraq outside of Baghdad, this shrine is one of the most sacred holy places for Shi’ite Muslims, which also include Mecca and Medina. It houses the tomb of Imam Husayn, who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD. The minarets and dome are covered in pure gold.
- Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs: Located in the Shirvanshah Palace complex in Azerbaijan, this mausoleum is the tomb of the sultan, Shirvanshah, but also houses the remains of 13 other members of the royal family. It’s a large, rectangular, stone structure crowned by a hexahedral dome. In the past, the faces of the dome were covered in turquoise enameling and stars.
- Shah-i-Zinda: This stunning avenue of mausoleums features some of the most beautiful tile work in the Muslim world. Located in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, it was established more than 1,000 years ago but underwent an extensive and somewhat controversial renovation in 2005. It’s a sacred place and the site of many pilgrimages.
- Taj Mahal: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the most famous and universally admired mausoleum in the world. It was built between 1631 and 1648 in Agra, India, by order of the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Made of pure white marble, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the most beautiful piece of Muslim art in India.
- Lenin’s Tomb: Located in Red Square in Moscow, Lenin’s tomb is a step-pyramid made of red granite and black labratorite. Inside, visitors can line up to see Lenin himself, perhaps the most famous “modern mummy” in the world.
- Tomb of Cyrus: In the Persian city of Pasargadae stands this monument to Cyrus, the first emperor to be given the epithet “the Great” because of his status as the “father of the Iranian nation” and conqueror of the Median, Lydian and Neo-Babylonian empires. It’s a simple stone building set atop a series of stacked platforms, and this construction makes it virtually earthquake-proof.
Like this list of exceptional mausoleums, Chapel of the Chimes is in a class of its own in the United States. It’s the nation’s only combination mausoleum and columbarium as well as a historical landmark designed by noted architect Julia Morgan. Because of its beauty and historical significance, it’s a final resting place chosen by many notable local residents.
You’re welcome to schedule a tour to learn about this beautiful, historic property. Call 510.379.5200.