From Lenin's solemn mausoleum to Wilde's lipsticked tomb, we visit the resting places of fascinating luminaries SLIDE SHOW
The rich, the famous, the powerful, the fabulously talented … so hard for mere mortals to mingle with in life, so easy to linger with in death. Making a pilgrimage to a famous grave can be an odd experience, particularly when it isn’t where you might expect. Who would think to look for James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges in Switzerland — or F. Scott Fitzgerald among the strip-mall hell of suburban D.C.? Death just happens. Those on the brink of death can get caught unawares, left to spend eternity in a place they scarcely knew or were just passing through, or be forcibly brought back home by family after a long escape (like poor Charlie Parker, who ended up back in Kansas against his wishes).
Irony, apparently, isn’t just for the living. While Fitzgerald’s gravestone is an austere afterthought, the man who wrote about turning to dirt on someone’s boot soles, Walt Whitman, commissioned an expensive granite mausoleum before his death. It’s no surprise that the poet spent his final years reworking his magnum opus “Leaves of Grass” for the umpteenth time, but the fact that he did so while also carefully overseeing the construction of his own tomb feels like quite a departure for the man who philosophized about the soul and vowed to “make poems of my body and of mortality.”
As in life, after death, everyone seems to want a piece of what fame can bring. Cities fight over the remains of native sons. A few years back, a Philly Poe scholar went so far as to encourage local fans to “drive down I-95 and appropriate a body from a certain Baltimore cemetery” to set things right. Seville, Spain and Santo Domingo, D.R., have been sniping for centuries over which city’s cathedral houses Christopher Columbus’ bones. There are certain places, like the cemeteries of Paris or Hollywood, so jampacked with dead VIPs that a whole tourism industry and series of rituals has sprung up around visiting the tombs.
Contemplating a grave certain doesn’t provide the carefully curated experience of a person’s life that meandering through his home might. It can, however, reveal a messier truth about how he is remembered and honored by people living today. Have you ever felt inspired to visit the grave of someone you knew only from his or her life’s work? Have you discovered a famous person’s place of rest in an unexpected place? Share your macabre travel tales in the comments. You can find more travel-worthy cemeteries and graves on Trazzler.
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Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
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When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
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Every Sunday, Salon presents a feature from Trazzler spotlighting surprising travel stories from across the globe. Unexpected discoveries and strange, wonderful treasures are condensed into slide shows that entertain as much as they educate.