What word comes to mind when you think of a mausoleum? Is it ‘morbid’, ‘creepy’ or ‘strange’ or rather, ‘interesting’, ‘cool’ or ‘fascinating’? Many would argue the latter, and we’d have to say, we agree! Today, we’re taking a step back into history and shining the spotlight on 5 fascinating mausoleums around the world.
*Keep in mind that while some of these mausoleums (or parts of them) are closed to the public, there’s still lots of information to digest and marvel at online!
Before we dive in, are you're wondering what exactly a mausoleum is? Well, it's basically a free-standing building in which the remains of a deceased person are housed. Although most mausoleums tend to be more on the bodest side, there are some pretty sepctacular sites right around the globe. Now let's dive in...
This site is a popular tourist destination, but not many realise that it was actually commissioned to hold the remains of Mumtaz Mahal, the favoured wife of emperor Shah Jahan. (It also houses the remains of its builder!). Situated on the Yamuna River in Agra, the large white marble mausoleum has a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. (Also, it’s unlikely that any tourist has ever been to Agra and not visited the famous site – that would *almost* be unheard of).
History buffs and anyone who paid attention in history class will be familiar with Lenin’s Mausoleum – the resting place of Vladimir Lenin. You may be surprised to learn that his embalmed body has been on public display since 1924 – the year he died. A team of embalmers work daily to maintain the corpse and ensure that it looks as lifelike as possible, and every 18 months the corpse is removed for a special chemical bath. Fascinating? Yes. Creepy? A bit. Okay, a lot.
Located in Xi’an, China, this mausoleum is also UNESCO World Heritage-listed. This is due to its great cultural intrigue and the thousands of years of history it hides since construction was completed in 208 BC. The incredible thing about this mausoleum is that it was only discovered in 1974 by farmers digging a well. Instead of finding water, they unearthed the tomb of Emperor Qinshihuang, the founder of the first unified empire in Chinese history (3rd century BCE). That would’ve been a shock, we reckon. This site houses thousands of famous terracotta warriors – each unique in their own way – all tasked with protecting the emperor in the afterlife. Fascinating.
In the heart of Paris’ Latin Quarter, tourists flock to the famous Panthéon mausoleum – the final resting place of many celebrated figures in French and Parisian history, including Victor Hugo, Marie Curie and Voltaire. The building was completed at the peak of the French Revolution and was built with an eye to it becoming a mausoleum for French heroes shortly after. If you’re confused about the name, yes – this site is different from the Pantheon in Rome, Italy – in fact, this Parisian Panthéon was modelled after it. Inside you’ll find stunning tiled floors, vibrant artwork and an intricately detailed ceiling. At the top are gorgeous panoramic views of Paris. Stunning.
The Royal Burial ground is the final resting place of many members of the Royal Family, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The Mausoleum is located near Frogmore House – about half a mile south of Windsor Castle – which was given its name due to the dampness in the area. While this site is closed to the public (due to being structurally unsound), the external areas are included as part of a special royal tour. The building has been undergoing serious renovations in recent years to resolve the damp issues, with the most recent restoration project beginning in June 2018. Despite not being able to see inside the Royal Mausoleum, you can still make your way to the iconic Home Park near Windsor Castle, and on special days of the year – Frogmore Estate opens its gate to visitors, as well.
These are just 5 world-famous examples of mausoleums worth reading more about, but if this topic has piqued your interest, then there’s plenty more where this all came from! Head to the UNESCO World Heritage website for a quick history lesson, or seek out your own information by deep diving into this wonderful side of the internet.
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