There’s a certain fascination in visiting cemeteries that you don’t encounter elsewhere. Morbidity, an unnatural peace, a sense of time stood still, of memories quietly turning to dust beneath your feet… the mood of a graveyard can be hard to describe. Perhaps it’s the closeness of architectural beauty to a very human sense of decay; maybe it’s that intangible quality in the air we call ‘atmosphere’. For whatever reason, cemeteries remain oddly-compelling places for exploration. Here are 8 of the best for doing just that:
Karaite Cemetery (Crimea)
(Images: Serhii Piddubchak, reproduced with permission)
Hidden in wooded Iosofatova Valley near the old Tartar capital of Bakhchysaray, the Karaite Cemetery is as spooky as they come. Beneath slender Oak trees, thousands of broken tombstones lie at mournful angles, covered in a near-indecipherable Hebrew script. The ground is uneven, the graves shrouded in moss and lichen and – on a quiet day – a disquieting silence seems to settle over everything, giving the place an other-worldly atmosphere. For the best part of a millennium, the Karaites brought their dead here; to a sacred grove known as ‘Balta Tuymez’, a place that still seems to tingle with magic. Standing there in the shadow of the plateau as the sun goes down, it’d take a brave visitor not to feel just the faintest shiver.