The St Roche cemeteries are across from each other. No 1 has the prosthetics eerie room in the chapel and marble statues of religious scenes. St Roche No 1 is the most impressive unusual cemetery. The 2nd one still is worth a quick peak .. worth the visit. But both cemeteries are in a dangerous area .. visiting these cemeteries was the only time I felt uneasy about our safety. the other cemeteries have enough tours and visitors .. but these 2 .. no one was there and it was a bit scary. We heard a sound and it was very concerning .. luckily just other cemetery nerds.
I enjoy exploring cemeteries but this one is unique. There is a room in the chapel dedicated to healing and those in need of healing. It has braces, prosthetics
the walls are covered with a lavish, decaying collection of cast-off prosthetics, anatomical-themed votive, and crutches, accented by casually draped rosaries; the floor ..among the pennies, candles, crucifixes, hand-scribbled notes, and "thank-you" bricks. Some think this is morbidly or interesting. At the very least I felt it was unique. At one time there was more in the room and you could actually go in ... now you can't so I assume there was theft or vandalism.
We had read the cemeteries are not safe to explore on our own and this was the only cemetery I felt nervous about our safety as it is in a questionable area and no other tourist there. The other cemeteries have so many tourists and tours moving in and out .. you can just follow them. Since it was so quiet .. it was a bit creepy and when we heard a sound from another row .. we were a bit concerned. Luckily was another cemetery nut.
New Orleans has many "above ground" cemeteries in town due to the fact that much of the city is at or below sea level. this one is just North of the French Quarter. Do not go here alone at night it is not in a good neighborhood.
It's not a case of being morbid, but the cemetaries in New Orleans give an insight into the practical difficulties of laying people to rest in an area that is at or below sea level. We visited St.Louis and Lafayette #3 cemetaries and learned about the practice of burying multiple bodies in one above ground tomb - and how they managed to get multiple bodies into such relatively small spaces. Won't spoil the surprise, but take a quick trip - its fascinating.
We visited one cemetery as part of the 2hr city VIP bus tour.
A walk in the Garden District wouldn't be complete without a visit to Lafayette Cemetery #1. Like St. Louis #1 in the French Quarter, it is a walled enclosure of Latin-style, above-ground tombs. It differs in that it's not as old, not nearly as maze-like, and reflects its own unique chapter of New Orleans history.
The Garden District was mainly settled in the 1830's by Americans and immigrants looking for opportunity in the prospering city of New Orleans. Unwelcome by the Creole society in the Quarter - largely Catholic and fiercely proud of their status as "originals" - the newcomers built their homes in the new City of Lafeyette, southwest of the Quarter. The cemetery's monuments and tomb markings illustrate the addition of families from the Northern states, Ireland, Germany, Holland and other countries. It also marks the many lives lost during the yellow fever epidemic (see pix) and locals who fell during the Civil War.
A peaceful and pleasant place to explore, you can see this cemetery with a tour (see my tour tip) or on your own. The helpful assistant at the Garden District Visitor's Center said that it was very safe and although I did glimpse one fellow sleeping soundly behind a row of tombs, there were plenty of other visitors and groundskeepers around for company.
Cemetery hours are 7:00 - 2:30 M-F, 7:00 - 12:00 Sat., closed Sundays and holidays. Free.
I never saw anything like the coffins encrypted above the ground. We visited the cemeteries in the Garden District and another Lafayette #3 near the Art Museum on Esplanade. I was surprised at how busy the cemeteries were and how friendly everyone was.
I wanted to see at least one of the cemeteries but as I was on a budget I didn't really want to take a tour. By accident I was coming out of the quarter along the same street as a horse and carriage tour (they were moving along at walking pace) - I took the opportunity to shadow the small group across to the cemetery to see where the guide took them. They didn't venture very far inside the gates so I stuck to the same parts, and left when they did (being a lone female). I got a few pictures as I wanted, and as the tours where coming in every few minutes it's pretty easy to do this and maybe safer than being in there alone with your camera.
the cemeteries of new orleans are the most unique cemeteries in the united states. all of the tombs are built above ground because of the high water table of the area. many of these tombs are beautiful works of funerary art. there are a number of cemeteries around the city and the st. louis and lafayette are the most visited. sadly these cemeteries are unsafe for the tourist because of criminals that inhabit these places. the only safe way to visit these cemeteries is by guided tour. attached are a couple of tour web sites.
If you love history, there's a ton of it to be learned by taking one of the cemetery tours. I stumbled upon one across from Commanders that was free but it's nice to make a donation because they can use the support. It sounds kind of creepy but the feeling goes away quickly.
On our Garden District Tour they took us to Lafayette Cemetery. (if anyone had seen the movie Double Jepordy with Ashley Judd - that is the cemetery and they showed us where she was).
It was intresting to hear how they do things here. For example they put the person who passed away in a coffin and put you in the vault for one year and one day. The New Orleans sun makes the body turn into ash. After that year and day they take out the casket and put the ashes in the bottom of the vault. So if you ever buy someones burial vault you can not move the ashes. So there is many familys combined in there we were told.
Also one weekend out of the year they have a cookout in the cemetery while they clean up the family vaults. Strange I know!! There were many of them that were run down.
Some of the graves are buried under ground as that is how they wanted or believe it should be. How they did that was they had dirt in cement that was raised from the ground, then they buried the loved ones in that dirt.
In the hot, humid climate of southern Louisiana, where the water table lies just a few feet below the surface, people cannot be buried. Some other method had to be devised.
The body of the deceased is set inside the stone monument, where it decomposes in the heat. In accordance with rules stipulated by the Catholic Church, they lie there for a year and a day. Then, the monument is opened, and the remains are tossed into the pit below. This way, room is available for the next one. If the next member of that family dies before the place is available, then the body is placed into one of the temporary spots on the side.
Families purchase these, and use them for generation after generation. The remains of dozens may be inside one of these.
In a city below sea level, with a very high water table, cemeteries are unique. As buried wooden coffins will frequently float to the surface, cemeteries were designed with above ground stone and marble tombs. Some of the grave sites in the old cemeteries are spectacular.
Even modern cemeteries are built above ground in the city. In the Lower 9th Ward, I drove by an above ground cemetery where it looked like at least 25% of the tombs had broken open and the coffins had floated away. I guess you can't plan for everything.