I love cemeteries; the mix of history, quiet, and the unknown gets me. So we definitely took some time to visit cemeteries in “City of the Dead” New Orleans. One of our stops was St. Louis Cemetery #1, the oldest cemetery in the city. It is in a delicious state of dereliction. Everything is literally falling apart. Thousands are buried in this one square block and the crowded, narrow allies between mausoleums are incredible to navigate.
The tombs are all above ground. Most people say this is due to the high water table in New Orleans, but historians argue that this is merely because of the strong Spanish and French influences, and the customs of the time. Whatever the reason, it is very cool to walk through. I became particularly obsessed with the rusting ironwork – fleurs-de-lis abound.
One of St. Louis Cemetery’s claims to fame is that Nicolas Cage built a tomb for himself there recently. It is a white stone pyramid, stuck right in the middle of the grounds. Looks like the symbology from “National Treasure” (both #1 and #2) really became a part of him!
More importantly, St. Louis #1 houses the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Madame Marie Laveau. She is supposedly interred in another family’s tomb, but a plaque has been affixed to the front to identify it for tourists. People come from all around to ask favors from Mme. Laveau and leave trinkets for her in thanks for granting their wishes. Marking a series of X’s seals the deal with Mme. Her grave had just been cleaned when we visited (apparently everything from jewelry to live chickens are left for her), so there wasn’t a lot around the tomb. However, many people believe that Mme. Laveau is buried in other tombs, and so many grave sites are decorated for her.
Tyler and I made our own wish on Marie Laveau’s tomb, left her a trinket in thanks, and marked our X’s with a brick we found on the ground. Time will tell if our wish comes true or not!