The oldest mausoleums date to 350 BCE when Egyptian kings were entombed in a pyramid-shaped monument. Today’s mausoleums aren’t reserved for royalty or celebrities. Keep reading to learn how to create a lasting memorial for you and your family.
What Is a Mausoleum?
First, a quick explanation of mausoleums. A mausoleum is a free-standing building constructed as a monument containing interment space or burial chamber. In places where high water tables prevent ground burial, mausoleums offer secure areas for individuals and families.
Mausoleums are typically made of stone, such as granite or marble. They are designed to withstand the elements and can be secured to prevent theft or vandalism.
Fantastic Mausoleums of the World
Here are a few incredible mausoleums, both famous and less well-known. Click here for the accompanying video.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Arguably one of the most famous structures on Earth, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to immortalize his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631. A massive, shimmering monument of white marble, it took 22 years and over 22,000 laborers to build. The mausoleum’s name comes from the Persian, meaning “Crown of the Palace.”
The Taj Mahal complex is situated on the southern bank of the Yamuna River and consists of several buildings, including the main mausoleum, a mosque, a guesthouse, and lush gardens. The mausoleum is the central structure built entirely of white marble. It features a large dome flanked by four smaller domes at its corners. The exterior of the Taj Mahal is adorned with intricate inlay work made from semi-precious stones, forming geometric patterns, calligraphy, and floral motifs.
Visitors claim that the Taj Mahal appears to change color. The bright white marble reflects daylight and moonlight, shading the monument in pink, yellow, and blue hues.
The Great Mausoleum is one of the most prominent structures within Forest Lawn Cemetery, a memorial park equally famous for its picturesque landscapes, art, and notable burials.
Constructed in 1917, the Great Mausoleum is a grand and imposing building resembling a European cathedral with stunning architecture and intricate details. The mausoleum consists of multiple sections and galleries, each offering a unique and elegant setting for interments.
One of the most notable features of the Great Mausoleum is the Court of Honor, home to a replica of Michelangelo’s David, stained glass windows, ornate mosaics, and numerous crypts.
Among the many celebrities entombed within the Great Mausoleum are Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, W.C. Fields, Jean Harlow, Gutzon Borglum (the sculptor of Mount Rushmore), and Michael Jackson.
Georges Rodenbach was a 19th-century Belgian writer of tragic and sometimes melodramatic novels. Perhaps that is why his tomb, designed by French sculptor Charlotte Dubray, is so striking. A larger-than-life bronze statue of Rodenbach emerges from his tomb, clasping a single rose in his hand. Located in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, Rodenbach’s resting place is now more well-known than his best-known work, a heartbreaking story of a widower struggling to cope with grief after his wife dies.
Buffalo, New York
The Blue Sky Mausoleum, also known as the Forest Lawn Blue Sky Mausoleum, is a unique architectural structure within the Forest Lawn Cemetery, one of the city’s renowned memorial parks. It was designed by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright as a tribute to his close friend and supporter, Darwin D. Martin. The memorial’s inscription was taken from one of Wright’s letters to Martin as an epitaph: “A burial facing the open sky…The whole could not fail of noble effect.”
The mausoleum’s name comes from its signature feature: a striking blue glass ceiling representing a serene sky. The design aims to create a peaceful and contemplative atmosphere within the space. The glass allows natural light to filter into the interior, creating an ethereal effect and changing the colors and mood depending on the time of day and weather conditions.
Nicolas Cage’s Pyramid Tomb
New Orleans, Louisiana
In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased two plots in the St. Louis Cemetery to construct a personal mausoleum. The nine-foot-tall stone pyramid, made from white stone, stands in obvious contrast to the other above-ground burial sites in the 200-year-old century.
At the top of the pyramid is the Latin maxim, “Omnia Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything From One.”
Lincoln’s Tomb is the final resting place of Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most visited historic sites in the state.
The mausoleum was designed by architect Larkin G. Mead and was constructed between 1869 and 1874. The exterior features a rectangular base with a 117-foot-tall obelisk rising from its center. The granite obelisk symbolizes Lincoln’s enduring presence in American history.
Visitors can explore the tomb’s interior, adorned with murals depicting scenes from Lincoln’s life, including his famous Gettysburg Address. At the entrance to Lincoln’s Tomb is a bronze bust of America’s 16th president. Visitors from around the world have stopped to rub the nose of the statue for good luck.
What Mausoleums Offer
You do not have to be a celebrity or former president to choose a mausoleum for your final resting place. Today’s mausoleum designers and manufacturers offer a wide range of options, styles, prices, and customization options.
Benefits of a mausoleum:
- Personalized final resting place
- Dignified and traditional burial space
- Comfortable, climate-controlled visitation area
- Private and family mausoleums offer complete privacy
- Removes risk of water, soil, and other natural intrusions
- Keeps generations of family together
If you want to learn more about mausoleums as a final resting place, please contact the ShareLife location nearest you. Our preplanning specialists are happy to help you understand all your options.