New Orleans is infamous for its spooky side, both due to its storied past as well as some of its more macabre recent days – only here could you make a list of "best cemeteries" and have more than a few to choose from. Indeed, New Orleans' cemeteries span its entire history, so whether you want to commune with the souls of the long-dead, or hit up corners that are newly haunted, you'll have your pick. Here are some of the most terrifying.
St. Roch Cemetery #1
As is the case with many of New Orleans' most popular cemeteries, St. Roch Cemetery has more than one "branch," as it were, and as is also the case with such cemeteries, the first is by far the creepiest. It isn't just the creepiness that makes St. Roch Cemetery #1 so distinctive, however, although its towering tombstones and dramatic "Stations of the Cross" definitely guarantee that plenty of chills will run down your spine as you traipse through it.
Rather, it's the human details that make a visit to St. Roch so memorable. From notes to the dead, written out by hand, to medical supplies like crutches and prostheses that may or may not have belong to people buried in the cemetery, St. Roch Cemetery #1 is a place that will make you scratch your head – and, maybe, hold your breath.
Charity Hospital and Katrina Memorial
While St. Roch Cemetery #1 dates back to the mid-19th century, Charity Hospital has more modern roots – or at least part of its does, anyway. The original impetus for the burial ground actually dates from the same time period at St. Roch #1, when a yellow fever epidemic swept through New Orleans. In 2007, however, the city added a memorial to Hurricane Katrina victims to the site, making it come full circle in a sad and devastating way.
St. Louis Cemetery #1
Not to be confused with the French-inflected city a few hundred miles up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery #1 is far more frightening than anything you'll find under the Gateway Arch. For one, legend has it that Marie Laveau, New Orleans' reputed "Voodoo Queen," haunts this cemetery, or at least that she is buried here, to say nothing of the creepiness the cemetery's age - nearly 250 years – imparts upon visitors.
St. Louis Cemetery is scary, no doubt, but it's also one of New Orleans' most-visiter attractions. Even if you're not an ardent urban explorer, you might find it's one of the sights to which your New Orleans hotel can offer an organizer tour.
Greenwood Cemetery and Mausoleum
The Greenwood Cemetery and Mausoleum dates back to the same time period as St. Roch Cemetery and the original Charity Hospital memorial, but it somehow manages to feel more modern. Its contemporary flair notwithstanding, it's not any less creepy, even if the way a giant Brass Elk (which you'll find at Greenwood Cemetery) makes your hair stand on end is slightly different from the effect Angels of Death at St. Roch have on you.
The best news about New Orleans' cemeteries, of course, is that these options only scratch the surface. New Orleans is so replete is horrifying history, in fact, that your most spine-tingling sighting might be just around the next corner. Do you dare face it?