Tuesday, July 10, 2018

CALIFORNIA: Visiting a Necropolis (Colma) | Part II

Visiting cemeteries has become a bit of a tradition for us when traveling. Cemeteries provide a tranquil break from noisy cities and can often provide us with an interesting array of local history. So, of course, we made it a priority to visit our nation's Necropolis - Colma, California.

Colma is a small town just south of San Francisco, where the dead outnumber the living by 1000 to 1.  This small town was founded as a necropolis in 1924 - "necropolis" literally translates to "city of the dead" - and is the only one within the USA. Residents seem to have a good sense of humor about living in a necropolis, as the towns motto is, "It's great to be alive in Colma"!

The necropolis started to amass the dead in the early 1900s, as San Francisco outlawed and then evicted all cemeteries within the city limits. This is because the land in San Francisco is so highly valued that they felt it was a waste to use it for the dead. As a result, over a hundred thousand bodies were moved to to their new and final resting place - Colma, a town founded as a place for the dead. There was a small fee to relocated bodies, and those with survivors that could not afford this cost were instead buried in mass graves. 

We spent most of our limited time exploring the Cypress Lawn Cemeteries and Mausoleum, one of the largest in the area. The mausoleum was eerily beautiful. It was so silent and so pristine. You can tell that the community really pours a lot of work into caring for these resting places. The symmetry and glass art is so pleasing to the eye. It almost felt as though we were walking through film sets. Each hallway had a slightly different aesthetic.

Locations such as this certainly aren't for everyone, but I could have easily spent hours quietly wandering through these halls.

If you missed it, check out our first post about Colma here. 



  1. This is definitely the most beautiful mausoleum I've ever seen! I love all of the brightly colored flowers.

  2. That is just SO divine, I am at awe here. At the beauty of it all (except for that part about the poor people who had to bury their loved ones in a mass grave).