Cimetière Saint-Pierre – Marseille, France - Atlas Obscura

Cimetière Saint-Pierre

France's third-largest necropolis offers a peaceful respite from a busy port city. 


France’s third-largest cemetery offers a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of Marseille. While strolling around the sprawling graveyard, it feels as though time has stopped and the noise and movement of the city have disappeared.

Though the Cimetière Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter’s Cemetery) is one of France’s largest cemeteries, it certainly isn’t among its oldest. It was first established in 1855, though it wasn’t officially inaugurated until 1863.

Before the 63-hectare necropolis was created, many of the mortal remains of its inhabitants were originally interred elsewhere. By the end of the 18th century, there was pushback against burying bodies within churches and their surrounding grounds. The Saint Charles Cemetery was thus created as a place to dispose of the dead farther away from the city. However, it wasn’t long before Marseille grew, rendering the cemetery too close for comfort to those who were opposed to urban burials.

Those who had originally been buried in the Saint Charles Cemetery were relocated to Saint Peter’s Cemetery. Now, the graveyard is a peaceful spot away from the rush of the city center. Its many remarkable monuments and beautiful sculptures are a mixture of sad, sophisticated, and comforting architecture and art.

Know Before You Go

The cemetery is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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