Hauntingly beautiful, Bonaventure Cemetery is the perfect destination for the tombstone tourist. Live oaks drizzle Spanish moss over gothic tombstones, mausoleums and obelisks. Lavish memorial sculptures dot the grounds. “Part natural cathedral, part sculptural garden, Bonaventure transcends time.”
While making our way through the sprawling property, we joked that had Mike taken me through a cemetery as a first date we probably wouldn’t have worked out. As a newly married couple however, it seemed more than appropriate!
A beautiful, lush “city of the dead”, the approximately 100-acre cemetery is a reflection of the changing views on death and dying during the Victorian era. During this period of time death became romanticized and ritualized, and the architecture and sculptures throughout Bonaventure reflect death as a romantic notion.
We spent the better half of 2 hours walking the grounds, intrigued by the maze of graves and sculpture gardens. The symbolism used on different graves is diverse. Military generals, poet Conrad Aiken, Academy Award-winning lyricist Johnny Mercer and Georgia’s first governor Edward Telfair are among those buried here. Mass graves are dedicated to the remains of confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Certain plots form a Holocaust Memorial in remembrance of what was a large Jewish community.
The cemetery is most famous, however, for the Bird Girl statue which featured on the cover of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Though after the huge success of the book the statue was relocated to a museum for her own protection!
Bonaventure Cemetery is located at 330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah and open to the public from 8am – 5pm daily. Commercial tours are available for around $25. Free tours are given on Sundays. Visit their website for more details.
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