New Orleans is known around the world for its food, music, architecture, and fun, but visitors are also attracted to the city for its eerie charms and creepy local legends. No Big Easy attractions are as spooky as the historic above-ground tombs in the city’s cemeteries, which are sometimes made to seem more macabre than they really are. Here’s a look at how New Orleans’s famous “Cities of the Dead” came to be so alluring and unique.

Why Are New Orleans Tombs Above the Ground?

Several areas in New Orleans sit below sea level, and it’s widely believed that the sole reason the tombs in the city are built above-ground because burying the dead underground could cause coffins to float away during one of the city’s frequent floods. While this certainly was an issue, another likely reason for New Orleans’s above-ground crypts is more historical in origin. Many of the settlers of New Orleans came from France and Spain, where there was already a long tradition of burying the dead in above-ground tombs.

Are the Cemeteries Connected to Voodoo?

Cemetery tours in the city often include a visit to the tomb of Marie Laveau, a well-known practitioner of Voodoo in the 1800s and the most famous “resident” of any New Orleans cemetery. No one is completely sure if Laveau’s remains really lie within her often-visited tomb, but her legend is just one of the many ghost stories that draw thrill-seekers to the city’s graveyards. However, visitors are not very likely to encounter any Voodoo rituals during a trip to one of the old cemeteries, and Louisiana Voodoo itself is often misrepresented as being dark and dangerous.

Ghosts or no ghosts, exploring the Cities of the Dead in New Orleans is a great way to get a unique, up-close look at the city’s rich history and fascinating past residents. Joieful offers easy access to city and cemetery tours, plus a variety of other famous New Orleans attractions. Connect with one of our experts to purchase your New Orleans experience today.