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5 cemeteries where you can explore Atlanta's Southern Gothic history

Explore the history and mystery of these cultural landmark cemeteries.

Marietta Cemetery Magnum
Photo credit: Joeff Davis

Pop culture has given cemeteries a bad rap. But the horrific anxiety only reflects how misunderstood death is by the living. We should follow the lead of indigenous Americans, who considered burial grounds sacred space — more spiritual than spooky. If you’re looking to commune with eternity there’s no better place to do it. Especially in Atlanta, where our grandest cemeteries double as haunts for immersive arts events and the historic gravesites of inspiring icons — from Old South storytellers Margaret Mitchell and Joel Chandler Harris to New South architects Henry Grady and Martin Luther King Jr. In a city known for disavowing its history, this is one place not even Atlanta can turn its back on. Plus, there’s nothing like losing yourself among craggy old tombstones etched with the names of the dispossessed to get your groove back.

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The 58-acre cemetery located just off Decatur's town square is the oldest known publicly owned burial ground in metro Atlanta. With more than 20,000 grave sites, it's even thought to pre-date Decatur's 1823 incorporation. The gazebo, built in 1881, has recently been restored. The Decatur Preservatio... | more...

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Located on 23 acres, the national cemetery was established in 1866 to provide a resting place for more than 10,000 Union soldiers killed during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. Today, it holds nearly 18,000 graves. | more...

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This strip of destinations along Auburn Avenue provides a variety of ways to learn about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy. At the birth home, tour guides give insights into King's younger years and the discipline that led to his success as a speaker and scholar. At the King Center, ... | more...

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Atlanta's most historic and picturesque cemetery holds the remains of Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones, once-enslaved individuals, and nearly 7,000 Confederate soldiers. | more...

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By far the city's largest, this sprawling cemetery dates back to 1884 and contains tombs for such notables as Joel Chandler Harris, Henry Grady, and Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler. Tidier and more orderly than Oakland, Westview is marked by stunning architecture, from its medieval-looking entrance to... | more...

 



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