Key West Cemetery –
Enchanting cemetery, with humorous epitaphs, and above-ground caskets. Memorial spot also pays tribute to those who died when U.S. Battleship Maine sank in Havana harbor in 1898. You can stroll through or take a tour.
Key West Cemetery
The Key West Cemetery is considered worthy of visiting because it offers a slice of history and authenticity and because it’s one of the most unusual cemetaries you or I will ever visit. Just as quirky as the rest of Key West, the cemetary has unusual epitaphs, unique headstones, original sculptures, spooky statues, all set amongst winding pathways and whitewashed tombs. The graves are set above ground because the “land” here is actually coral rock and pretty much impenatrable as far as grave diggers are concerned. The water table is also high, so burying bodies underground is a vary bad idea. Consequently, the graves are actually vaults and although there are no hills and very few trees, this graveyard has a certain three dimensional quality to it because of the varying heights of the vaults, sculptures, and other accoutrements you’ll find if you tour the site. It’s rather like a small city skyline if you look at it from the right angle. Some plots have elaborate housing for the dead, some have sone representations of who is buried there, like the one with the red bi-plane on top. The underlying coral rock is not hospitable to trees, so the only realy trees are the ones lining the main walkway through the graveyard. Otherwise, some people have planted shrubs or flowering plants and vines.
This unique graveyard which no longer accepts new “residents” was first located near the lighthouse in Key West, but a hurricane put an end to that location. After being moved further inland in hopes of preventing more upset graves, the graveyard grew to hold 70,000 people, which is way more people that actually live in the City of Key West today. This city of the dead is about three times larger than the living city that surrounds it.
You can stroll through Key West Cemetery yourself at your own pace, observing the plots, or you can take a tour of the grounds for about ten dollars. The gates are open surise to sunset and the tour leaves from the gate at the end of Margaret Street.