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From Pyramids to Palaces: Mind-Blowing Mausoleums That Will Astound You

A mausoleum is a free-standing building constructed as a monument containing interment space or burial chamber.

What Is a Mausoleum?

A mausoleum is a free-standing building constructed as a monument containing interment space or burial chamber. They are typically made of stone, such as granite or marble, and designed to withstand the elements. Mausoleums offer secure areas for individuals and families, where high water tables prevent ground burial and protect from vandals.

For centuries, the honor of a mausoleum for a final resting place was limited to royalty, military commanders, and heads of state. Here are a few examples of the world’s most incredible mausoleums.

Taj Mahal: Located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India 

Arguably one of the most famous structures on Earth, the Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to immortalize his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth in 1631. A massive, shimmering monument of white marble, it took 22 years and over 22,000 laborers to build. The mausoleum’s name comes from the Persian, meaning “Crown of the Palace.”

The Taj Mahal complex is situated on the southern bank of the Yamuna River and consists of several buildings, including the main mausoleum, a mosque, a guesthouse, and lush gardens. The mausoleum is the central structure built entirely of white marble. It features a large dome flanked by four smaller domes at its corners. The exterior of the Taj Mahal is adorned with intricate inlay work made from semi-precious stones, forming geometric patterns, calligraphy, and floral motifs.

King Tut’s Tomb: Valley of the Kings, Egypt

King Tut's tomb and discovery hold great historical and archaeological significance despite his relatively short reign.

The tomb of King Tutankhamun, located in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, was discovered by renowned archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. King Tutankhamun, commonly known as King Tut, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh who ruled between 1334 and 1325 BCE. He ascended to the throne at a young age and died unexpectedly around the age of 19.

Unlike many other tombs in the Valley of the Kings, which had been looted over the centuries, King Tut's tomb was found largely intact. The tomb contained a vast array of precious artifacts, including furniture, jewelry, chariots, statues, and even the famous golden burial mask of King Tut.

Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery: Glendale, California

The Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn is a grand and imposing building resembling a European cathedral. It is famous for its stunning architecture, stained glass windows, and ornate mosaics. Constructed in 1917, the mausoleum consists of multiple sections and galleries, each offering a unique and elegant final resting place.

Among the many celebrities entombed within are Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, W.C. Fields, Jean Harlow, Gutzon Borglum (the sculptor of Mount Rushmore), and Michael Jackson.

One of the most notable features of the Great Mausoleum is the Court of Honor, home to a replica of Michelangelo’s David, stained glass windows, ornate mosaics, and numerous crypts.

Humayun’s Tomb: Delhi, India

Humayun's Tomb is a renowned historical site and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It is often called the "dormitory of the Mughals" because it houses the tombs of over 150 Mughal family members.

Commissioned in 1558 by Empress Bega Begum, the first wife and chief consort of Emperor Humayun, the tomb was designed by Persian architects Mirak Mirza Ghiyas and his son, Sayyid Muhammad. The architectural style of the tomb is Mughal, characterized by intricate details, symmetry, and the predominant use of red sandstone. Humayun's Tomb is approximately 154 feet high and 298 feet wide, showcasing the mastery of Persian architectural techniques and elements.

Tomb of Georges Rodenbach: Paris, France

Georges Rodenbach was a 19th-century Belgian writer of tragic and sometimes melodramatic novels. Perhaps that is why his tomb, designed by French sculptor Charlotte Dubray, is so striking. A larger-than-life bronze statue of Rodenbach emerges from his tomb, clasping a single rose in his hand.

Located in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, Rodenbach’s resting place is now more well-known than his best-known work, a heartbreaking story of a widower struggling to cope with grief after his wife dies.

Lincoln's Tomb: Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln’s Tomb is the final resting place of President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most visited historic sites in the state.

The mausoleum was designed by architect Larkin G. Mead and was constructed between 1869 and 1874. The exterior features a rectangular base with a 117-foot-tall obelisk rising from its center. The granite obelisk symbolizes Lincoln’s enduring presence in American history.

Visitors can explore the tomb’s interior, adorned with murals depicting scenes from Lincoln’s life, including his famous Gettysburg Address. At the entrance to Lincoln’s Tomb is a bronze bust of America’s 16th president. Visitors from around the world pause their visit to rub the nose of the statue for good luck.

Nicholas Cage’s Pyramid Mausoleum: New Orleans, Louisiana

In 2010, actor Nicolas Cage purchased two plots in the St. Louis Cemetery to construct a personal mausoleum. The nine-foot-tall stone pyramid, made from white stone, stands in obvious contrast to the other above-ground burial sites in the 200-year-old century.

At the top of the pyramid is the Latin maxim, “Omnia Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything From One.”

Blue Sky Mausoleum: Buffalo, New York

The Blue Sky Mausoleum is a unique architectural structure within Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. Celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed it as a tribute to his close friend and supporter, Darwin D. Martin.

The mausoleum’s name comes from its signature feature: a striking blue glass ceiling representing a serene sky. The design aims to create a peaceful and contemplative atmosphere within the space. The glass allows natural light to filter into the interior, creating an ethereal effect and changing the colors and mood depending on the time of day and weather conditions.

What Mausoleums Offer

You do not have to be a celebrity or former president to choose a mausoleum for your final resting place. Today’s mausoleum designers and manufacturers offer various options, styles, prices, and customization options.

Benefits of a mausoleum:

  • Personalized final resting place
  • Dignified and traditional burial space
  • Comfortable, climate-controlled visitation area
  • Private and family mausoleums offer complete privacy 
  • Removes risk of water, soil, and other natural intrusions
  • Keeps generations of family together

If you want to learn more about mausoleums as a final resting place, please contact a nearby Afterall location. Our preplanning specialists are here to help you understand all your options.

For more helpful information on permanent memorialization, take a look at our article: From Headstones to Gemstones, a Guide to Permanent Memorials.