Cities of the
Dead and Vampire Tales: New Orleans, Louisiana
centuries-old, above ground cemeteries of New Orleans, are icons to an
earlier time. These hauntingly beautiful cities of the dead came into
existence due to the unusually high water table under the old city.
The soggy earth made under ground burial impossible before modern drainage
systems were devised.
On dark stormy nights it was not uncommon for caskets to literally pop out
of the ground and float down the streets. Of course, this was quite
unsettling for the residents, and after a few unpleasant incidences of the
dead floating by their homes, above ground burial was agreed to as the only
secure sane solution.
These eerily beautiful and unique cemeteries have also served as an
to numerous film producers and authors of the macabre. For example,
Anne Rice one of New Orleans' more famous resident authors, in crafting her
haunting, gothic horror stories of vampires and the undead. Interview
With The Vampire, The Vampire Chronicles, a spellbinding screen adaptation
of Anne Rices best seller, was filmed with Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 as the
backdrop. This ornate gothic necropolis figures prominently in Annes
other books, as the macabre refuge of the vampire Lestat.
Louis Cemetery No. 1
In the famous
old city of New Orleans, just outside the colorful and infamous French
Quarter lies a crumbling ancient cemetery with a eerie notoriety of its
own. This cemetery is well known for mysterious happenings and vaporous
apparitions, it is also the final resting place of Marie Laveau
(1794-1881), otherwise known as the "Voodoo Queen of New
conventional cemeteries that are laid out as neat rows in grid like
patterns, the St. Louis No. 1 is a unique, twisting labyrinth of narrow
walkways. These narrow footpaths wind their way through serenely beautiful
marble mausoleums, massive wall vaults, and dilapidated unmarked tombs.
Walking through this ancient necropolis in the wee hours of the morning
can be an unnerving and eerie experience, in fact many visitors have
reported strange encounters with the spectral inhabitants of the
1881, an apparition of the Voodoo Priestess, Marie Laveau, has
materialized many times in the narrow passages of the cemetery. Her tomb
has become a shrine to those interested in Voodoo or the occult. In the
cover of darkness, practitioners perform secret Voodoo rituals.
Practitioners often leave small offerings, scratching three Xs with a
piece of soft red brick on the crypt and knocking three times on the wall
of the tomb; believers do this to request special
favors or invoke spells.
Marie Laveau was said to have been well over 100 years old when she died,
yet she was reported to have been as beautiful and vibrant as any 25 year
old woman. It can only be assumed that her devotion to the practice
of Voodoo held the secret to her eternal beauty. Perhaps it is the pursuit of
this enduring youth and beauty that
compels the Voodoo practitioners to pay homage to Marie Laveau to this
numerous unmarked and crumbling tombs within the necropolis, unexplained
phenomena seems to be common place. Strange mournful sounds emanating from
the cavernous crypts and inexplicable glowing vaporous masses have
startled countless numbers of people wandering the ancient cemetery. In
one area of the cemetery, the ghostly image of a mans face frequently
appears on the wall of a tomb, as if he is looking out from someplace on
the other side of reality.
St. Louis cemetery No. 1 is the oldest surviving necropolis in New
Orleans, it is a preservation project of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, defacing or marking the tombs such as described above is
considered vandalism and could result in fines or your arrest.
better judgment; dont do it.
by: Dr. Von Zuko 1998