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Attractions Across Virginia

Old City Cemetery

Visiting a cemetery is never really a pleasant outing, but the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia is an entirely different experience when it comes to graveyards.

If you are interested in gardening, history, botany, or just finding peace and solitude, the Old City Cemetery might prove to be one of the more interesting and unique places you’ll visit in Central Virginia.

For starters, there’s a lot of life in this cemetery (irony and pun both intended). The flowers and general horticulture and landscaping are noteworthy. When the cemetery first opened, it was common to plant a portion of a plant or shrub from the family homeplace near a grave, or a rosebush from your grandmother’s favorite variety of roses. Many of the trees and shrubs that were placed into the ground way back when are still flourishing today.

On top of that, over 200 species of antique roses bloom in the cemetery. The middle of May is supposed to be the prime time for seeing these beauties in blossom. Visitors can also enjoy the butterfly garden, the lotus pond, and old-fashioned shrub garden. The OCC sponsors a bird walk each Memorial Day for local and visiting naturalists.

History buffs will appreciate the vast amount of both Confederate and Union graves—there are over two thousand of them here. This was the first and only public cemetery for African-Americans in Virginia for quite some times.

Several historical museums and centers are on the premises, including the Pest House Medical Museum, and an antique hearse collection. There is a chapel here that can be used for meditation, wedding services, and funerals, as well as a scatter garden for scattering the ashes of a loved one.

The Old City Cemetery provides a number of interesting guided tours, such as “The Life and Lore of Lynchburg’s Bawdy Ladies, ” “The Hearse House and The Cemetery Caretaker’s Museum,” and “Calamities and Catastrophes in Lynchburg’s Local History.” Tours are available by appointment and may need to be scheduled as much as two weeks in advance.

This Virginia Historic Landmark is in the National Registry of Historic Places and is known as the oldest public cemetery that is still in use today.

Hours and Location

Hours: Daily, from dawn to dusk
Location: Lynchburg
Address: 401 Taylor Street, 24501
Telephone: 434-847-1465
Web site: www.gravegarden.org
Cost: Free; guided tours cost $3/adults and $2/children
Latitude: 37.413630
Longitude: -79.155310

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