After Life: the world's most expensive graves

Maria Sergeeva
February 15, 2018

If only a place itself in some cemeteries will cost you a fortune, sometimes much more than your house, you can imagine what will be the final amount for a luxurious final permanent state.  Don't expect prices to come down. Though technically real estate, unrelenting demand helps cemeteries avoid the kind of market swings afflicting housing right now.

Tomb of Newgrange (Estimated Cost: $1.5 million)

Believed to be built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, The tomb of New Grange turns out to be older than Stonehenge and even  the Egyptian pyramids. This is one of the very few surviving Neolithic period buildings in the world. It is located in the Boyne Valley, Ireland. Being part of a large complex of monuments built along a bend of the River Boyne, the tomb tells a story about the Neolithic farming community.

The tomb is actually a passage to chambers underneath a 85-meter-of-diameter mound. It is where the community buried its deceased ones, some had been cremated. Newgrange is impressive: the circular mound is 250 feet (76 m) across and 40 feet (12 m) high. A long tunnel under the mound leads to a high-domed burial chamber, a corbelled vault with ceilings made of huge, interlocking stone slabs.

And according to local history, it is not just a simple burial. It actually housed the spirits of the ancestors, this is why not only human bones but also all possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers.

Actually, this 13.5-meter-high tomb is basically made of stones. Most of them are engraved with Megalithic art of Ancient Ireland. To build the same mound from the same engraved stones, the estimated cost is $1.5 million.

Shrine of Baha’u’llah (Estimated Cost: $1 million)

Baha’u’llah was the founder of one of the most powerful religions in the world, Baha’i. He died in 1892 in Mansion of Bahji. Located in Bahjí near Acre, Israel, his tomb is the most holy place for Bahá'ís and represents their Qiblih, or direction of prayer. His remains were buried in a small room near the Mansion. It is surrounded by gardens and Persian-rugs-covered paths.

The tomb of Baha’u’llah lies in the northwest corner of this holy place. The central area itself is functioned as accommodation to pilgrims and visitors.

In the 1950s, Shoghi Effendi had made plans for a future superstructure, which would surround the whole area and would include a platform with 95 marble columns, each 6 meters high. Today, the Shrine consists of a light-filled, central room, striking in its simplicity and beauty. A garden stands in the middle of the room, which is surrounded by smaller rooms. In one corner of the central room is the chamber where Bahá’u’lláh’s remains are laid to rest.  The shrine and its surrounding gardens, as well as the Mansion of Bahjí, was inscribed on the World Heritage List. The official price of the tomb has never been announced, but its estimated building cost is around $1 million.

Mao Zedong’s Crystal Coffin (Estimated Cost: $500,000)

Mao Zedong was a Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. He died in 1945 and soon after his death, the country built a mausoleum for his final resting place. His body was embalmed to preserve in spite of his wish to be cremated. Mao Zedong’s tomb is still popular with pilgrims.

His body now is displayed in a mausoleum in the middle of Tienanmen Square, Beijing. The country claimed that it is indeed his preserved body. However, skeptics are persuaded that it is just his wax sculpture.

As the mausoleum is open for public you can go there to form your own opinion. Every day, large groups of tourists and pilgrims form long snake curved lines moving along to enter the Memorial Hall. Private tours are also available to bypass the long queue and enter the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall without waiting too much.

The making of this casket itself took a lot of effort. In fact, the developing project was distributed all over China back then. The design of the 608th factory was chosen after surviving several environmental tests. This crystal coffin and its surrounding only were estimated to take up to $500,000 in its process of making.

Lenin's Mausoleum

Situated in Red Square in the center of Moscow, Lenin's Mausoleum is another famous resting place of a state leader, Soviet, this time, open to the public. Vladimir Lenin’s preserved body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924, with rare exceptions in wartime. Aleksey Shchusev's diminutive but monumental granite structure incorporates some elements from ancient mausoleums, such as the Step Pyramid, the Tomb of Cyrus the Great and, to some degree, Temple of the Inscriptions.

Since 1991, there has been some discussion about removing the Kremlin Wall Necropolis and burying Lenin's body. There is no information available in open sources concerning the price of Linin’s Tomb but the annual cost of maintaining the body of former Soviet leader in the mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square is estimated at 13 million rubles ($197,000) for 2016. This amount of money is required to ensure medical and biological works to maintain Lenin's body.

Tana Toraja

The Toraja people in Sulawesi, Indonesia, have what is probably the most complex funeral ritual in the world. When someone dies, the funeral is attended by a lot of people and can last for days! But that's not the strange part - this is: the funeral ceremony is often held weeks, months, or even years after the death (to give the family of the deceased time to raise enough money for expenses).

Torajans can wait that long because they believe that death is not a sudden event but instead a gradual process towards the afterlife (if you're wondering about the smell - the dead body is embalmed within the first few days of death, then stored in a secret place until the funeral ceremony).

After much partying (including the slaughter of one or several water buffaloes), the dead is buried in a stone cave carved out of a rocky cliff. A wood-carved effigy called tau tau, carved with the likeness of the dead person is then placed in the balcony of the tomb to represent the dead and watch over their remains.

Sometimes, it’s not about marble statues or thousands  of pilgrims, it’s all about the interior.

Look carefully, and you could even notice that there is a flat screen TV and also a DVD player.