Top 10 tombs and museums dedicated to death and the afterlife

WESTMINSTER ABBEY, LONDON

If like the character in The Sixth Sense we could see dead people, Westminster Abbey would be quite the social occasion. It contains the tombs of notable Britons (especially poets, scientists and statesmen) and 17 monarchs, including Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Isaac Newton's tomb features prominently in The Da Vinci Code. The Henry VII Chapel is a glorious example of religious English architecture. See westminster-abbey.org

MUMMIFICATION MUSEUM, LUXOR

Built into the Nile embankment along the Corniche and presided over by a statue of jackal-headed god Anubis, this small but fascinating museum guides visitors through the rituals, believes and gruesome physical processes of mummification. It contains painted coffins, a funerary boat and the remains of mummified reptiles, birds, cats and even a fish, as well as the mummy of an ancient Egyptian priest called Maserharti. See sca-egypt.org

MEMORIAL HALL OF CHAIRMAN MAO, BEIJING

Mao died in 1976 and his embalmed body lies in a glass sarcophagus inside a granite-clad mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. He wears one of the blue Mao tunics once so ubiquitous in China, and has a rather orange face. Visitors are more lively than reverent and are hurried through by white-gloved guards. The visit finishes in a shop offering a bemusing array of Mao kitsch. See visitbeijing.com.cn

SHRINES, ASPEN

The first mountain shrines at this Colorado ski resort appeared in the 1970s, hidden among the trees just off the runs; ask ski instructors for locations. They celebrate mostly dead pop celebrities from Elvis to Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix to Michael Jackson, and consist of photos, magazine pages, Mardi Gras beads, whiskey bottles and other assorted memorabilia. The best shrine might be to Jerry Garcia off Ruthie's Run. See aspensnowmass.com

LENIN'S MAUSOLEUM, MOSCOW

Lenin kicked off the fashion for embalmed dictators, although his tomb is now almost overlooked in a corner of Red Square. Blood-red stonework, guards lurking in shadows and a dark crypt provide a suitable Soviet-era frisson. Spot-lit Lenin lies in a dapper pin-striped suit and tie, goatee neatly trimmed. Yuri Gagarin is buried in the Kremlin wall behind Lenin's tomb, along with other famous faded Soviets. See visitrussia.org.uk

CATACOMBS, PARIS

Six million skeletons were moved beneath Paris at the end of the 18th century from overcrowded cemeteries. Pass through dimly lit passageways carved out of the rock bed and see piles of bones and skulls, some arranged into neat piles and patterns. Entertaining stories unnerve, such as the one about the fellow who got lost here in the 19th century and was only identified a decade later by his keys. See parisinfo.com

SEDLEC OSSUARY, KUNTA HORA

This Czech Republic chapel in the crypt of the Cemetery Church of All Saints is quite the spectacle, housing the bones of thousands of 14th-century plague victims, imaginatively arranged in the 1870s into artistic patterns, coats-of-arms and festive garlands of grinning skulls. Other bones have been used to create furniture, candelabras and chandeliers; the central chandelier is said to contain every bone in the human body. See kostnice.cz

TOLLUND MAN, SILKEBORG

​If you're keen to know what you'd look like after 2350-odd years of lying in a Danish bog, head to the Silkeborg Museum and its leathery Tollund Man, so well preserved you can see his chin stubble and reddish hair, which peeps out from a sheepskin cap. The ancient Dane was likely a sacrificial or murder victim, since he has a leather noose around his neck. See museumsilkeborg.dk

ICE MAN, BOLZANO

​Even older than Tollund Man is the fellow nicknamed Otzi, murdered crossing the Alps some 5300 years ago and preserved – along with his clothes and equipment, including a copper axe – in glacial ice. You can see him through the small window of a freezer at South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in northern Italy. An exhibition tells the fascinating tale of his discovery and its revelations about Neolithic life. See iceman.it

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RECOLETA CEMETERY, BUENOS AIRES

This posh 1822 cemetery was established for eminent Argentine citizens, notably Eva "Evita" Peron, whose black-granite vault is usually piled with flowers. There are thousands of tombs, some listed as national monuments and many opulent. Every corner of the cemetery oozes bronze plaques and statues of saints. Cats prowl among the tombstones, soaking up the heat of marble inscriptions. Occasional guided tours in English are informative. See turismo.buenosaires.gob.ar

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