How different countries around the world house and honour their heroes

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King Tutankhamun

Valley of the Kings, Egypt

King Tut’s tomb lay untouched for 3,000 years until British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered it in 1922. It was almost intact – the best-preserved tomb in
the Valley of the Kings.

The focus of mass tourism, combined with the humidity and dust, left the tomb of the Boy King in a sad state. So in 2009, a conservation effort began to restore it and it’s now equipped with an air filtration system, barriers, viewing platform and the wall paintings have been restored.

Meanwhile, Cairo’s much-delayed Grand Egyptian Museum (a replacement for the century-old Egyptian Museum) is finally set to open in April next year and will feature the tomb’s treasures including 
the death mask, displayed in the exact order Carter found them.

Princess Diana

Althorp Estate, Northamptonshire

Diana’s tragic death in 1997 prompted thousands of mourners to travel to Buckingham Palace to pay tribute to 
the “people’s princess”.

But, fittingly, for someone who lived most of their adult life in the spotlight, her final resting place is out of sight, on a tranquil island in the Oval Lake at Althorp House, her childhood home which has been in the Spencer family 
for 19 generations.

Few are allowed to set foot on the island, but well-wishers are permitted to visit the memorial temple beside the lake. 

MumtaZ Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

By the orders of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, this white marble mausoleum was built to house the remains of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631.

Constructed between 1632 and 1653, the architectural masterpiece, with its spectacular 115ft marble dome built over the tomb, is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

According to the Black Taj myth, Jahan, who was obsessed by symmetry, had intended to build a mirror-image of the monument for himself, albeit in black, on the other side of the Yamuna River and connect the two by a bridge. 

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Moscow, Russia

Located in Moscow’s Red Square, Vladimir Lenin’s Mausoleum is one of Russia’s most popular, yet controversial, tourist attractions.

In his will, Lenin, inset, requested he be buried, and while the Russian government planned to carry out his wishes, the grieving public wouldn’t have it, apparently sending 10,000 telegrams pleading for their great leader to be preserved for generations to come.


They got their way and visitors still form long queues to enter the dimly lit memorial hall to view the Russian revolutionary, frozen in time for more than 90 years in the glass sarcophagus.

The modern mummy is lit with soft, warm light to make it appear more lifelike and temperatures are kept at a constant 16 degrees.

Every week, a mild bleach is applied to fight the fungus growing over his skin. Every 18 months, his clothes are carefully washed and ironed.  


Mao Zedong

Beijing, China

Chairman Mao’s embalmed corpse lies on public display in a crystal cabinet, draped in a red flag emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, inside a memorial hall in Tiananmen Square.

The founder of the People’s Republic of China, left, known for his communist theories and who died in 1976, had requested cremation, but officials, as well as his widow, decided he would join the likes of Lenin in being embalmed and exhibited.

There is always a lengthy queue to see him in his final resting place.

Although the line may seem impossibly long, it is continually moving as guards in white gloves wave visitors through, forbidding them to stop inside the hall. 


Napoleon Bonaparte

Hotel des Invalides, Paris

An extract from Napoleon’s will reads: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine among the people of France whom I so much loved.”

The first emperor of France got his wish and can be visited in the Hotel des Invalides, in the heart of Paris’s 7th arrondissement, which was built by Louis XIV in 1670 to provide accommodation for wounded soldiers.

Napoleon had visited troops here and, in 1840, a tomb was built in the chapel to house his remains.

Forty years later, after excavation work, he was finally laid to rest in the towering Dome Church in a red sarcophagus in the circular crypt.

The mosaic floor it stands upon shows episodes from Napoleon’s reign. 

Bob Marley

Nine Mile, Jamaica

When Jamaica’s most famous son was lost to cancer in 1981 aged 36, a mausoleum was erected just a few feet from his childhood home in Nine Mile in the mountains of St Ann. He was buried with his favourite red guitar in a simple marble tomb.

A tour takes visitors through the house where they get to stand on “Mount Zion Rock” where Bob, left, used to meditate, and of course, there’s also a reggae-themed gift shop.

In 1991, the Jamaican government declared the singer’s birthday, February 6, a national holiday, and since then fans have gathered for an annual music festival near his grave. 


Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde

Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris

Being buried alongside some of the world’s greatest writers such as Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust and Honore de Balzac in the Pere Lachaise cemetery would have pleased Jim Morrison greatly.

The charismatic frontman of The Doors, who died in a bathtub, aged 27, was a prolific reader, his songs heavily influenced by poets and philosophers.


Finding Morrison’s grave can be quite tricky among the alleyways of tombs here (he’s in Division 6) – and it wasn’t until 10 years after his death that a proper headstone was installed. The bust was stolen in 1988. The grave was renovated and the headstone removed in 1990. Following defacement over time, barricades were erected in 2004.  

Oscar Wilde’s grave has had its fair share of controversy, too. It features a winged male figure whose exposed genitals were covered by a fig leaf after complaints. 

The grave is also covered in lipstick kisses, a ritual started in the 1990s and frowned upon because of the damage caused cleaning them off.

There’s now a €9,000 fine if you’re caught puckering up to the Irish poet and playwright. 

Christopher Columbus

Seville, Spain

Seville’s gothic cathedral houses the ornate tomb of Christopher Columbus, inset right, who was reinterred there in 1898. However, Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, also claims to hold the explorer’s remains and, 500 years after his death, there’s still debate over his exact burial spot.

His body began its final rest in Valladolid, Spain, where he died in 1506, before it was moved to Seville by order of his brother. In 1541, his remains were then transferred to the Cathedral of Santa Maria in the Dominican Republic.


When Spain lost control of the Dominican Republic in 1795, they were moved to Havana, Cuba.

One hundred years later, they made their final voyage back to Seville cathedral. However, in 1877, a box of bones was discovered in Santo Domingo inscribed with: “The illustrious and excellent man, Don Colon, Admiral of the Ocean Sea”.

Despite DNA tests of the remains in Seville, the mystery is unsolved or completely resolved, depending  on whom you ask.

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