Although not a museum per se, Cimitero Acattolico should definitely constitute as one. This cemetery, located just metres away from the Pyramid of Cestius in Testaccio, Rome houses the highest concentration of the graves of famous people the world over.
Upon entering the Non-Catholic/protestant cemetery’s gates, it is evident that this is a spooky, mystical place. The success of those buried there almost hangs in the air. And if you’re a spiritual, creative person, you’re guaranteed to feel it.
And no tombstone at the Non-Catholic cemetery is alike. Each is different and kept in a unique manner to the one next to it.
At Cimitero Acattolico you can discover the tombstones of many famous creative folk who lived decades and centuries ago. Notable names include Richard Wyatt, Percy Shelley, Joseph Severn, P.A. Munch, John Keats and many more. You can find a full list of names here.
There are scholars, painters, writers and politicians buried within the gates of the protestant cemetery in Rome. The cemetery has even attracted writers from all over the world who made (and who still continue to make) a pilgrimage there. Oscar Wilde once visited Cimitero Acattolico and stated that it is by far the holiest place in Rome.
Although the burial ground is called the Protestant cemetery or Non-Catholic cemetery, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and other non-Christians are buried within its perimeter. And as a result, this is what makes this cemetery unlike any other in the world – a real gem of cultural, historic and spiritual significance. In fact, there are more than fifteen languages represented amongst the dead buried here.
Each tombstone is a shrine in its own right – a true work of art, still very much preserved and respected. Many are beautiful and detailed, complete with poetry and prose in a variety of languages.
What I found most pleasing at the Non-Catholic cemetery in Rome is the fact that I could stroll around quietly, or sit on a bench and write and watch the odd passerby. If you’re a lover of classic texts and if you appreciate creative and historical figures, then be sure to visit Cimitero Acattolico, even if just for a short stroll.
Lastly, if you’re making the trip to visit this unusual cemetery, be sure to visit the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, a tomb dating from between the 18 to 12 century BC. Another important site to see in the area is the Aurelian wall, right near the pyramid. The Emperor Aurelian constructed these walls in order to defend the city from barbarians between 271 and 275 AD – they are massive and very impressive.