Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Built in 1833 and ripe with ghost stories and the graves of notable New Orleans residents, this Garden District graveyard serves as the final resting place for more than 7,000 people. The cemetery gets its name from the old city of Lafayette, now part of New Orleans.
Lafayette Cemetery is one of the most popular historic sites in New Orleans, and it is frequently featured on area sightseeing tours. Visit the cemetery as part of a walking tour of the Garden District, or take a deeper dive into the cemetery’s history on a dedicated tour with a guide who’ll cover everything from burial procedures to notable ghost stories.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The cemetery is free and open to the public.
- Plan to spend about 90 minutes touring the cemetery grounds.
- The cemetery grounds are accessible to wheelchairs, though some of the terrain is uneven.
How to Get There
Lafayette Cemetery is on Washington Avenue in the Garden District. You can get there by taking the St. Charles Streetcar to Washington Street stop. From there it’s a short walk to the cemetery.
When to Get There
The cemetery is open on weekdays from morning until early afternoon and on weekends from morning until noon. It’s a popular attraction, so visit early in the day to avoid crowds.
The History of Aboveground Cemeteries
Many parts of the city of New Orleans sit below sea level, so early settlers to the area had trouble with the bodies of their recently interned washing away during the summer rains. The settlers quickly learned that the only way to properly keep their dead in place was to build raised cemeteries, and this form of internment became a New Orleans tradition.