Get a Taste of Savannah History at the Bonaventure Cemetery

Beautiful Savannah is a history-lover's haven: Famous British philanthropist and social reformer James Oglethorpe founded the city in 1733 as the first city in the colony of Georgia, named for King George II of England. The city is also America's first planned city, and was laid out into grids and 24 original squares (22 of which remain) by Oglethorpe himself. Visitors will find that history is alive in this charming city, manifested in Savannah B&B Inns and row houses, cobblestone streets and the elegant fountain in Forsyth Park. Looking for a more unique representation of the city’s history? All will enjoy the expansive, intricate and majestic cemeteries. Though cemeteries are definitely off the beaten path, you shouldn't miss the historic and beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

This cemetery is famous for being featured in - and on the cover of - John Berendt's bestselling novel "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," but it seems this beautiful and peaceful graveyard has served as inspiration for people since its founding in the mid-1800s.

Playwright Oscar Wilde performed at the Savannah Theater in the 1870s and, writing about a visit to Bonaventure, described it as "incomparable." Founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, camped in Bonaventure during a 1,000 mile walk from Louisville to Cedar Key, Florida in 1867. In his book about his famous walk, he raved out Bonaventure:

"[It is] one of the most impressive assemblages of animal and plant creatures I have ever met … the few graves are powerless in such depth of life … The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm undisturbed grandeur of the the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord's most favored abodes of life and death."

If you're now compelled to see this peaceful place, it's open every day to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the visitors' center is open until 4 p.m. On the second Sunday of every month, the Bonaventure Historical Society gives tours at 2, 2:30 and 3 p.m. If you take a walk on your own, visit the Holocaust Monument to pay tribute to its victims, as the ashes of 344 victims are buried here. Also, visit the very lifelike yet haunting statues of Little Gracie and Corinne, a few of Bonaventure's legendary inhabitants who have spurred many of the city’s ghost stories.