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Many individuals may think mausoleums are only for national leaders or ancient rulers, however they are commonly used in the United States. Mausoleums can be very large and ornate or simple and for only one person. Below we explain how much a mausoleum costs on average, the history of their use, what considerations you should make before deciding whether a mausoleum is right for you, as well as a list of some of the most famous mausoleums throughout history.
What is a Mausoleum?
A mausoleum is a free-standing building or structure built as a monument for the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased individual or for their family. According to Wikipedia, a mausoleum may be considered a tomb, or the tomb may be considered the inner part of the mausoleum.
A mausoleum is different than a cenotaph, which is a monument without the interment or tomb. Most commonly a cenotaph commemorates those who fought in a war.
History of the Mausoleum
The word Mausoleum comes from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which served as the grave of King Mausolus, the Persian satrap of Caria, which was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Pre-Christian Romans used mausoleums to entomb nobility and gentry, especially along roadways, however, this practice fell out of use as the Roman empire converted to Christianity. However, the practice of building mausoleums came back into practice in more modern times.
Today there are mausoleums and crypts the world over, built from ancient times through to the modern age. Some would consider the presidential libraries to be mausoleums. You will likely see smaller mausoleums in cemeteries across the world. Some cemeteries are famous for their mausoleums and are tourist sites in their own right.
Modern Uses of Mausoleums
While the world’s most famous mausoleums (see below) were built for royalty centuries (or even millennia) ago, there are mausoleums in use and being built today. Some of the most famous modern mausoleums can be found in Argentine and European cemeteries. However, they are in use throughout the United States, including community mausoleums. A mausoleum can be built for yourself in a cemetery or your whole family, meaning you will need more room or a burial chamber constructed below the structure itself. Another option is to buy space within a preconstructed mausoleum in a cemetery, these are usually referred to as community mausoleums and are generally used in cemeteries of a specific faith and religion.
Choosing a Mausoleum
The type of mausoleum you choose depends on a number of factors. Do you want to have a traditional burial or be cremated? If you wish to have a traditional burial you will need a burial chamber below the structure for the burial plots (the number of burial plots will be dependant on the next question). You will need to decide whether the mausoleum will be for your whole family (a family mausoleum) or for only yourself (a private mausoleum). You will also have to take into consideration what kind of cemetery and any rules that may restrict the kind or type of mausoleum you wish to be buried or entombed in.
You may want to speak with a funeral home director, especially if they have a cemetery attached to the funeral home which they also operate. They will be able to give you significant insight into the process of choosing a mausoleum and the timeline for having one constructed.
How Much Does a Mausoleum Cost?
The answer depends. Modern mausoleums can be incredibly expensive. Depending on how big and ornate it is, along with the relative value of the land can significantly impact the overall price. We have seen pricing from $4,000 to $1,000,000. However, the most common price of a mausoleum ranges from $15,000 to $30,000. For more information you should consider the following:
- Will this for yourself only (a single crypt) or for both you and your spouse or the whole extended family?
- How ornate and large do you want the structure itself?
- Will there be a burial chamber below the structure or will urns be interred on shelving within the structure?
- Will this be a standalone outdoor mausoleum or part of a larger community mausoleum?
- The material and location of the mausoleum.
By answering the questions above you will have a better idea of what type of mausoleum you would like and therefore have a better idea of the cost when the time comes to make a decision or speak with an expert.
Pros and Cons of Building a Mausoleum
- Beautiful Memorial
- Can intern your whole family together
- Give a place for your family to visit after you pass on
- Expensive to Build
- Requires upkeep in perpetuity
- Not environmentally friendly
Taj Mahal at Agra, India for Shah Jahan, Mughal Emperor
The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt
Humayun’s Tomb at Delhi, India
Al-Khazneh at Petra, Jordan
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Italy
The Pantheon, Rome in Italy
Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome, Italy
La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Henry Flagler’s mausoleum in St. Augustine, Florida
Abraham Lincoln’s tomb in Springfield, Illinois
The mausoleum has been around since ancient Egypt, today there is a wide array of options both (relatively) affordable and extravagant. As with most other aspects of funeral planning, you will need to take into consideration the expense and the wishes of not only yourself but your family as well. It is best to speak with a funeral director about what is important to you and your family as well as find out the practicalities, expenses, and timing of having one constructed.