Last Updated on October 27, 2020
Today we’re going to take a look inside a mausoleum.
Whether you are considering future planning options, thinking of getting into the funeral or cemetery business, or are simply curious, you’ll want to know what the inside of a mausoleum is like.
Let’s explore together as we check out the insides of several different mausoleums, from different corners of the country, to provide you with an “insider’s” look at their different characteristics and aesthetics.
We’ll look at photos, talk more about the history and purpose of mausoleums, and answer all the pertinent questions you have about mausoleums (but were too afraid to ask!)
Let’s get started!
If you’re interested in knowing what it’s like inside a mausoleum, then aside from visiting one yourself, there’s no better way to find out than to browse through some photos. All the photos you see in this article are snapshots of real mausoleums in Texas and Florida.
We received special permission from the following funeral homes and cemeteries to take these photos. We want to express our gratitude to each of them for their cooperation in helping us with this article. They are:
Heritage Mausoleum at Grand Prairie Memorial Gardens
The Heritage Mausoleum at Grand Prairie Memorial Gardens is a public mausoleum located in Grand Prairie, Texas, about 20 minutes south of Dallas.
Because it’s situated outdoors rather than indoors, it’s known as a garden mausoleum (see below to learn more about the different types of mausoleums).
In front of this mausoleum is a flush garden area for in-ground burials, and to the back is a beautiful pond for prayer and quiet reflection. To the left of the building is a gazebo, and benches sit throughout the property as well.
Heritage Mausoleum sits quietly within the picturesque memorial gardens, and contains not only crypts for casket entombment, but a columbarium niche as well, for cremated remains.
Here are some images approaching the east side of Heritage Mausoleum, where the crypts are held:
The next mausoleum photo is looking north through the main hall, which contains crypts on either side. Natural light illuminates this inner structure during the day, but electricity illuminates it at night, as well.
Looking south through the hall:
Finally, the view of the crypts from the west side:
Historic Mausoleums at St. Michael’s Cemetery
Here are a few of the many beautiful mausoleum structures at the historic St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.
Scattered throughout the cemetery, which is just a few blocks away from Pensacola Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, each mausoleum structure is as unique as the individuals who are entombed within.
Here’s the largest one on the site, a private mausoleum owned by the Sullivan family:
Here are two more nearby mausleums:
Now let’s take a look inside a mausoleum.
Here’s an approach to a gated structure filled with multiple crypts. It’s an old structure (circa late 1800s), built for the Dunn family. There are three spaces filled, with three unused crypts.
Inside a Mausoleum
We’ll assume that you already know what a mausoleum is, but just for clarification, here is the definition from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary:
1: a large tomb.Merriam-Webster
especially: a usually stone building with places for entombment of the dead above ground
2: a large gloomy building or room
As you can see from the photos above, this definition is spot on. A mausoleum is simply a room or rooms for above ground entombment in a building, as opposed to traditional in-ground burial.
The building itself is meant to protect the crypts (the sealed casketed remains of the deceased), as well as provide a peaceful place where loved ones can come and pay their respects.
Inside a mausoleum (depending on the type of structure), you’ll find the crypts sealed within walls or situated adjacent to the ground.
In a public mausoleum, such as the Heritage Mausoleum pictured above, electricity may provide a soft light at night or where natural lighting otherwise does not reach.
Older mausoleums, like those at the historic St. Michael’s Cemetery, probably won’t be updated with lighting, but it will depend on the cemetery and their policies as well as the image they are trying to maintain.
When visiting a mausoleum, you can expect the atmosphere to be very quiet and solemn. Sometimes, a public mausoleum will have soft music playing in the background.
Different Types of Crypts
Within any given mausoleum, there may be different styles of crypts situated therein.
One of the most common types is the single crypt. This type is just as it sounds… it contains enough space to hold the remains of one individual.
There are companion crypts, which can hold the remains of two individuals.
Side-by-side crypts are also just as they sound: two crypts situated one next to the other.
Finally you have Westminster, or family, crypts. These of course contain the remains of an entire family.
Different Types of Mausoleums
While all mausoleums have the same general purpose, to protect the above-ground remains of the deceased, not all are the same.
Let’s take an up-close look at some of the different types.
Public mausoleum. A public mausoleum is open to anyone who would like to come and pay their respects. A public mausoleum may be a very large building, capable of holding hundreds of crypts. It may also be on the smaller side, depending on it’s location. Public mausoleums are also known as a community mausoleums.
Private mausoleum. A private mausoleum is for personal family use. This type of mausoleum may be on private property, away from public access, or may be under lock and key within a purchased section of a cemetery. Many private mausoleums are of the well-known vestibule style (see below).
Vestibule mausoleum. Vestibule mausoleums are those that look almost like little homes in the cemetery. We call them vestibule mausoleums due to their grand entryways, or vestibules, which lead to the inner chamber. They are usually ornate and may have stained glass windows, Greek-like pillars, and/or religious carvings or statues.
Sarcophagus mausoleum. This type of mausoleum is different from the others in that usually only one crypt sits above ground; the rest are underground. It features no doors or windows, hence the name.
Lawn crypts. Lawn crypts are also different from the other styles of mausoleum we talk about here, in that they are are also entirely underground. The chambers within a lawn crypt are designed to hold the casketed remains of several individuals, often times those of a whole family. These crypts may be situated in the earth side-by-side, and/or one on top of the other.
Garden mausoleum. Like the Heritage Mausoleum pictured above, garden mausoleums are outside buildings, more often than not nestled within a tranquil area of a cemetery. They may or may not have provisions for niches (for cremated remains).
What Exactly is it Like Inside a Mausoleum?
If you are planning on visiting a mausoleum soon, you naturally want to know what to expect.
As we’ve already mentioned above, a mausoleum is a place of solemnity and respect for the dead. Therefore, mausoleums are usually very quiet, although some buildings may have calm music playing in the background.
The inside of the building should have soft lighting, by either sunlight or electricity, although this may not be the case with older mausoleums. A well-maintained mausoleum, whether indoors or outdoors, will not smell. At worst, it will have a dry, dusty scent.
Want to read our more info about mausoleums? You can learn more about the various types of mausoleums, too, by reading our article, What Is a Mausoleum?
Mausoleums: Frequently Asked Questions
We know you have lots of questions about mausoleums, and we have the answers!
If you don’t find the answer to your particular question below, leave it in our comment section below. We’ll do our best to find the answer for you.
What is the history of mausoleums?
Mausoleums have been around for centuries. Among the first were the Great Pyramids in ancient Egypt, which house the Pharaohs.
The term mausoleum is derives from the name of a leader from long ago, King Mausolus. He was the ruler of ancient Caria (located in modern-day Asia Minor).
When he died, his wife wanted him entombed above-ground, and so commissioned the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. This building is now in ruins but is one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
In the many years since King Mausolus’ death, mausoleums have grown in popularity. It has gone from being a final disposition that only the rich and famous can enjoy, to one within the means of everyday folks. That brings us to question number 2.
How much does mausoleum entombment cost?
The answer to this question depends on the mausoleum, it’s location, and the size or number of crypts that you wish to purchase. A single crypt within a public mausoleum may cost several thousand dollars, while one within a private mausoleum may be even higher.
Should I choose mausoleum entombment over traditional in-ground burial?
It all really boils down to personal preference and/or family tradition. In some cities, such as New Orleans, mausoleum entombment is more common than in-ground burial simply due to the nature of the soil.
If you are planning for the future, it’s a good idea to keep not only location, but costs in mind, too. Entombment in a mausoleum is generally more expensive than traditional cemetery burial or cremation.
Do mausoleums smell?
Modern mausoleums have drainage and ventilation systems that cause any unpleasant odors that may seep out of a crypt to dissipate immediately. In addition, sealed within their crypts, caskets themselves are often wrapped in a heavy-duty plastic. This helps to reduce any odors from leaks or casket “burping”.
Rarely, mausoleums without proper maintenance will have issues with drainage pipes or ventilation, and this presents a big problem. So if you are planning for the future, it’s important to do your research. Does the cemetery have a history of good or poor maintenance? That’s something you’ll want to know before deciding on any one mausoleum.
How do you seal a crypt?
Usually, once a casket is carefully placed inside it’s crypt, there is an inner lid that is sealed with a special glue or caulk over the opening of the crypt.
Next, the outer lid (which will bear the name of the deceased) is placed over the sealed inner lid.
Like you read above, often times the casket itself will rest within a heavy-duty plastic wrap to provide an extra layer of protection.
Can I visit a mausoleum?
Yes, you can generally visit a public mausoleum, especially if you are wanting to pay respects to someone there. If you are wanting to visit a private mausoleum, you will probably need to seek permission first from the appropriate sources.
Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoyed this article and were also able to learn something you didn’t know about what it’s like inside a mausoleum.
If you like what you saw, let us know in a comment below, and if you want to learn even more about mausoleums (and above-ground burial in general), please see our informational article, 9 Things You Need to Know About Mausoleums.