A columbarium (/ˌkɒləmˈbɛəriəm/;[1] pl. columbaria) is a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns (those holding a deceased's cremated remains), but can also mean the nesting boxes of pigeons. The term comes from the Latin "columba" (dove) and, originally, solely referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons called a dovecote.


Roman columbaria were often built partly or completely underground.[2] The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is an ancient Roman example, rich in frescoes, decorations and precious mosaics.[3]

Today's columbaria can be either free standing units, or part of a mausoleum or another building. Some manufacturers produce columbaria that are built entirely off-site and brought to the cemetery by a large truck. Many modern crematoria have columbaria. Examples of these are the columbaria in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Golders Green Crematorium in London.

In other cases, columbaria are built into church structures. One example is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (Los Angeles, California), which houses a number of columbarium niches in the mausoleum built into the lower levels of the Cathedral. The construction of columbaria within churches is particularly widespread in the Czechoslovak Hussite Church. An example can be seen at the Church of St Nicolas in Old Town Square (Prague). In the Roman Catholic Church, although traditional burial is still preferred, cremation is permitted provided that the cremated remains are buried or entombed. As a result, columbaria can be found within some Catholic cemeteries.

Columbaria are often closely similar in form to traditional Buddhist temples, which from ancient times have housed cremated ashes. In Buddhism, ashes of the deceased may be placed in a columbarium (in Chinese, a naguta ("bone-receiving pagoda"); in Japanese, a nokotsudo ("bone-receiving hall"), which can be either attached to or a part of a Buddhist temple or cemetery. This practice allows for the family of the deceased to visit the temple for the conduct of traditional memorials and ancestor rites.



Columbarium wall, with flowers, plaques, and empty niches.

Columbarium at Père-Lachaise Cemetery

Detail of the columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

Ebingen Kolumbarium

A modern columbarium in a small German town


Interior of columbarium at Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California. Some of the cinerary urns are book-shaped.

Columbarium at ArlingtonNationalCemetery

Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Each niche is covered with a marble plaque.

Columbarium Blera

Etruscan columbarium at Cava Buia, Blera, Italy.


A traditional Japanese columbarium at the Takidani Fudōmyō-ō Temple, Osaka, Japan.

1.3-Nan Tien Temple

A modern Chinese-style columbarium at Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong, Australia.

Columbarium caves in Israel

PikiWiki Israel 12061 Colombarium cave in Hirbat Midras
Columbarium cave in Hirbat Midras, Archaeological sites of Israel

In the Bet Guvrin area several series of large caves dug into soft rock were found. There were several theories about their original use, for ritual burial, for growing pigeons to be used for ritual sacrifice, or for raising pigeons for fertilizer production. One such cave had been covered by an earthquake close to the time of its original usage and had no signs of secondary usage; neither ashes nor pigeon droppings were found in it.[4][5]

Among the archaeologic finds on Masada, a columbarium tower foundation remains.

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of 'columbarium'". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  2. ^ Toynbee, J M C (1971). Death and Burial in the Roman World. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 113–118.
  3. ^ Ancient Roman underground columbariums included: Columbarium of Statilii, Columbarium of Volusii, Columbarium of Livia, Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas, Columbarium of Lucius Arruntius, Columbarium of Iunius Silanus, Columbarium of Nero Claudius Druscus, Columbarium of Marcella, Columbarium of Carvilii, Columbarium of C. Annius Pollio, Columbarium of Caecilii, Columbarium of Passienii, Columbarium of Bruttii, Columbarium of L. Caninius Gallus, Columbarium of L. Abucii, Columbarium of Q. Sallustii. Further reading in Pavia, Carlo. Guide to Underground Rome: From the Cloaca Maxima to the Domus Aurea: the Most Fascinating Underground Sites of the Capital. English translation by Darragh Henegan. Rome: Gangemi, 2000. ISBN 88-7448-994-3
  4. ^ "Bet Guvrin National Park". Israel National Parks.
  5. ^ "The Land of 1000 Caves".

External links

Bohemian National Cemetery (Chicago, Illinois)

Bohemian National Cemetery (Czech: Český národní hřbitov) is a cemetery at 5255 North Pulaski Road on the north side of Chicago, Illinois.


Columbariidae, also known as pagoda shells, are a family of large deepwater sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks in the superfamily Turbinelloidea. Some 60 extant species have been described. This family was previously as the subfamily Columbariinae in the family Turbinellidae within the clade Neogastropoda (according to the taxonomy of the Gastropoda by Bouchet & Rocroi, 2005).


Mandai is a planning area located in the North Region of Singapore, famously known for being the access point of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

The Mandai Crematorium and Columbarium, the largest crematorium and columbarium in Singapore, is also located in Mandai planning area. Other features include the Sembawang Hot Springs and Sembawang Golf Course.

In 2012, a new river-themed park, River Safari, opened beside the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

United States Naval Academy Cemetery

The United States Naval Academy Cemetery and Columbarium is a cemetery at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

University of Virginia Cemetery

The University of Virginia Cemetery and Columbarium is a cemetery on the Grounds of the University of Virginia, located at the intersection of McCormick Road and Alderman Road. In operation since 1828, during the earliest days of the University, the cemetery is the final resting place for many University of Virginia professors, administrators, and alumni. It includes a large burial area that holds the remains of 1,097 Confederate States Army soldiers. The cemetery is in two sections; the newer section includes a columbarium to provide more space for burials.

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