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Free fun Minneapolis: Lakewood Memorial Chapel

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Most people don't equate cemeteries with fun. Then again, most people don't know about Lakewood Cemetery next to Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, MN. Cemetery grounds are open to the public every day (hours), even during holidays.

Many historical Minnesota names are buried here, including Humphrey, Pillsbury and Wellstone. But the draw of Lakewood Cemetery isn't the big names, it's the chapel.

The Lakewood Memorial Chapel is the most impressive piece of Byzantine architecture in North America. Financed by the influential wealthy from early 20th-century Minneapolis, the Memorial Chapel spared no expense during its construction.

Most notably, a handful of the world's last remaining Italian Byzantine tile workers were contracted in the early 1900's to work on the interior of the chapel. They created their mosaic masterpiece out of 10 million tiles, each no bigger than a fingernail, while still in Italy before shipping it section by section to Minnesota for installation. Everything you see in this article's photo is accomplished with millions of tiles. It is a staggering sight to behold, the most impressive of its kind in this part of the world.

The chapel is open during cemetery grounds hours, unless it is otherwise engaged in a private function. You might need to ask a staff member in the administration building next door to open it for you, which they are happy to do during regular hours. Make a day of your Lakewood Cemetery adventure and give yourself plenty of time to explore the chapel, the mausoleum grounds across the boulevard and Lake Calhoun one block away.

And the best part? You can do it all for free.

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