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Understanding Columbarium: A Guide to Honor Your Loved Ones

As we remember our loved ones who have passed away, we strive to commemorate their lives meaningfully. A columbarium, a structure that houses cremation urns or other memorial items, is one option to consider. In this article, we will define a columbarium, and discuss its history, types, design, and other factors to help you make an informed decision.

You'll learn the following:

What is a Columbarium?

A columbarium is a structure that contains niches, compartments, or vaults to store cremation urns or other memorial items. The word "columbarium" comes from the Latin word "columba," which means "dove." In ancient Rome, columbaria were used to house doves, but over time, the term came to refer to structures used for the storage of human remains.

History of Columbaria

Columbaria have been around for centuries, with some of the earliest examples dating back to ancient Rome and Greece. These structures were often found in or near cemeteries, and their design varied depending on the era and culture. In some cases, columbaria were built as part of larger complexes, such as mausoleums or temples.

Types of Columbaria

There are several types of columbaria to consider, depending on your needs and preferences. Some of the most common types include:

  • Indoor columbaria: These are typically located in funeral homes, churches, or other buildings and offer a controlled environment for the urns and memorial items. One type of niche to consider is a front-glass niche, which provides a clear view of the urn or memorial item inside. This option can be particularly meaningful for those who want to display a special urn or have a personalized item inside the niche. One potential benefit of choosing a front-glass niche is the ability to enhance the display with lighting. Specifically, LED lights can be installed inside the niche to provide a soft glow that illuminates the urn or memorial item inside. LED lights are a popular choice because they are energy-efficient and long-lasting, which means they can provide a beautiful display without needing frequent replacement. Additionally, LED lights can be customized with different colors and brightness levels to create a truly unique and personalized tribute. Overall, LED lighting can add a special touch to a front-glass niche and create a beautiful display that honors your loved one's memory.

  • Outdoor columbaria: These structures are often found in cemeteries, gardens, or other outdoor spaces and may have niches with glass or metal covers for added protection.

  • Wall-mounted columbaria: These are designed to be mounted on walls and can be customized to fit your desired space and aesthetic.

Design Considerations

When choosing a columbarium, there are several design considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • Size: Consider the number of niches you'll need to accommodate your loved ones and any future additions.

  • Materials: Columbaria can be made of various materials, such as marble, granite, or bronze, each with its unique characteristics and price points.

  • Customization: Many columbaria offer customization options, such as engraved plaques, photos, or other personalized details.

  • Location: Think about where you'd like the columbarium to be located, whether indoors or outdoors, and in a space that's accessible and secure.

Other Considerations

In addition to design considerations, there are other factors to keep in mind when selecting a columbarium, such as:

  • Cost: Columbaria can vary in price depending on the materials used, customization options, and location.

  • Maintenance: Consider the upkeep and maintenance required to keep the columbarium clean and well-maintained.

  • Regulations: Be aware of any local or state regulations governing the construction and use of columbaria.


In summary, a columbarium is a structure designed to honor and store the remains of our loved ones. Whether you choose an indoor or outdoor columbarium, wall-mounted or customized, the most important thing is to find a place that resonates with your heart and memories. By considering the various types, designs, and other considerations, you can make a thoughtful and informed decision that honors your loved one's legacy for generations to come.


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