Columbaria & Cremation Niches

When you opt for cremation, you may be surprised to learn how many cemetery options are available to you. Though many families choose to scatter a loved one’s ashes or keep them in an urn at home, others prefer to have a permanent location where they can visit and pay their respects to their loved one. Columbaria and cremation niches are among the choices.

Find the right final resting place

Explore your many options with The Buyer's Guide to Cemetery Property.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a building or a room in a building designed especially for cremation urns. Columbaria are traditionally located on cemetery property, and some funeral homes have columbaria. More and more, they can be found at churches, universities, golf clubs and other cultural centers. Large or small, private or public, a columbarium comprises a few or many cremation niches.

A stately standalone columbarium may hold thousands upon thousands of urns, like the historically significant San Francisco Columbarium. A private columbarium in a cemetery garden may hold just one or two urns, or it may hold the urns of many family members.

Outdoor companion cremation columbaria monuments with yellow flowers at Pacific View Memorial Park.


A columbarium and a mausoleum are different

A columbarium may be part of a mausoleum, which is a building with crypts for caskets and niches for urns. A columbarium is for ashes only; it does not have spaces for whole-body interment. Some people confuse the terms, but they mean different things.

What is a cremation niche?

Cremation niches, no matter if they are in a mausoleum, funeral home or columbarium, are simply cubbyholes with secure fronts. They are typically between 9 and 12 inches square and have bronze, granite or glass fronts. An individual niche holds one urn; a companion niche holds two. The cost of a cremation niche depends on its location.

Though there are exceptions, the typical price of a cremation niche ranges from $2,500 to $6,000.

Types of cremation niches

There are three kinds of cremation niches. All can be customized as a celebration of life. Any can be for a single urn or multiple urns, and a columbarium or mausoleum may have one, two or all three kinds.

Granite-front cremation niche with bronze plaque and vase.

Bronze-front niche

As its name indicates, the bronze-front niche is sealed with cast-bronze plaque that can be engraved with birth and death dates; other details about a person; or a personal motto, scripture or song lyrics. Bronze-front niches can be found indoors and out.

Cremation niche at Palm Northwest Mortuary & Cemetery

Granite-front niche

Similar to the bronze-front niche, a granite-front niche is sealed with granite. The front may be laser-etched with personal details or it may have a bronze plaque with an inscription. Granite-front niches can be found indoors or out.

Glass-front niche containing an urn, peals and photograph at Ocean View Funeral Home and Burial Park.

Glass-front niche

Glass-front niches help tell the story of a unique life the way no other cemetery property can. Always located inside a building, they're essentially shadow boxes for keepsakes. In addition to a loved one's urn, families often display photos, jewelry, dried flowers, stuffed toys, notes and small trinkets to serve as reminders of their loved ones. Families may have the option of changing out a loved one's display once or twice a year, and the contents of the niches are visible to all visitors.

Other cremation cemetery options

Whether you choose an aboveground or below-ground burial, a custom memorial is a lasting tribute to your loved one. Cremation memorials include statuary, monuments, benches and more. Not all of these options are available everywhere, so it’s important to talk with a Dignity Memorial® professional about what you would like for your or your loved one's final resting place and what’s available at the cemetery of your choice.

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Create a lasting legacy

Many people don't realize the significance of choosing a final resting place. It is an important step in creating a family legacy, establishing a place of remembrance for future generations and paying tribute to a special life. Your Dignity Memorial professionals are here to help.

Get your free Buyer's Guide to Cemetery Property today. 


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