Wandering through Cementerio de la Recoleta


No trip to Buenos Aires is complete with a visit to Recoleta Cemetery, the place where Eva Peron (Evita) and many others have their final resting places. I was going to write “buried” just then, but realized that it’s not really appropriate, because almost all of the tombs are above ground!

Looking down on the cemetery from the church. You can clearly see the alleys and walkways that make this a mini-city.

Looking down on the cemetery from the church. You can clearly see the alleys and walkways that make this a mini-city.

The cemetery itself isn’t that large – only 14 acres, and we were able to walk around it and see the important sites in only an hour or so. Originally based around a small church, Recoleta is now listed as one of the 10 best cemeteries in the world. It’s laid on a grid-like pattern, with streets and intersections.

I particularly liked this tomb, with the statue of a girl and her dog in front. The glass arches also appeal to me - it's got an elegant simplicity to it.

I particularly liked this tomb, with the statue of a girl and her dog in front. The glass arches also appeal to me – it’s got an elegant simplicity to it.

Each of the tombs is like a small building, and they even have addresses to help you find your way. It’s a fascinating mini-city in a way, where each family has ultimate control over what “their” tomb looks like – so you get an amazing cross-section of architectural styles. Baroque and Neo-Gothic next to Art Deco and Art Nouveau. There were even a few minimalist tombs from more recent “burials”.

One of the more classic looking tombs.

One of the more classic looking tombs.

This one has colorful details, but was fitted rather tightly between two other tombs!

This one has colorful details, but was fitted rather tightly between two other tombs!

Although most of the tombs are well-cared for, there are some that have clearly not been visited in some time. Spider webs cover the doors, and well-rusted chains keep unwanted visitors out. A few tombs had been damaged, and in one you could clearly see the lead-lined coffins stacked up inside!

Spiders are the only visitors to this tomb in a looooong time.

Spiders are the only visitors to this tomb in a looooong time.

This tomb has been badly damaged. You can see that there were three segments, but the covering frontispiece no longer exists.

This tomb has been badly damaged. You can see that there were three segments stacked on top of one another, but the covering frontispiece no longer exists.

The bottom-most tomb is open to the elements. You can see the coffin inside - luckily still sealed with lead. I wanted to make a vampire joke, but then remembered that this is someone's loved one ... and therefore deserves a certain level of respect, even if the tomb itself has fallen into disrepair.

The bottom-most tomb is open to the elements. You can see the coffin inside – luckily still sealed with lead. I wanted to make a vampire joke, but then remembered that this is someone’s loved one … and therefore deserves a certain level of respect, even if the tomb itself has fallen into disrepair.

Recoleta is also famous for the cats who live there. We didn’t see as many as I was expecting, but we did see one old Tom who seemed quite wise with age. He was perfectly placed for petting, and didn’t seem bothered one bit when I gave him a scratch.

Old wise man of the cemetery. I wonder what secrets he's seen?

Gato de Cementario. I wonder what secrets he’s seen?

I had to take a picture of these rolling dollys ... coffin shaped!  Because how else are you going to get the people to their tombs? It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but it's still kind of creepy.

I had to take a picture of these rolling dollys … coffin shaped! Because how else are you going to get the corpses to their tombs? It makes perfect sense when you think about it, but it’s still kind of creepy.

I felt quite guilty wandering around the cemetery, because this is the main burial place for the Argentine elite, and yet (other than Eva Peron) I didn’t recognize any names. Carlos Saavedra LamasFacundo Quiroga, or Luis Federico Leloir. They are all notable people with a rich history, people who have contributed to society, and yet their names don’t mean anything to me. I consider myself a well-educated person, and yet I’m always amazed by how much I don’t know.

The narrow alleys between the tombs. Without the excellent map provided by the cemetery, I think it would be quite difficult to find your way!

The narrow alleys between the tombs. Without the excellent map provided by the cemetery, I think it would be quite difficult to find your way!

This tomb had a really modern, pyramidal shape. If I was Dan Brown, I'm sure I'd have some sort of Masonic suspicions!

This tomb had a really modern, pyramidal shape. If I was Dan Brown, I’m sure I’d have some sort of Masonic suspicions!

This was one of our favorite tombs - it's very Italianate in it's use of stone of shape. I also like the greenery creeping around the bricks, although I'm sure after years of this the whole thing will fall down.

This was one of our favorite tombs – it’s very Italianate in it’s use of stone of shape. I also like the greenery creeping around the bricks, although I’m sure after years of this growth the whole thing will fall down.

The tomb of the Peron family, where Eva lies, is heavily decorated with flowers. Otherwise, it is one of the least decorative in the cemetery, and without the many flowers and plaques we probably would have walked right past it.

The tomb of the Peron family, where Eva lies, is heavily decorated with flowers. Otherwise, it is one of the least decorative in the cemetery, and without the many flowers and plaques we probably would have walked right past it.

This tomb, directly next to the Duarte family, is available! Anyone interested in a famous burial plot?

This tomb, directly next to the Duarte family, is available! Anyone interested in a famous burial plot?

 

I think Alex was getting annoyed with me for taking so many pictures. I could probably have an entire post about the doors of the Recoleta Cemetery!

I think Alex was getting annoyed with me for taking so many pictures. I could probably have an entire post about the doors of the Recoleta Cemetery!

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Posted on 02/06/2013, in Moggies, travel, Travel to South America and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Well, I see I’m not the only one who is fascinated by cemeteries. Some day, I’m going to see the Victorian one in London. Didn’t visit the Cairo one because people are actually trying to live there! Great post, Astrid! Thanks.
    Suzanne

  2. Alex doesn’t look annoyed at all – – – and thanks for this post.

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