Recoleta Cemetery

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
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Trip End Jun 17, 2009


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Flag of Argentina  ,
Thursday, May 7, 2009

  "It's the third best cemetery in the world," said the woman selling guides at the entrance to the Recoleta cemetery in downtown Buenos Aires.  When asked about the two better cemeteries, she quickly answered that the Paris cemetery where Jim Morrison of the Doors is buried ranks as the best in the world, but admitted that she didn't know which cemetery is the second best.
 
To most Americans, cemeteries are expansive blankets of green dotted with granite tombstones.  Recoleta is nothing like this.  Instead, it is its own "city," with 4,800 mausoleums packed cheek-by-jowl and arranged along a grid of "streets" and avenues."  Large trees shade some of the larger avenues.
 
 

 
It appears that only the wealthiest and most prominent people were buried in Recoleta.   Several presidents are entombed here, and the names of many of the streets of Buenos Aires match the names on the tombs.  Each mausoleum is privately owned, as is the ground beneath it, and privately maintained.  Unfortunately, some families appear to no longer be able to maintain the tombs.  We found this particularly disconcerting at the tomb of Admiral Rivadavia, a national hero.  Surely the Argentine government should maintain this tomb out of respect for the service that he rendered to the nation.  
 
The mausoleums range from simple to incredibly elaborate, and reflect an equally broad range of architectural styles.  

 

 

 
 
Since ground space is at a premium, the skyline provides the opportunity to maintain one's status in life with an eye-catching silhouette.   One of the most elaborate of the mausoleums is that of Jose Paz, who established the La Prensa newspaper and built the La Prensa building that was featured in our post about Avenida de Mayo.
 
 
 
Interestingly, the tomb of the most famous "resident" is also one of the least prominent and least exuberant. A quiet, narrow "side-street" is the location of the mausoleum of the Duarte family, including Maria Eva Duarte de Peron - Evita.  (Her husband, Col. Juan Peron is buried elsewhere.)  A constant stream of visitors, both tourists and Argentines, visit her tomb, often leaving fresh flowers behind.  Clearly, some in Argentina still cry for her.
 
  
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