Recoleta Cemetery – Buenos Aires

Argentina Travel Posted on 09/30/2012

A tour through a cemetery may seem like a morbid thing to do on vacation, but this cemetery located in the upscale Recoleta area is a must-see for any trip to Buenos Aires as it is the final resting place for famous government officials, academics and wealthy families. Get in and let’s visit Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires!

1. Some history

The Recoleta cemetery was transformed from a convent garden to the first public cemetery of Buenos Aires in 1822. Próspero Catelin, a French engineer who also constructed the Metropolitan Cathedral in Plaza de Mayo, was in charge of designing the cemetery. The cemetery contains 4691 mausoleums and the Argentina government has declared 94 of them National Historical Monuments. Among the most famous are Raúl Alfonsín (former president of Argentina) and Eva Perón (former first lady of Argentina).

Recoleta’s cemetery of Buenos Aires features shadowy passageways and towering marble mausoleums brimming with Art Deco, Art Nouveau, baroque, and neo-gothic architectural styles, Masonic symbols, and profound religious symbolism. More than 90 of its graves have been designated as national historical sites. 

2. Which are the cemetery’s highlights and myths?

  • Liliana Crociati

Another impressive  mausoleum is the one of Liliana Crociati, who died in the 1970s while on her honeymoon in Austria. Her parents rebuilt her bedroom within her tomb and you’ll find a bronze statue of Liliana in her bridal gown, with her beloved pet dog at her feet, at the entrance.

  • Domingo Sarmiento

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento’s grave is easily identified since it has a tiny obelisk with a large condor on it. Sarmiento, Argentina’s seventh president, is known for structuring the educational system while being chastised for his Eurocentric policies. 

  • Paz Family

The Paz family mausoleum on Plaza San Martin, which also owned the Palacio Paz (Peace Palace) and the newspaper La Prensa, is a stately black stone building ornamented with massive marble angles and Masonic symbols.

  • Rufina Cambaceres

Rufina Cambaceres’ story is one of the most famous of the cemetery. The art nouveau mausoleum was chosen by Rufina’s mother and later it was discovered that Rufina had been buried alive by mistake. Screams were heard a few days after her funeral, and when her coffin was disinterred, scratch marks on her face and the insides of the coffin were discovered. It was then discovered that she had been in a coma.

  • David Alleno

Recoleta Cemetery, like any other, has a ghost story. David Alleno labored as a cemetery gravedigger for 30 years, meticulously saving his money for his own spot and a monument of himself. The legend tells Alleno committed suicide as soon as the architect he had commissioned for the monument finished his work. It is said you can hear his keys jingle as his spirit explores the cemetery’s small walkways before morning.

  • Eva Perón

Finally, there is Eva Peron’s grave. Despite the fact that she died in 1952, her remains were not placed in the Duarte family tomb for another 20 years. To preserve her remains, Evita is buried in a well walled mausoleum five meters deep. It It is certainly not the most elaborate, but it is always the most decorated with flowers and notes from visitors.

3. Some things you should know before visiting the cemetery

The Recoleta Cemetery is open everyday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Buenos Aires Tourist Office organizes a guided tour of the cemetery and the surrounding Recoleta neighborhood once a week. Free guided tours in Spanish are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. 

Upon entering the Recoleta cemetery, make sure to get your hands on a map. The map provides numbers for each mausoleum that correspond to names of the people buried there. While there is a recommended path around the cemetery, it is also fun to wander around the extremely narrow corridors and see which tombs catch your eye. 

While weekends are the most crowded time to visit the Recoleta cemetery, buenos Aires also offers a wonderful fair in Plaza Francia right outside the cemetery selling handmade artisan goods and delicious local food.

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