Recoleta Cemetery truly feels like a city within a city with its grid street plan and mausoleums that resemble small houses and churches. It was opened in November, 1822 as the first public necropolis in the city of Buenos Aires on land that belonged to the Franciscan monks.
What I find interesting is that a visit to Recoleta Cemetery provides a glimpse into the political, artistic and social history of the country. Former presidents, war heroes, explorers, artists, Nobel Prize recipients, writers, sporting legends and even sworn enemies share this eternal resting place.
There is a display of wonderful works of art that represent different artistic periods, such as Neoclassical, Gothic, Art Deco or Art Nouveau. About 70 mausoleums are on the National Heritage List. Some of the statues are so lifelike that I expected them to turn round and talk to me. In some cases, the art gave rise to urban legends whose truth is difficult to ascertain. Take the story of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, for example. Her bronze statue is hauntingly beautiful and poignant. Some say that she died in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps during her honeymoon in 1970 or 1971. Some say it was a ski trip, not her honeymoon. It is said she’s depicted wearing her wedding dress. Some say that her loyal dog was added later, some say the dog died the moment she did. Who knows what really happened.
Among the most famous residents is Eva Peron. Her mausoleum is understated and rather difficult to find. We came across it by chance. People still leave flowers and pray for her soul. Her husband’s nemesis, General Eduardo Lonardi, is also a resident.
The list of people buried here reads like a map of the city, as many streets have been named after famous people. For instance, first I found the tomb of the person after whom the street where my parents live in was named and later I found the cross street!
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Address: Junin 1760, Buenos Aires.
It opens every day from 7 am to 6 pm. There are free guided tours in different languages. You can take a guided tour or, alternatively, buy this handy iPhone app from endlessmile (in English.)