On an early Sunday morning, when the streets were still quiet, I walked to the entrance of La Recoleta cemetery, hoping to find it empty. When I arrived at the small square east of the cemetery, the sun just reached the top of Nuestra Señora del Pilar church, and the gate of the cemetery was still closed. A guard opened the gate soon, and for the next hour or so, I did not see another person (but quite a few cats who call La Recoleta home). I walked the alleys, in awe of the beauty found in most graves. Most mausoleums are family graves, and it is clear that the elegance for which the porteños (inhabitants of Buenos Aires) are known, can also be seen in the appearance of this cemetery. These are not just sculptures; these are true works of art adorning the tombs.
The La Recoleta cemetery breathed a serene silence, and it somehow did not make me feel sad as some cemeteries can; on the contrary, the beauty of the graves, expressing the love of the survivors for their mother, father, son, or daughter gave a warm feeling. A woman in marble, covered in a marble cloth, bending towards a grave; a small plaque on which his children let their disappeared dad know they will never forget him, a small angel with wings sitting on the corner of a mausoleum, with a calm expression. There surely are sad stories behind the tombs, for instance, the one of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, an unfortunate girl who met her end just before getting married in Italy. Her statue stands out; it is modern style, yet very gracious.
La Recoleta cemetery could be called symbolic for Buenos Aires in that you can find beauty and neglect side by side. There are graves and entire mausoleums that seem abandoned, with grass growing in the inside, open spaces, empty boxes, no dedication, or even rubbish inside. They allow you to get an idea of the inside of a mausoleum on this prestigious resting place. Fortunately, a large majority of mausoleums are in pretty good shape, and proudly mark the resting place of a family with a statue on top of a cupola, winged angels on the corners, or more daring artistic works of art. I helped several tourists find the grave of Evita Perón, wondering if they even realized that the cemetery is so much more than just that famous grave.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from La Recoleta Cemetery (Argentina). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to La Recoleta Cemetery. Read more about this site.