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Colombia: San Pedro Cemetery Medellín

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San Pedro Cemetery Medellín | Colombia | Americas

[Visited: April 2009]

I walked all the way from downtown Medellín to the entrance of San Pedro cemetery. As soon as I was inside, the hectic life, the stress, and the noise of one of the largest cities of Colombia were gone. I moved further in, but before I could enter the large space in the central area of the cemetery, the silence of the cemetery was broken and I heard screaming, crying, and shouting - it gave me instant pimples and went straight into my heart. I turned around, and went to the source of the dramatic uproar. Near one of the walls of tombs, a group of young people, all dressed in black, were looking towards the wall. A coffin was pushed inside the wall, and instantly, a worker started to close the frontal gap with mortar. The howling, the crying, the powerless screaming came from deep down, and were so powerful that they made me cry. The cemetery had looked so peaceful, but this was a grim reminder of what I was at: the final resting place of people, young and old.

Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Lane inside San Pedro Cemetery leading up to the chapel

I moved on, walking around the San Pedro Cemetery along one of the many colonnaded lanes. Walls with tombs define the limits of the cemetery, many of them adorned with flowers and notes. Inside, I found large family graves of the better-off, with statues and sculptures, large plaques with the names of the deceased. San Pedro Cemetery is laid out in a spacious way, and it is a very green area. In the central section, many local celebrities from the political, intellectual, business and literary scene are laid to rest. Seeing the beauty of the place, I could imagine that San Pedro cemetery, established in 1842, has been declared a museum and a national monument. What is more, the place is also used for performances, dance, theatre and concerts. I also found a memorial for the famous Argentinian tango dancer Carlos Gardel, who died in a plane crash in 1935 right here in Medellín, and whose remains were enterred here temporarily in that same year, awaiting his repatriation to Buenos Aires.

Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Angel trying to silence the visitor at San Pedro Cemetery

When I returned to the eastern wall of San Pedro Cemetery, I walked up to the first floor from where I had good views of the cemetery. It was here that I realized that the cemetery is much bigger than it appears at first sight. Suddenly, an official approached me asking if I had a permit to take pictures, and he sent me directly to the entrance. To my surprise, I was given the permit right away, and just continued my tour of the cemetery, realizing that also here people were very friendly. I visited the main chapel, and close to that I saw some remarkable statues depicting angels, Jesus carrying a cross and weeping widows. A special addition to the cemetery are the signs with words of wisdom for the visitor. Another sympathetic official showed me some special sites of the cemetery, and made me visit the Mausoleo de la Luz, a rather new building where the remains of those who had been cremated are being kept. Cremation, he told me, was a rather new development in Medellín, and he explained that it would be better if more people would be cremated as burial obviously requires more space. On my way out, I passed the wall where I had seen the burial just after I had entered, and in the drying mortar, someone had written the date, while someone else had left a note for Omar, the newest resident of San Pedro cemetery.

Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): San Andrés wall of flowers at San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Statues of three women with flowers at San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Stairs in a corner of San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Commemorating deceased religious persons
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Sculpture of weeping woman with flowers at a tomb
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Part of San Pedro Cemetery seen from above
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Modern small chapel at San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Family tomb with statue
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Colonnaded walkway at San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Memorial plaques at San Pedro Cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Statues decorate many family tombs at San Pedro cemetery
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Wall of tombs with flowers
Picture of San Pedro Cemetery Medellín (Colombia): Cremated persons are kept in the Mausoleo de la Luz

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