La Recoleta Cemetery
La Recoleta Cemetery is a unique burial site, located in Buenos Aires Recoleta neighborhood, full of art statues and mausoleums or famous people. Some of them include Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina and Nobel Prize winners.
Cemetery is constructed like a proper city, with large square “blocks” and tree-lined avenues spanning a total of 14 acres and containing some 5,000 mausoleums.
- Name: La Recoleta Cemetery
- Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Type of attraction: Architectural/Cemetery
- Built: 1822
- Ticket price: Free
In this labyrinthine city of the dead, over 6,400 monuments, sarcophagi, coffins, and crypts memorialize some of Argentina’s most famous sons and daughters, including Eva “Evita” Perón.
Recoleta Cemetery, in the same-named neighborhood, was previously the orchard of the adjacent Baslica Nuestra Seora del Pilar, the gleaming white church that looks out over the square.
In 1822, the city’s first public cemetery was established on property once owned by the Recollect monks, from whom the neighborhood gets its name.
Próspero Catelin, a French engineer who also created the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral in the Plaza de Mayo, created its arrangement.
With shadowy passageways and towering marble mausoleums rich in Art Deco, Art Nouveau, baroque, and neo-gothic architectural styles, Masonic symbols, and powerful religious iconography, it’s a hauntingly beautiful location. Over 90 of its tombs have been designated as national historical landmarks.
The tombs of Eva Perón, as well as former Argentine presidents Sarmiento and Ral Alfonsn, are the most visited.
The cemetery is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Free Spanish-language guided tours 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. Once a week, the local tourist board conducts a guided tour of the cemetery and the surrounding Recoleta neighborhood.
Main points of interest
The Paz family held the Palacio Paz (now the Circulo Militar) on Plaza San Martn, as well as the newspaper La Prensa, and their mausoleum is a grand black stone building with massive marble angles and Masonic symbols.
Rufina Cambaceres’ magnificent art nouveau tomb is another notable tomb from the early 1900s. Rufina’s mother designed the monument in Carrera marble after it was discovered that she had been buried alive by mistake. It carries all the markings of her family’s tremendous grief. A few days after her burial, local workmen heard screaming, and when her coffin was disinterred, scratch marks on her face and the insides of the coffin were discovered. Later, it was speculated that she had been in a coma.
Recoleta Cemetery, like every other cemetery, has a ghost story. David Alleno toiled as a cemetery gravedigger for 30 years, meticulously putting money down for his own spot and a statue of himself. Alleno is reported to have gone home and murdered himself as soon as the architect he had commissioned for the statue finished the job. His keys are said to still jingle as his ghost explores the cemetery’s small walkways before morning.
Look for the mausoleum of Liliana Crociati, who died in Austria during her honeymoon in the 1970s. Her parents rebuilt Liliana’s bedroom within her tomb, and placed a bronze statue of her in her bridal gown, with her beloved pet dog by her side, at the door.
Finally, there’s Eva Peron’s (née Duarte) tomb. Her remains was not placed in the Duarte family tomb for another 20 years after she died in 1952. To protect her remains, Evita is buried in a well walled mausoleum five meters deep.
It is a top attraction in Buenos Aires, so don’t miss it when you are visiting.
Interesting facts about La Recoleta Cemetery
Here are some interesting facts about this impressive landmark:
- There are about 6,400 tombs and mausoleums on the site.
- Since its foundation, it was built in a mixture of various styles: Neoclassical, Neo Gothic, Art Nuevo and Art Deco
- There are, of course, several ghost story and legends linked to the cemetery.