/ The Buenos Aires Guide

Cementerio de la Recoleta, the City of the Dead

A short walk north of downtown Buenos Aires the streets of the barrio de la Recoleta capture the mood of discreet upper class Parisian life: art nouveau mansions and wide boulevards. At its very heart, physically and spiritually, is the world-famous Cementerio de la Recoleta, the city of the dead.

This picturesque cemetery is full of cut-stone streets lined thick with mausoleums and memorials built in memory of the most patrician of porteño families. Lovers of sculpture and wrought-iron finery (not to mention the macabre) can wander for hours. The architecture styles of the tombs range from neo classic to art deco and the some of the sculptures have been declared national historic monuments.

The Cemetery was primitively an orchard belonging to the Recoletos Franciscan monks, whose convent (built in 1716) stood on the site currently occupied by the Centro Cultural Recoleta. It was turned into the Northern Cemetery on 1822. The Frontispiece is decorated with thirteen mortuary symbols and an imposing portico supported by Doric order columns. It is the oldest graveyard in the city, and the richness of the works of art it harbours makes it the second in importance after the cemetery of Genoa.

The Cemetery includes graves of some of the most influential and important Argentine, including several presidents, scientists, and wealthy characters. But one child of the lower classes lies entombed here amongst the aristocrats: Eva Perón, wife of the late populist dictator Juan Domingo Perón, known best through the film and the opera “Evita”. She still commands intense allegiance from her Argentine followers who gather daily at her tomb to weep and remember. Her remains endured quite an adventure. Her dead body was stolen, copied, hidden, and then stolen again. Directions through the cemetery would be useless, but you can ask at the main gate or just follow the crowd to Evita’s grave. Just remember that Evita provokes strong feelings in the locals, not always positive by any means. Finding the grave on your own is half the fun anyway.

Check out this interesting video.

Cementerio de la Recoleta

Junin 1790, Recoleta, Buenos Aires.

Photo credit: http://www.planeteye.com/Media/1071594#sideindex=p

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