I have an inexplicable interest in graves. One of the reasons why I visited Argentina a few years back was to see the Recoleta cemetery. I had seen a number of photographs of this cemetery on the internet and was keen to visit it first hand. I was lucky to have made this trip to Buenos Aires.
La Recoleta Cemetery, which in Spanish is called Cementerio de la Recoleta, is located in the Recolata neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. When the city of Buenos Aires ws founded in1580 by Juan de Garay, the distribution of land was made to the members of his expedition. Rodrigo Oritz de Zarafe was awarded the area of what is now known as the Recoleta neighbourhood. owing its name to a derivation of the Convent and Church of the Recoletes Fathers who arrived here in the beginning of the 16th century.
It contains the graves of notable people, including the Presidents of Argentina, famous Eva Peron, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy and a granddaughter of Napoleon. The other distinguished Argentinians whose mortal remains lie buried here include Juan Bautista Alberdi, Manuel Dorrego, Bartolomé Mitre, Juan Manuel de Rosas, Cornelio Saavedra, Guillermo Brown, and Domingo Faustino Sarmiento.
In 2011, the BBC listed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries. In 2009, Lonely Planet too put it in its list of the 10 best cemeteries. This year, 2013, the CNN has included it among its choice of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world
It is one of the main tourist attractions of the Recoleta neighborhood. It was designed by the French architect Prosper Catelin, at the request of the Argentinan President Bernardina Rivadavia. It was started in 1822.
The cemetery is located next to the former monastery of the Recollect Fathers. It is an outstanding display of nineteenth- and twentieth-century funerary art and architecture, with private family crypts of the bourgeoisie and mausolea of the landowning classes.
An information board with a map in the Recoleta neighbourhood.
The limited space is absolutely full of graves, with only small paths in between.
There is a strange peace and calm in the atmosphere. The place is definitely neither depressing nor does it give a feeling of sadness.
A vault containing many deceased.
You might be wondering why I have not included a photo of the grave of the charismatic Eva Peron? Please wait for Part-II of this photo article which will be put up soon.
Every Tuesday and Thursday there are free English guided tours starting at 11:00 am from the main entrance at Calle Junin. You may like to check up for the latest schedule. The tour takes about 120 minutes of walking.
(Text with inputs from the internet.)
Photos, text and copyright K.J.S.Chatrath
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