Where We Be
|Recoleta Cemetary -- Buenos Aires
|Notice how the mausoleums are pressed right up against one another like grim Amsterdam townhomes for the dead
|A beautiful sculpture in Recoleta Cemetary incorporating both the Christian cross and Jewish menora
|The sheer concentration and jumble of statues, monuments, and crosses reminded us of a monument storefront
First impression of Recoleta Cemetary: astonish-
ment at the sheer concentration of tombs. Not
many trees or flowers, but instead a feeling of a
true CITY of the dead with "street signs" and
Robin hit the nail on the head when she said it
reminded her of a gravestone storefront because
of the sheer density of tombs. Monuments were
pressed right up against one other like tall
Amsterdam townhomes gone grim. Artwork and
sculptures and crosses criss-crossed everywhere,
especially on the tops of monuments, creating a
jumble of marble images.
We took a free tour of the cemetary at 11 am. Our
guide told us a medium-sized mausoleum sells for
approximately $30,000 US these days, with a small-
sized vault going for $10,000. She said location is
everything, just as with a home or apartment.
A medium-sized vault holds about 20 family
members since each vault includes a “basement”
with tiered shelves for stacking of coffins. You
don't have to be Argentinian or a member of any
particular religion to purchase a vault. You just
need to find someone willing to sell their vault in
order to purchase it from them. Our guide told us
there are no “newspaper ads” for vaults; rather,
info passes by word of mouth amongst the
What happens to existing bodies in a vault if the
vault happens to be sold? They are cremated or
moved to a new location.
Each vault is privately owned and maintained, so
there is a wide disparity in levels of care (from
exquisite to decrepit), style (from post-modern to
rustic), and display (from ostentatious to simple).
Some vaults have their own chapels. Many have
stained glass windows and altars with flowers. A
few have photos of loved ones or of the deceased.
Some statues are very beautiful and capture the
essence of the person who passed away. For
example, one young woman of 26 who died in an
avalanche in Switzerland was sculpted in her
wedding dress accompanied by her favorite dog.
If you want a true horror story, ask us about the
young woman buried alive here in the early 1900's.
Of course, we and everyone else on the tour were
most interested in seeing the tomb of Evita Peron,
which is located in a narrow side alley. The tomb,
owned by Eva's sister, is under the name of Duarte
(Eva’s maiden name) and is surprisingly simple and
unobtrusive for such an important figure.
|Robin stands on one of the wider "streets" in the cemetary in front of the "menora" tomb shown above
|Only the main "avenue" through the cemetary has substantial trees or foliage
|A rare splash of color at the end of one of the narrower "side-streets"
|Evita's tomb, surprisingly modest, on a side street
|A true city of the dead with paved streets and lamps (in case you want to visit at night?)
|An elaborate iron gate leading into a vault
|A "theme tomb" honoring Italian immigrants to Argentina
|Notice the small "street sign" on the post -- it designates the lane as Mausoleo Sarmiento
|Recoleta Cemetary was a jaw-dropper for me; I had no idea what to expect
and was blown away by the elaborate nature of the tombs and statues
|The topmost portion of one of the premier sculptures in the cemetary --
a woman raised out of her coffin by an angel and led up to heaven