Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#718 Cemetario de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Amidst the urban sprawl and rich suburbs of Buenos Aires lies a remarkable cemetery. Perhaps not unique in the world, nor is the style of it unusual (there is one in Bogota, albeit much smaller, just down the road). This one is, however, a huge tourist attraction. Perhaps it is not the style or the habit, or the gothic morbid fascination that people hold for death and the afterlife, but it has been made famous because of Evita. This is Former Argentine First Lady Eva Peron's final resting place and it has become a place of pilgrimage and fascination for many.

In this city within the city, the streets are lined with marvelous tombs decorated in the most over-the-top manner, and often a peek inside will yield a glimpse of the tomb going down several floors to the family's ancestor's. Each mausoleum, crypt or tomb is unique and special and the styles vary from art deco to art nouveau, to baroque or neo-gothic.

This cemetery is a glimpse into the lives *ahem* deaths, of the rich and famous. 4691 crypts hold politicians, presidents (at least 10!), generals, caudillos, coronels, and heroes, and everyone else who was anyone. 94 are so important as to be declared national monuments. There's a famous boxer, a Chemistry Nobel Laureate, governors, patriots, writers and diplomats. The blog http://www.recoletacemetery.com/ has an amazing collection of stories about the who's who, with photos and details of both the tomb and their lives. Built around the Church Our Lady of Pilar in the early 18th century, it became public land after 1822 upon decrees of the Governor of the time. It's layout was designed by a French architect, and it was remodeled occasionally, but most recently in 1881.

Source: Lonely Planet Argentina, 8th Edition (2012)

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