Cementerio de la Recoleta

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Junin 1790
Buenos Aires, Argentina
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From InfoRecoleta:

“The Recoleta Cemetery has been compared to the Pére Lachaise of Paris, being one of the fundamental architectonic pieces of Buenos Aires city. It represents the cornerstone of the Recoleta area of Barrio Norte, and a great example of its beautiness and eyecandy. It has 4700 cripts, distributed in a map of squares and wide inner streets, setting up an area of 50.000 square meters.

The Recoleta cemetery is an example of great and different architectonical styles; many leaders of the Argentinean history are buried there, between exquisite statues, streets and works of art that seem to struggle between them for unique marvel and beauty. This makes the cemetery become a special walk for tourists, since the fact that it is a cementery does not affect the freshness of this kind of an outdoors art gallery. The entrance is made from neoclassic doors and high Greek columns. Its mausoleums are marked with the name of the family carved in their ornamental fronts, plus bronze plaques which indicate individual family members; such as in the case of many Argentinean presidents.

In the beginning the recoleta cemetery was a holy ground (1822) when the Argentinean government prohibited the inhumations in churches and convents, but authorizing at the same time the use of the terrains of the old farm of the Monastery of the Recoletos Monks. It was then called Cementerio del Norte (“Cemetery of the North”). It was a modest beginning until Torcuato de Alvear, first Buenos Aires Intendant, proposed a reconstruction, and so the inner streets were rebuild, the chapel expanded, and peristyle and ornamental front erected. This gave the whole thing an emphasized French style (the remains of Torcuato de Alvear, along with his father’s, general Carlos de Alvear, and of its son, Marcelo Torcuato –president of Argentina- are buried there).”

From Wikipedia:

“The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in This Area, then the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around Their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar ( Church of Our Lady of Pilar ), built in 1732. The order was disbanded in 1822, and the garden of the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires. Inaugurated on 17 November of the same year under the name of Northern Cemetery (Northern Cemetery), Those responsible for its creation Were the then-Governor Martin Rodriguez , who would be buried in the cemetery Eventually, and government minister Bernardino Rivadavia . The 1822 layout was done by architect and civil engineer Catelin Prospero, who designed the current Also facade of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. The cemetery was last remodeled in 1881, while Torcuato de Alvear was greater of the city, by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo.

Set in 5.5 hectares (14 acres),  the property contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, 94 of Which Have Been Declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums , decorated with statues, in a wide variety of architectural styles Such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic , and Most materials used Between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs Were imported from Paris and Milan. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks Filled with mausoleums.

While many of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained, others have fallen into disrepair. Several can be found with broken glass and littered with rubbish.”

Comments

Everyone says that the Cementerio de la Recoleta is a must-see when in Buenos Aires…and I agree with them.  We visited on a chilly but sunny afternoon.  Several school groups and tourists wandered the paths.  Otherwise, only two security guards at the gate, a few maintenance workers and a bunch of lounging cats shared the cemetery with us.  The tombs are truly works of art and come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. Some of them are quite grand, others are smaller and quite a few need serious maintenance.  The cemetery itself is beautiful with a few tree lined paths that soften all of the marble, stone and concrete tombs.  Surprisingly, many of the tombs showoff the caskets holding the dead.  Many have glass doors giving you full access to see what is inside.  The larger tombs have what could be considered a place of worship at or above ground level with stairs leading to a basement full of caskets.  In some cases the glass has broken and dust, dirt, plants and trash sit with the bodies.  It is sad to think that some families spent so much to build these monuments only to have them disintegrate due to lack of care.

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