Cementerio de la Recoleta, tucked away in a quite corner of Buenos Aires, has been listed as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. The tiny 5.5 hectare space is filled with almost 4700 vaults, and the list of famous Argentinean names engraved on these makes the cemetery worth exploring.
The cemetery is reminiscent of a labyrinth of city streets; mausoleum-lined streets branch of each other in a jumbled maze of headstones. A mishmash of marble, bronze, granite and limestone crypts tower over each other in an everlasting memorial to the renowned figures buried beneath them. Past presidents, politicians, writers, scientists, actresses, poets, military men, musicians and sportsmen have been laid to rest there, providing a unique look at Argentina’s past.
The cemetery lies in the wealthier district of Buenos Aires, and as such only the wealthiest of families lay claim to a spot here. Rumour has it that families compete to see who can produce the most elaborate memorial for their deceased, so it’s quite a spectacle walking around the cemetery. Keep an eye out for the life-size statues, chandeliers, ornate carvings and stained glass. The most famous – and most visited – tomb is that of Eva Perón. Eva, or Evita as she is commonly known, is the wife of President Juan Perón, and a celebrated figure in Argentinian politics. Her embalmed remains lie in the Duarte family vault – around the end of July, towards the anniversary of her death, flowers pile up around the tomb.
Tours in English are available at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays – to take part, just wait by the gates at the main entrance. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, be sure to but a map at the entrance to make it easier to find those particular sites you’re hunting for. It can be easy to get lost amongst the crypt, so make sure you leave plenty of time to explore – generally an hour or two will do it. Cemetery caretakers are generally happy to point you in the right direction if you get a bit disorientated. To find Cementerio de la Recoleta, any bus going along Av. Del Libertado will bring you within a block of the entrance, or the closes subway station is Pueyrredón on Line D.