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Whilst backpacking in Buenos Aires a fellow traveller recommended I visited the cemetery in the city. Quite frankly I thought she was either weird or insane. Why would I want to spend my free time visiting a graveyard? They creep me out at the best of times and I don’t even know anyone buried here! But, as it had been so strongly recommended, I decided I would take a trip over there to suss it out for myself.
When I arrived I really was astonished! These graves were truly spectacular! It was like stepping into a village for the dead!
La Recoleta Cemetery is in fact a world famous cemetery spanning 5.5 km, with 4691 vaults, all of which are above ground, with 94 of them declared national historical monuments. A grave declared a national historical monument? I’ve never heard anything like it! I would have thought it insane to read on paper, but when you are actually there you can totally understand why…
The cemetery greets you with a grand entrance and magnificent mausoleums decorated with art deco and gothic style statues. It is set out in a street fashion, with the ‘homes’ of the deceased along each side. Walking around it feels as if you have entered a fictional town and ghosts and ghouls are about to jump out at any minute!
There are many families buried together, and some of the mausoleums display photos and information of its ‘inhabitants’. Some are in excellent condition, the magnificent marble perfectly maintained and fresh flowers laid alongside; others however, are in a sad state of disrepair.
All of the bodies are put into the mausoleums inside their coffins. Mostly, you cannot see these, however in some of the less maintained graves they are clearly visible. Some have doors wide open, so that if you were that way inclined, you could potentially walk right in to visit the dead that ‘live’ there.
Despite my initial hesitations about visiting the cemetery, I was actually really impressed; I’d never seen or heard of anything like this before! It was seriously creepy, but incredibly insightful and very interesting! I’ve since heard about other, similar cemeteries around the world, and should I end up in the vicinity of one of these I will be sure to go and check it out.
Many may say I am strange for wanting to visit a cemetery during my travels; I however, would just describe myself as curious. What do you think?