La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires

By: Smith Schwartz |

Last weekend we took a stroll through the famous La Recoleta Cemetery. Located in the Recoleta neighborhood, almost everyone who’s anyone in Buenos Aires history (and present) is buried here.

It’s more like a city of mausoleums than a traditional graveyard, equipped with sidewalks and streetlamps. Each vault can hold many members of one family, as the buildings go several levels underground. Also, many of the caskets are easily seen by visitors through windows looking into the tombs, which is a little unnerving, as it’s not something you can usually see in the States.

Several of the mausoleums have fallen into disrepair. When a tomb has gone untouched for twenty years, that plot is up for grabs for the newly deceased, starting at a 1.7 million USD price tag. (That does not include building the new structure or any upkeep.)

This tomb has broken glass where the windows and skylights used to be. It looks to me that unless some heirs come to clean it up, these graves won’t be here much longer.

Here’s an example of a newer tomb, built in the 1990’s. It seems well kept and even has seats for two visitors inside.

Another unusual fact about the cemetery is that a small army of cats can be found roaming the streets. Usually sleeping or sunbathing, they act as living monuments to the deceased here.

And of course, we waited in line to see the tomb of María Eva Duarte de Perón. After she died, her husband was in exile in Europe and had to hide her body for many years. When she finally returned home, she was laid to rest in La Recoleta, in a modest tomb alongside her family. Her grave is the third most visited in the world.

We were enchanted by this tiny city of a cemetery. However, upon hearing the price tag of a tomb here, Erik decided that instead of a marble mausoleum, he’d rather make due by moving into a more simple resting place. Hopefully, we’ll have quite a long time and many more adventures before we have to move on up to that garbage pail in the sky.