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Jewish Tours Argentina


Recoleta Cemetery


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 eye candy. It has 4700 crypts, 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 cemetery 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).

The burial chamber of Eva Peron is the most visited site of the Recoleta Cemetery these days due to the big number of tourists Buenos Aires is receiving. The crypt was made in an art deco style, with a bronze door craftily marked with leaves and flowers, fitted in pilasters and an exquisite ornamental front. A lighted laborer symbolizes eternal life.

Another interesting corner of the Recoleta cemetery is the Mausoleum of Admiral Guillermo Brown, constructed as a circular column standing over a small temple in which interior lies the urn where the sailor rests. It is built upon the melted bronze coming from the canons of the battle ships he once commanded. Beside this urn there is a smaller wooden one, containing the remains of his daughter Elisa. In the side faces of this small temple, plaques marked with drawings represent many sea episodes. The end of the column holds a Corinth Capital finishing with a representation of sails and antique ship caskets.

The crypt of Manuel Dorrego stands as a pyramid with an entrance protected by an iron gate. Through this gate a marble urn is displayed. This crypt is placed in the main street of the cemetery, a few steps from the central Christ. Dorrego was once the governor of Buenos Aires. During his government the peace treaty with Brazil was signed. Juan Lavalle fought against him, and, after being beaten, he was chased and executed. Juan Manuel de Rosas ordered that his remains were placed in the Recoleta cemetery in 1829.

The crypt of Jose C. Paz family is ornamented by a black grain cubic pedestal were beautiful angels stand. One of these angels casts a falling woman, and the other points to the heaven as a symbol of eternity. Jose C. Paz was the right hand of General Mitre in Pavón Battle, and was an active member of the Autonomist Party. He founded the La Prensa herald, and afterwards become congressman, and a diplomatic representative in Paris and Madrid.

Recoleta Cemetery Trivia: the legend of the watchman phantom

In the year 1910 a cemetery employee commits suicide. His name, David Alleno, an Italian immigrate whose job was to guard the cemetery at night.
Apparently, this man deeply hoped to be buried in the Recoleta cemetery since he begun working there, and so he made this wish come true. He saved money to buy himself a parcel inside the cemetery, constructed his own tomb, and even traveled to his Natal Geneva in Italy searching for a man that could properly carve his figure in marvel. When every detail was taken care of, he took himself his life.
Now… the night shift watchmen that have been working in the Recoleta cemetery these past years swear the existence of David Alleno’s ghost, never seen but yet heard through the clinking of his keys at the exact time the phantom continues his rounds, night by night and forever.

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