The list of occupants of Recoleta Cemetery reads like a Who’s Who of Argentine history & society. The elite, an aspiring middle class, friends, enemies & those who contributed to the general welfare of Argentina all share space in a miniature city of mausoleums & monuments.
During a visit, you’ll stroll past Presidents & politicians (some naughty, some nice), Nobel Prize winners, literary greats, entertainers, scientists, military leaders, sports figures & even some who died tragically. The cemetery’s most famous resident, Eva María Duarte de Perón —simply Evita to her devotées— even had a bizarre post-mortem journey before finally resting in peace in Recoleta.
It’s been quite some time since a full-feature piece about Recoleta Cemetery appeared in a major Buenos Aires newspaper. In the past, I’d translate these articles in their entirety under the category “In the press” so readers could have access to this historic content in English. But all manner of automatic translation exists today online… not ideal & not always accurate, at least those tools give a general notion of the article if you’re curious.
I know the author, & he is very meticulous with research… we’ve even collaborated on a few projects together. It’s great to have this information available to the general public! A passing mention of this blog or the possibility of contributing photos would have been a nice gesture though.
Happy 200th birthday! Marcelo was unable to attend, but a series of activities throughout November commemorated the bicentennial of Recoleta Cemetery. Announced by the official website of the Buenos Aires city government, here’s their schedule of events:
Official commemorative act, November 17
Dramatization, November 19 at 18:00 Directed by Hugo Aquino, the Clepsidra theater group will surprise as usual in its performances at various historical sites. This tour & its actors pull together 200 years of Argentine history from a religious, architectural, political & cultural perspective.
Symphony orchestra, November 24 at 18:00 The Argentine Naval Prefecture symphony orchestra brings together 40 members to perform a repertoire that will include the Argentina national anthem as well as works by Brahms, Strauss & Dvorak.
Chamber vocal ensemble, November 26 at 18:00 Created in 1970, the Chamber Vocal Ensemble —managed by the Undersecretary of Culture from the Municipality of Quilmes— is composed of music professionals who join the group through a rigorous competition. The choir is composed of 5 sopranos, 4 altos, 3 tenors & 5 bass singers that achieve a beautiful harmony. They have performed in emblematic places such as the Teatro Colon, the Teatro Cervantes & the Auditorio Belgrano among others.
Guided visit, November 30 at 21:00 Commemorating the bicentennial of the cemetery, Mr. Eduardo Lazzari will accompany us in a nighttime tour without precedent. The route will include places of interest that bring together legends & stories that have been gathered throughout history.
In addition, the article lists ten must-see places to visit inside Recoleta Cemetery. We’ve written about these specific tombs or general areas, so each link below will take you directly to that post:
Other press releases in local newspapers generally copied the official article linked above; however, one editorial piece in La Prensa caught my attention. Written by Roberto L. Elissalde, the article mentions some of the impressions that foreign visitors had while visiting Recoleta Cemetery as well as highlights the role of the cemetery’s first historian, Ricardo de Lafuente Machain. Worth a look if you can read Spanish.
If anyone has photos of the events mentioned above & would like to share, I’d be happy to post them here… & of course give proper credit!
Time to celebrate!! Recoleta Cemetery has been in operation for 200 years as of today! I’d hoped to make it back to Buenos Aires for such a special event, but Rafa & I are currently in Iowa visiting my aunt… family duty for the living calls 🙂
But I’m definitely there in spirit. How could I not be? By investigating the cemetery’s past, I’ve learned so much about Argentina. And instead of death, what fascinates me most are the lifetimes of those who rest in peace in Recoleta Cemetery. How families choose to be remembered as well as lessons they leave for the future are vital to understanding Argentina… both past & present.
Marcelo received the following invitation & plans to attend, so we’ll share his observations & photos too.
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This month also holds another special anniversary: 15 years of blogging about Recoleta Cemetery! With all the twists & turns of life, I can’t believe I’ve been able to publish new content regularly… even after moving away from Argentina in 2015. If you look back to the beginning, the first post dates from 03 Oct 2007 —but I backposted in order to have more to read on launch in November. Sneaky.
Although I’ve yet to publish all my photos of Recoleta Cemetery nor shared all its stories, these joint anniversaries are the perfect moment to pause & take a break. I won’t be posting new content monthly, but AfterLife will remain online… hopefully forever! It’s too valuable as an English-language resource to remove from the internet.
I will continue to update theRecoleta Cemetery map & guide as often as necessary; the PDF will always remain current. And if an important event happens, of course I’ll cover it here. I may even write a few new entries from time to time. But other projects require my attention at the moment, so AfterLife will remain on hold until further notice.
I’ve had lots of fun showing thousands of people around one of the most beautiful & intriguing cemeteries in the world —full of so much more than invented ghost stories or questionable interpretations of symbolism. And appearing on the GlobeTrekker television program was a definite highlight of this whole crazy experience.
Support from families with mausoleums in Recoleta Cemetery has been for the most part positive & very much appreciated. I’d also like to thank Marcelo Metayer for his invaluable assistance with writing, photography & overall support. Couldn’t have done this mega-project without you, Mar! Finally, a big thank-you to all the loyal readers over the years + everyone who has purchased our map & guide. ¡Gracias a todos!
Located on a prominent corner near the far-right section of the cemetery, the family mausoleum of Antonio Gonçalves Borrega has always been a bit of a mystery. Plaques say one thing while imagery shows another…
Reliefs with medical scenes decorate the top: the left panel appears to be a surgery or perhaps an autopsy, while the right panel looks like Asclepius healing a sick person. The original occupant must have been a physician, but new owners occupied this mausoleum in 1950.
One plaque is dedicated to the wife of Antonio, Joaquina da Conceição Braz, & another names Antonio as the owner of a fábrica de envases… this would most likely be a glass bottle factory or perhaps factory that produces packaging like containers, boxes, etc.:
The 1942 Anuario Kraft —a huge guide to regional commerce— mentions the Gonçalves factory was located at Calle Venezuela 538 in Buenos Aires. Other attempts to find business references have turned up nothing.
One other source states the mausoleum first belonged to “Dr. Ferrari,” but we have no proof to confirm or deny that claim. Finally, we’ve always wondered if the bust above is of the previous owner or of Antonio??? Yet another Recoleta Cemetery mystery to be unraveled…