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Author: Robert

599. la vida secreta de los cementerios

Canal de la Ciudad logo

Previously known as Ciudad Abierta, the tv network Canal de la Ciudad has been financed & operated by the Buenos Aires city government since 2003. Programs produced by the channel typically focus on cultural aspects of the city as well as daily life in BA. In November 2023, a new documentary series debuted titled “La vida secreta de los cementerios” which explores the two most famous cemeteries in Buenos Aires: Chacarita &, of course, Recoleta.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, la vida secreta de los cementerios, programa, Canal de la Ciudad

Over the course of eight episodes, viewers learn progressively about what characteristics make these two cemeteries unique… not only for the city but also in the world. Episodes run between 20-25 minutes in length with a standard interview format on location. Presenter Nadia Baalbaki walks through both cemeteries either alone or often accompanied by Eduardo Lazzari in Recoleta & Hernán Vizzari in Chacarita. Also, the current directors of both cemeteries —Sonia Del Papa Ferraro & Gonzalo Lasschar— make appearances along with a few academics & other specialists.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, la vida secreta de los cementerios, programa, Canal de la Ciudad

Following is a list of episodes, all available for viewing on YouTube & linked below. English subtitles are auto-generated but are pretty good if you need them.

Interesting bits: You can fit 17 Recoletas inside Chacarita… never thought of it that way before Lazzari puts the total number of plots/tombs/niches in Recoleta at 4,970 which is not far off my count of about 4,700. I doubt we’ll ever know exactly. Under 5,000 is always a good way to express it Interviews with tourists visiting the tomb of Eva Perón

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, la vida secreta de los cementerios, programa, Canal de la Ciudad

I think a series that highlights both cemeteries has been long overdue, & I’m very glad this initiative was taken. The information is well presented for a tv audience. However, one suggestion to make the series better: include more voices & other experts. Interview the restoration team, asking them about their training & methods, instead of merely showing them cleaning the statue of Pablo Riccheri. Or perhaps talk with the caretakers… because ultimately they are responsible for the day-to-day upkeep of both cemeteries. Not a major point but something interesting. Great work overall & a wonderful way to spread the word about both cemeteries!

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we’ll show you around…

Endless Mile, Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery guide

A list of occupants inside 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 this self-guided 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.

Want to learn more? Get all the details in our recommended map & pdf guide. The authors of this blog are proud to have guided more than 1,500 people through Recoleta Cemetery… join in!

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597. enrique prack

Recoleta Cemetery, Enrique Prack, Buenos Aires

A rare family document appeared on Facebook, & the owner kindly gave us permission to share it here as well. This boleto de sepultura —roughly translated as a “burial certificate”— has many interesting bits of information, but first a translation:

No. 69

The Municipality of the city of Buenos Aires has sold in perpetuity, under the conditions outlined below, the sixth gravesite, No. 32 of Section 2 in the Northern Cemetery to Mr. Enrique Prack who has paid the Tax Office the sum of seven thousand pesos; this document should be registered by the Administrator of the above-mentioned cemetery.

#1 · No other sale or transfer of this property will be recognized except those with the right of succession.
#2 · Aforementioned transfers may only be granted by the Municipality, via official request and with corresponding information.

[handwritten note] At 15:00, to the right of the second street.

Buenos Aires, 11 January 1884

[followed by illegible signatures… there’s a Belgrano & a Mariano Obarrio.]

Unfortunately the exact size of the plot is not recorded, but the price of 7,000 pesos in 1884 was a small fortune! Of course, determining an equivalent amount in terms of today’s purchasing power is tricky.

According to the Banco Central, the peso had almost the same value as the English sovereign at the time. So the Prack family invested 7,000 pounds for their plot; a considerable sum given that one of the extremely wealthy members of the Anchorena family died in 1884 with a fortune of 7 million pesos. If that’s the top tier of wealth in Argentina at that moment, this purchase represents a sizeable sum of money.

Recoleta Cemetery, Enrique Prack, Buenos Aires

Also of interest is a legal clause stating the plot belongs to the family forever. Well, almost. Given that Catholic cemeteries are considered sacred places, contracts like the above should be considered leases. Even so, the city government made a large profit from the proceeds of plot sales. Remember that a major renovation of the cemetery took place in 1881, & the city likely needed income to cover construction costs.

Enrique Prack (son, I believe) was a lawyer & wrote his thesis on crime & ideas behind penal codes. The mausoleum continues to be maintained by family descendants.

Recoleta Cemetery, Enrique Prack, Buenos Aires

Note: Document image used with kind permission of the Prack family.

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596. from the archives

Unfortunately I failed to document the exact location of these two panels. But after discovering them in my archives, I thought they were too beautiful not to share… both images taken on 29 Mar 2011.


595. la nación, 09 jan 2023

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, sculptors, escultores, La Nación

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.

Recorrido por las tumbas de los escultores más célebres del cementerio de la Recoleta” written by Alejandro Machado starts with an overview of the cemetery then dives into an extensive list of sculptors, their works in Recoleta & where to see other pieces by the same artist. Sculptors included in the article are:

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.

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