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Category: Art + Architecture

578. peirano

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Peirano, Troiano Troiani

Signed by Italian architect Aldo Antonio Gaetano Flándoli, this striking Roman temple replica fails to attract much attention from visitors due to its location: a small walkway off a main path. The grandeur is also difficult to appreciate in such tight quarters but fortunately we have some artwork at eye level to appreciate.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Peirano, Troiano Troiani

Statues in the triangular pediment above as well as two door reliefs below are signed by another Italian immigrant, Troiano Troiani. The four Evangelists —Mark, Luke, John & Matthew— with their corresponding symbols flank larger depictions of Jesus & Mary. The descent of Christ from the cross is also shown in a lower center relief. Other works by Troiani in Recoleta Cemetery include a massive statue topping the Familia Manuel Cerini tomb as well as sculptures for the Familia D’onofrio. These are no less spectacular:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Peirano, Troiano Troiani
Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Peirano, Troiano Troiani

My main question is who are the Peiranos & how did they afford such a luxurious final resting place? Instinct leads me to believe they are part of the Uruguay-based Peirano family, known for owning a huge number of businesses in South America including banks, public transportation plus supermarket chains Santa Isabel in Chile & Disco in Argentina (often gathered under the Grupo Velox brand). Uruguayan courts found three of four Peirano brothers guilty of money laundering & fraud in 2013… but are their relatives here in Buenos Aires?

The only plaque on the mausoleum lists four burials from the mid-20th century, with no trace of anyone on the internet. If you have information about Elitreo Strucchi, Margarita D’Abové de Peirano, Antonio Peirano or Luisa Subazzoli de Strucchi —or any of the Peiranos— please let us know!

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let us show you around…

Endless Mile, Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery guide

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.

Want to learn more? Get all the details in our recommended may & 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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545. arrigorria

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Arbigorria

Our best guess as to the fortune of this family is based on references to Arturo R. Arrigorria in city government bulletins as well as annals of the Sociedad Científica Argentina: co-founder of the “La Nacional” glass factory in 1876 along with an associate with the last name of Pini. A visit by the SCA mentions 40-50 workers at their Buenos Aires plant, using two tons of coal to make 2,000 pounds of glassware daily. While they’ve obviously stopped paying maintenance fees & we’re not 100% certain of their identity, the vault is too unique not to mention here.

This pink-hued masterpiece off the tourist circuit offers one clue: a rare plaque by its architect, Carlos H. Besana. With a studio on Calle Tucumán just off Avenida Callao, Besana inherited a successful construction & architecture firm from his father, Pablo Besana. Pablo began his career in Milan & his native Lake Como, arriving in Buenos Aires in 1878. He collaborated with other major architects in the construction of some of the capital’s iconic buildings such as the first Facultad de Medicina on Avenida Córdoba & the national Congress. Around 1916, the firm acquired the name Besana & son.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Arbigorria, Carlos H. Besana

Another splash of color decorates a recess in the vault… a painted Pietà image. Such colorful images are rare in Recoleta Cemetery, often only found in stained glass panels:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Arbigorria

Latin script at the base of the Pietà is credited to St. Francis de Sales, a bishop from Savoy. Per crucem et derelictionem tuam, libera nos, Jesus translates to “By your cross & passion, deliver us, Jesus” & is often used in prayers:

If anyone has biographical information on the Arrigorria family, let us know & we will include it here. In the meantime, seek out this bit of color inside the cemetery!


543. diego de alvear

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Diego de Alvear

As a rule, important families placed their mausoleums along the wider walkways of Recoleta Cemetery for maximum impact… but of course exceptions exist to every rule. Perhaps no other space was available at the time of construction, but that didn’t mean this branch of the Alvear family couldn’t build on a grand scale. Just not as many people discover it today.

Diego Estanislao de Alvear came from a long line of Argentina’s founding fathers. The family hailed from Andalucía where his great-great-grandfather founded the famous Alvear winery in Montilla (near Córdoba, photos below). Diego’s grandfather held a high position in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata & defended Spain against the forces of Napoleon in Cádiz, after losing most family & possessions when the frigate Mercedes was sunk by British naval forces. Diego’s father, Carlos María de Alvear, was not on board the Mercedes & went on to help Argentina proclaim independence from Spain. He’s buried at the entrance of the cemetery for all to see.

España, Andalucía, Montilla, Bodegas Alvear
España, Andalucía, Montilla, Bodegas Alvear
España, Andalucía, Montilla, Bodegas Alvear

Diego de Alvear passed away in 1887 after marrying into an even richer family, founding the Club del Progreso & serving in the Senate. The family hired French architect Albert Ballu to design their grand mausoleum in 1889, who would also be responsible for the Argentina pavilion at the World Expo in Paris that same year. So grand & inspiring, the pavilion was deconstructed, shipped to Argentina & rebuilt on Plaza San Martín to become a new home to the Museo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires. The family certainly knew how to pick the most popular architect for the time.

Even more surprising is the interior sculpture, difficult to appreciate due to the mausoleum’s doors. But take a peek inside. Signed by Jules Roulleau in 1889, four figures of women in mourning surround a bust of Diego de Alvear. Some sources claim them to be sisters, but since he only had three they are likely allegorical representations of sorrow.

How to find this hidden masterpiece? Look for the dome… while on the main walkway between the central Christ statue & Rufina Cambacérès (also on the way to Eva Perón), look up & left to find a large dome & you’re almost there:

More photos of this fantastic & forgotten mausoleum on Alejandro Machado’s blog dedicated to French architects in Argentina.

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539. benito sánchez

Beautiful panel signed by M. Pla y Vilar. Remember that morning & sunset are the best times to peek inside mausoleums to find these gems. To see more examples, type “stained glass” into the search bar. Happy holidays to everyone, & thanks very much for all the support this year. Hope you’ve enjoyed Recoleta Cemetery as much as we do!

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