There’s a castle in the cemetery, but most people never see it. Stuck in a corner down a dead-end aisle, the organization whose members are be buried here often go unnoticed.
The Calpense Association for Mutual Assistance was one of many groups formed by immigrants from a specific region in Europe to assist new arrivals from their hometown. These organizations founded hospitals (important when immigrants could speak little Spanish) & gave women an outlet away from the home. So who were the Calpenses?
Phoenicians trading in the Mediterranean 3,000 years ago christened a landmark mountain “Calpe.” Called Gibraltar today, the British Commonwealth has controlled “the Rock” since the early 1700s. The mausoleum’s castle design originated from a coat of arms granted by Queen Isabel —the same one who funded the voyage of Columbus— since the area belonged to at that time. That original coat of arms was incorporated into the modern Gibraltar flag, then reproduced in Recoleta Cemetery. The vault is a perfect copy:
The hanging key on the coat of arms also forms part of the vault… look down at the doorstep to find it:
The interior is wide & spacious, & the stained glass on the back wall is worth a peek inside:
Update (20 Dec 2023): During a recent trip to Gibraltar, I found the following plaque near a World War I monument by King’s Bastion. Ties to immigrants ran deep in the early 20th century.