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AfterLife Posts

594. birthday bash

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Recoleta Cemetery

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.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Recoleta Cemetery, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

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:

  1. Peristyle & monumental entrance
  2. Pantheon of Meritorious Citizens – Section once dedicated to Argentina’s forefathers, but most remains have since been moved to other locations. One later addition was Dr. Guillermo Rawson.
  3. Central statue of Christ
  4. Walkway parallel to Calle Azcuénaga – Long path with large mausoleums such as Adolfo Alsina, Toribio de Ayerza & Luis Ángel Firpo.
  5. Sculptures parallel to Calle Vicente López – Shorter walkway filled with grand statues like on the tombs of Juan Alberto Lartigau & Luis María Campos.
  6. María Eva Duarte de Perón mausoleum
  7. Leloir family mausoleum
  8. Domingo Faustino Sarmiento tomb
  9. Legend of Rufina Cambacérès
  10. Chapel
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Recoleta Cemetery

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!

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593. special anniversaries

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Recoleta Cemetery, Bartolomé Miter, funeral, velatorio,

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.



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.

This simple layout stayed for so many years to make it more accessible to everyone.

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 the Recoleta 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 project.

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!

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592. antonio gonçalves borrega

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…

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591. alcorta

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Alcorta

Occupying a massive mausoleum along a main walkway, Amancio Alcorta (Sr.) descended from a long line of city founders in north & central Argentina. He was born in Santiago del Estero five years before Argentina declared independence from Spain & gradually moved closer & closer to Buenos Aires… first studying literature in Catamarca, followed by music studies in Córdoba. A law degree moved him in the direction of politics, occupying a number of positions before being elected Senator of his native province.

However Amancio was not your average politician; he was part of a generation who balanced political careers with the arts. One of the first Argentine-born composers, many of his works have been unfortunately lost. But surviving pieces incorporate early folklore rhythms as well as influence from Rossini, popular during his lifetime. Amancio was so beloved that he takes the forefront in a monument near the center of the cemetery:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Alcorta

Amancio had six children, two of which are depicted behind him: Santiago Damiano Alcorta Palacio on the left & namesake Amancio Mariano Alcorta Palacio on the right.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Alcorta

Amancio (Jr.) followed in his father’s footsteps, studying law & becoming a prominent politician. One of his distinctions was serving as the Minister for Foreign Relations under four different presidents, almost continuously from 1890 until his death in 1902.

Some of Amancio (Sr.)’s musical abilities must have been genetic because his grandson, Alberto Williams, went on to be one of the most recognized pianists of his generation & founded the Music Conservatory in Buenos Aires. Williams, who passed away in 1952, is also buried in the Alcorta family mausoleum:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Alcorta, Alberto Williams

Another important figure, Carlos Maschwitz, is also buried here. He married a granddaughter of Amancio (Sr.) & improved the national train network as Minister of Public Works alongside Emilio Mitre. He died in an automobile accident while driving from Paris to Bordeaux & has a town near Tigre named after him:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Alcorta, Carlos Maschwitz
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590. boletín del centro naval

The Centro Naval was founded in 1882 by a group of young officers as a gathering point, a conference center & a place to form bonds on a more social level outside of a military setting. Still going strong after 140 years, its beautiful location at the busy intersection of Calle Florida & Avenida Córdoba also supports academic & cultural activities as well as book publishing. Although closed to non-members, they offer occasional guided tours… definitely worth a visit just for the fancy ballroom:

In Issue #850 of their bulletin published in 2019, author & contributor Enrique Aramburu began by investigating famous naval officers buried inside Recoleta Cemetery. He later expanded his research to include all those involved in maritime activity who found their final resting place in Recoleta:

The result is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in a visit focused on Argentina’s naval history. Forty important figures are listed in the article, accompanied by a brief biography & several historic portraits. We’ve already covered quite a few of the people mentioned here, including:

We’d love to collaborate & design a map for members of the Centro Naval to use. Please get in touch if interested!

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