Skip to content

Month: January 2010

378. where is eva perón? ◊

Eva Perón, Recoleta Cemetery

A question asked several times throughout the past 50 years 🙂 With no signage to mark the way, visitors only have a few options to find the tomb of Eva Perón: use our PDF guidebook (yes, shameless self-promotion), buy a map from the women at the entrance gate, ask one of the caretakers… or take notes from this video:

Oddly enough, the Duarte family vault was once marked but at least not in last nine years. This abandoned sign was previously found by the women’s restroom:

Evita sign, Recoleta Cemetery

Of course, Eva is easier to find on her birthday (07 May) or on the day she passed away (26 July)… just look for all the flowers!

1 Comment

377. adolfo alsina ◊

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Vice-President under Sarmiento then later Minister of War under Avellaneda, Adolfo Alsina was born in Buenos Aires in 1829… son of politician Valentín Alsina. Although father & son were supposedly of very different temperament & character, both participated significantly in national politics.

Adolfo fought in early conflicts after independence from Spain, lived in exile for some time in Montevideo but eventually occupied important positions in Congress & became the Governor of Buenos Aires.

But as Minister of War, Adolfo left his mark. He built 109 lookout points —all connected by telegraph to major forts— deep inside what was at that time indigenous territory. Known as the Zanja de Alsina, the lookout points were defended by a 374 km trench which was 2 meters deep & 3 meters wide. Constructed to gain access to fertile land & eliminate the Mapuche tribe, Alsina’s offensive/defensive system proved vital to the success of the Conquest of the Desert lead by Julio Argentino Roca.

Zanja de Alsina map, Museo de la Patagonia

The crypt of Adolfo reminds visitors of his pivotal role… look who flees on the right relief panel & who calmly takes control on the right. No one can claim Recoleta Cemetery to be PC:

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Even Roca left a wordy plaque to Alsina:

Adolfo Alsina, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (Nov 2021): Reliefs were executed by Basque sculptor Lorenzo Fernández de Viana who worked in Argentina from 1912 to 1916.


375. cuidadores

Vista, Recoleta Cemetery

In spite of its grandeur, Recoleta Cemetery is not very large. It is only as big as four city blocks, but more than 4,700 tombs & mausoleums can be found among its narrow walkways. Smaller plots have only one coffin while larger ones can have more than 50. To maintain them all —checking drainage pipes, fixing floors, trimming trees & an endless list of other chores— there are some 65 caretakers… very nice people, passionate about the cemetery & who in several occasions act as guides for the unavoidable tourist who wants to know the quickest way to the tomb of Eva Perón.

A simple bit of math reveals that each caretaker has the responsiblity to maintain about 70 tombs, large or small.  Not all of those tombs are cleaned or cared for since some families do not pay the corresponding maintenance fee —according to the official Buenos Aires city government website currently 48 pesos or about US$ 12.50 per square meter. Tombs not paid for are neglected by caretakers. The reason, according to one of the cemetery workers, is simple: each caretaker receives as their salary a percentage of what the tomb owner pays to the city government. And in many cases, due to the number of mausoleums in any particular sector which pay no taxes, the money provided to caretakers per month is very little… less than 500 pesos or US$ 130 at the current exchange rate.

Tools of the trade, Recoleta Cemetery

Some of the biggest vaults, like that of the Familia Leloir, also pay the aguinaldo (a year-end bonus equivalent to one month’s salary) to the city which ends up going to the caretaker. In addition, some families give extra cash directly to the caretaker to ensure better maintenance… a tip of sorts.

Caretakers appear everywhere in the cemetery, visible at any time of day. They are easily recognized by their gray workclothes & their characteristic way of referring to the cemetery:  the capacity of a vault is measured in “beds,” not coffins, & the dead who occupy them are “tenants.”

What unites them, as mentioned in the beginning of this post, is their love for Recoleta Cemetery. And their dream, their personal utopia, might just be reaching the status of the most famous caretaker of them all: David Alleno, the only cemetery worker who is buried there.


374. pdf guide for sale

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

Take this blog with you! Several years, thousands of photos & 24 pages later, the only guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery which can be easily used inside is available for purchase.

The PDF has a clean & crisp look, designed to be printed either at home or while in Buenos Aires. It covers 70 tombs & mausoleums, divided into easy-to-navigate sections of about 10 tombs each. In addition, there are sections which discuss the foundation of the cemetery, its current operation, some of the symbolism to be found inside, & a full-page master map… in fact, it is the only accurate map in existence.

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery
PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

The walk focuses on art & architecture, a number of important historical events, a bit of urban legend & of course the cemetery’s most famous resident.  Eva María Duarte de Perón —simply Evita to her devotées— had a bizarre post-mortem journey which is described at length. The entire walk should take about two hours to complete… keep in mind that the PDF is directed to those who want to explore the cemetery in depth.

PDF guidebook to Recoleta Cemetery

Purchase from PayPal for US$ 5.49 on the dedicated sale page. A download link will appear after the sale has been approved. Thanks for supporting our research!

To learn about the making of this guide, the following series of posts titled “map development” chronicles the journey: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4part 5part 6, & part 7.

Update (Jul 2020): The COVID-19 pandemic has had at least one positive result: time to redesign the entire PDF guide to Recoleta Cemetery. New sections & dozens of color photos were added, but the price remains the same. Check it out!

Endless Mile, Recoleta Cemetery, PDF guide
Leave a Comment