La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

Ordinarily cemeteries aren’t exactly high on my list of places to go when on holiday – they don’t exactly scream holiday cheer, right? In fact, I kind of try to go out of my way not to go to cemeteries, but nevertheless I’ve managed to rack up a decent enough list of “Cemeteries I’ve Visited While On Holiday”.

The first was back when I was ten or eleven, and my parents took myself and my siblings to Republic of Ireland for our first ever family holiday. My stepdad – an avid Thin Lizzy fan – for some reason decided that one of the very first things we should do on Irish soil is find Phil Lynott’s grave for him to show his respects. In case you were wondering, he’s buried in St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton, Dublin, which believe it or not is not exactly the easiest place to find. It seems like we drove around for hours and hours until we eventually found it, stayed for twenty minutes or so looking at what can only be described as an unremarkable gravestone (it was cemetery policy that all graves in his section be flat and of the same type of stone), took a photo of it with my brother’s foot in the corner and then left.

So I like to think that being subconsciously drawn towards cemeteries is my stepdad’s fault. Thanks Steve.

Back to Argentina…

Lonely Planet describes La Recoleta cemetery as “arguably Buenos Aires’s number-one tourist attraction” which makes you think what kind of place are you Buenos Aires? I’m not going to lie, I hadn’t even heard of it until my friend told me it’s one of the places you just have to check out in BA. So check it out we did.

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Despite almost every single tomb and memorial having their own unique look, it’s all too easy to get lost in the intertwining paths. There are literally hundreds of tombs there – those of ‘ordinary’ people as well as the more revered, such as ex-presidents, military personnel and even Eva Perón.

There are definitely a few tombs on particular that are must-sees (I hate using that term in this context!) at the cemetery, and before leaving the hostel that day I found this great article summarising 10 particularly interesting tombs, and used it as a reference throughout. Hypothetically, without knowing what we were looking for, these tombs should have been pretty tough to find. However, there happened to be at least four different school groups on a trip to the cemetery that day, and so we just sort of gravitated towards where we heard kids’ voices and listened to their teacher explain about the tombs. This way we were able to see eight of the ten tombs on the list.

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Far and away the most heart-wrenching of any of the tombs was that of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak who died back in 1970 in an avalanche in Austria. There has been a lot of conversation about what actually happened to Liliana, and how her tomb ended up depicting her dog as well as her, and if you want to read more about her just click here, but for me the most difficult part of her story to swallow was the poem inscribed on the tomb.

Written by her father, it’s enough to break even the coldest of hearts:

Mia Figlia

Solo mi chiedo il perché
Tu se partita e distrutto hai lasciato il mio cuore
Che te solamente voleva, perché?
Perché? Solo il destino sà il perché e mi domando perché?

Perché non si può stare senza te, perché?
Tanto bella eri che la natura invidiosa ti distrusse, perché?
Perché, solo mi domando se Dio c’é, con se porta via ciò che suo non è
Perché ci distrugge e lascia all’infinito il dolore!

Perché? Credo al destino e non a te, perché?
Perché solo sò che sempre sogno con te, perché c’é di che?
Per tutto l’amore che sente il mio cuore per te.
Perché? Perché?

Il tuo papa

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Liliana’s tomb

Is it wrong to say I enjoyed myself looking at the final resting place of an innumerable amount of people? In total we only spent about an hour to an hour and a half strolling around, but I easily could have passed the whole afternoon there. If you plan to visit, just prepare to shed a tear or two.

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16 Comments

  1. 29th March 2017 / 1:46 am

    I don’t think that is odd at all!! Cemeteries are interesting and a great way to explore symbolism and history. We make it a point to see them, too.

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:29 pm

      This one was so full of history! If that’s your thing I’d highly recommend if you’re ever in BA!

  2. 29th March 2017 / 2:07 am

    I’ve never heard of this either! Is it bad to say that it’s stunning? I love all the different tombs.

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:29 pm

      You’re right, there is an eery beauty about the place.

  3. 29th March 2017 / 1:32 pm

    In theory, I think visiting cemeteries is a bit macabre and I try to avoid them as much as possible while traveling. In spite of this, however, I can appreciate the aesthetic beauty of some tombstones and memorials.

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:30 pm

      Ordinarily I’m the same! But I somehow end up in one far more than I’d like! The historic implications of this particular one made it well worth the visit, though.

  4. 29th March 2017 / 1:55 pm

    I have heard of this place and always wanted to go. Visiting a cemetary sure isn’t on top of my usual travel itinerary, byt from what I have heard this place is special. And your article certainly didn’t lessen my desire to go there. Great post!

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:31 pm

      Thank you! It really was a unique experience as far as cemeteries go.

  5. 29th March 2017 / 2:49 pm

    That looks super cool! I’m not a huge fan of these places since I get scared way too easy, and can you imagine getting lost there? Ugh the horror :)Though I always find European cemeteries really beautiful. They are like little houses for the deceased.

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:31 pm

      I actually did! We couldn’t find the exit for about an hour, but luckily it was still day time so not so eery 🙂

  6. 30th March 2017 / 1:00 am

    Like you, I don’t always go out of my way to visit cemetery unless its one of the famous people that’s buried there. However, it’s always interesting to find stories that are told about the ordinary people and what they went through. I am glad that you were able to give this place a chance and enjoyed it. By the way, all the tombs looks huge in your pictures.

    • rhiydwi
      30th March 2017 / 5:31 pm

      They were SO big! My friend is 6’2 and some were almost twice the size of him.

  7. 30th March 2017 / 7:39 am

    I used to think cemeteries were creepy but now I find them quite fascinating. I hate the idea of getting lost in one especially at night but I think the history behind some of the famous tombs is absolutely fascinating and worth learning about. Some churches have very interesting crypts. In some ways, because they are the “final resting place” it’s actually quite peaceful, when you take a moment to think about it.

  8. 30th March 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I have to be honest, I have never visited a cemetery before and I have never planed to. I find them very sad places, full of pain and tears. La Recoleta cemetery looks kind of creepy but the architecture and the monuments made for the deceased by their loved ones are impressive and fascinating.

  9. 30th March 2017 / 7:00 pm

    I am never comfortable visiting a cemetery…its in my mind I guess. But I like reading posts and stories around it…The Recoleta is interesting; there is a very interesting and beautiful cemetery in Salzburg as well, which came to my mind as you have mentioned Austria in the post as well. The tombs look like piece of art in your pics!

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