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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