La Recoleta Cemetery
History and museums
La Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio de la Recoleta) is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world's best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in this area, then the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in the early eighteenth century. The cemetery is built around their convent and a church, Our Lady of Pilar (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar), built in 1732. The order was disbanded in 1822, and the garden of the convent was converted into the first public cemetery in Buenos Aires. Inaugurated on 17 November of the same year under the name of Cementerio del Norte (Northern Cemetery), those responsible for its creation were the then-Governor Martin Rodríguez, who would be eventually buried in the cemetery, and government minister Bernardino Rivadavia. The 1822 layout was done by French civil engineer Próspero Catelin, who also designed the current facade of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral. The cemetery was last remodeled in 1881, while Torcuato de Alvear was mayor of the city, by the Italian architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo.
Set in 5.5 hectares (14 acres), the site contains 4691 vaults, all above ground, of which 94 have been declared National Historical Monuments by the Argentine government and are protected by the state. The entrance to the cemetery is through neo-classical gates with tall Doric columns. The cemetery contains many elaborate marble mausoleums, decorated with statues, in a wide variety of architectural styles such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic, and most materials used between 1880 and 1930 in the construction of tombs were imported from Paris and Milan. The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums.
While many of the mausoleums are in fine shape and well-maintained, others have fallen into disrepair. Several can be found with broken glass and littered with rubbish. Among many memorials are works by notable Argentine sculptors, Lola Mora and Luis Perlotti for instance. The tomb of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, due to its unusual design, is of special interest.