Tuesday, April 12, 2011

city of the dead


in the heart of buenos aires lies a favorite place where locals love to visit, take an afternoon stroll through the small winding streets......

......but this place is not a neighborhood -- at least for the living. 


it is a cemetery. 
visitors entering recoleta cemetery - note the 'orb' visible on the women at left!

recoleta cemetery is one of the most unique places i've visited. on any given afternoon, stylish buenos aireans can be seen entering through the massive gateway and into what could be best explained as a maze of tiny streets and alleyways winding through a series of grave monuments that at times resemble tiny houses.

one of the most famous residents of recoleta is eva peron. as our guide said, she would probably roll over in her grave knowing she was buried in what is the elite cemetery of buenos aires, but she is probably at peace knowing that her body is finally staying put in one place (a story for a future planned post!)


you could wander forever, alongside the eternal souls who most certainly do, among these elaborately carved monuments.

some monuments consist of actual tiny chapels - our guide is reflected in the glass door.







this sculpture adorns the grave of a young woman who died on her honeymoon. a member of a prominent family, a statue of her was commissioned to match the bronze sculpture of her beloved pet dog (which she, an artist, had sculpted previously.) reportedly the dog fell dead at home in argentina the same moment his master was swallowed in an avalanche in the alps.

if you ever visit buenos aires, be sure to save some time to stroll through recoleta cemetery. it is strangely peaceful to walk among the markers in this city of the dead, all the time seeing the skyscrapers of the living hovering in the distance  

(and be sure to watch for the orbs!)

29 comments:

  1. It's beautiful but I could not imagine going here just for a stroll.

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  2. In Hamburg there is a large and very old cemetery where people like to stroll, too, but it is incredibly different. It is very green, with huge old rhododendrons and benches, family graves with flat stones on the ground or only a meter tall, some angels and statues, but a very park-like atmosphere. This Recoleta Park looks so town-like. Amazing. Interesting information, Amanda!

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  3. I find this subject fascinating, and unlike Loree, I could spend all day and many more among the beautiful sculpture, architecture, and stories!

    The sculpture of the young woman is hauntingly beautiful...those empty eyes tell all, don't they?

    I also loved the many historic cemeteries along the Freedom Trail in Boston. It's not about the ghosts, it's about the people and their circumstances.

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  4. And here I thought you were going to give us pictures of a great community on the far side of the River Styx.

    Bear's wrong, again. Sigh.

    Great pictures and story from Buenos Aires.

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  5. Hauntingly beautiful, right out of an Anne Rice novel.

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  6. Such beauty can be found in a cemetery. I love the architecture and emotion that is evoked in them.

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  7. It reminds me of Italy's cemeteries. What a find!

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  8. How utterly fascinating when compared to our "get it over with, already" quick cremations and simple plots. And I thought New Orleans had an interesting cemetery!

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  9. This monument of the young woman makes me sad-sad story indeed...

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  10. I would love going here, reading the stories, and seeing all the incredible after life homes. I'm fascinated by culture around death and the after life. Have you ever been to the Sicilian catacombs? woohoo! not as fancy as this but certainly amazing.
    I love that last statue - a girl and her dog. what a lovely last image.

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  11. Very creepy yet cool, so wonderful to get a peek at all your amazing adventures!

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  12. Wow Amanda,this is a wonderful post.I must admit,I could not tear my eyes away from some of the monuments and sculptures...The one of the young girl and the dog..wow..I cant stop saying that..but Wow..So interesting!!Your pictures help me so much to see all detail and one cant help but think not only about the souls that rest in these places,but also the hands that carved these amazing monuments.Big Hugs,Cat

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  13. you take us to such interesting places. We manufacture a substitute for cut stone such as was used here. Along with wondering about the inhabitants, I wondered about the stone masons that cut and assembled such art work.

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  14. I feel like I'm walking beside you. A cemetery can be a beautiful place. I used to go for walks in one near Boston when my kids were little, but I prefer ones with more trees and flowers. Thanks for the tour!

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  15. I found this totally beautiful - and not at all creepy.. death comes to all of us - and it has always fascinated me to see how people in different cultures and different eras honour their dead. I always try and visit a cemetery wherever I travel...I find walking there peaceful and reflective....

    The statue of the young woman and her dog is such a loving tribute to both of them...Fate - and the hour that brings death - is always a mystery.... Faith - gives us the hope that one day we will be reunited with those we love.

    What a fabulous trip you are having - I am so happy you are bringing us all along!

    Love,

    ♥ Robin ♥

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  16. Reminds me of Père Lachaise in Paris. Love the photo of the chapel with the fern growing out of the cracks... and the cobwebs one too!
    I'm not a fan of cemeteries, but these monumental ones are so beautiful, and conceal so many incredible stories.

    What are those orbs????

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  17. I journeyed here via Genie's post on Pere LaChaise. I am in Paris at the same time as Genie & Marie. I am a bit of a cemetery tragic. I visited my fourth today: Passy, Monparnesse, Pere LaChaise, and Montmatre. All subtley different, but individually engrossing. As I wander, I like to pay tribute to the small people of history, and let them know they are not forgotten. I never go celebrity hunting, but honour them too, should I stumble upon their resting place.

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  18. Thank you for this beautiful travel and these wonderful photos ! :))

    Bye**

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  19. Amanda ~ love those Eurocentric cemeteries and most beautiful in Buenos Aires. Reminds me too of Pere Lachaise in Paris Eleonora and most Italian cemeteries as well - just different inhabitants and stories...visual and spatial villages unto themselves.

    Were there any trees?

    Keep the fascinating stories coming sister...

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  20. Amazing. I especially enjoyed seeing Evita Peron's stone.

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  21. What I like most in Recoleta's cemetery is the differences in architectonical styles. Baroque, Neoclassical, Gothic, Roman... but it is not a mess, no. I found it difficult first trying to find Evita's place, but then I just bumped into it almost at the end, when I had just given up.

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  22. Hi Amanda, it took me a while to get here, but absolutely love this post, it looks like a fabulous place to spend a day or two, or three, something akin to Père Lachaise in Paris. The sculpture of the young lady and her dog, both departed early from this world is stunning, really beautiful, slender soul...

    Thanks so much for this report, am adding it to the list of places I'd like to see someday. That is the wonder of blogging, we learn things we might not learn any other way. Bon voyage...

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  23. loree - it was a bit strange to see people wandering around like it was a regular park..

    geli - the cemetery you describe sounds lovely in a very different way. how interesting to learn that other folks around the world go for a stroll in them as well!

    jo - the freedom trail in boston sounds fascinating - i'd like to visit that sometime~

    r-bear - what you said reminds me of odysseus
    traveling into the underworld to visit his mother's ghost across the river styx!

    yoli -- oooh, anne rice --- i'll be there are places like this in new orleans?

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  24. farmchick - beauty yes, and emotion -- i imagine there must be a lot of energy in a place like this!

    rosaria - i wonder which cemeteries in italy are most like this one?

    nancy - ah! so you've seen similar ones in new orleans? i can only bet those would be fascinating...

    ola - it was very sad to hear our tour guide telling us about this young woman - such a powerful story of the bond of love~

    mim - i've not seen the sicilian catacombs -- but i'd love to!

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  25. lori - it did feel a little weird to be there, but the locals acted like it was normal!

    cat - yes, it's amazing to think of all the myriad souls who rest in this place...not to mention those who created the elaborate monuments (or little houses as mim so appropriately calls them! ;-)

    glenn- you and cat both mentioned that - we didn't learn enough about who carved the monuments. how interesting that you manufacture a substitute for cut stone -- material that resembles marble or granite?

    sarah - yes, there wasn't much room at all for trees or flowers (at least planted ones) in this cemetery - everything was packed in so tightly!

    robin - i have heard stories before such as the one our guide told us about the woman and her dog dying at the same moment as his mistress. so sad, yet so amazing - that connection between humans and their pets...

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  26. lola - i hear about pere lachaise and the famous folks buried there.....yes the orbs, what are they? anyone's guess but one opinion is that they are visible energy that shows up in fotos of souls still in the vicinity. of course, places such as churches and cemeteries would be filled with them....

    julie - you are on quite the tour -- what an innovative way to see a city, particularly one as historic as paris. the cemeteries there must be history lessons in themselves......and the fact that you honor those buried there who are less known is both touching and powerful.

    mahon - thank you ;-)

    sister - not many trees........it was like a little city of concrete, both streets and monuments.....
    xoxo

    tess - it was difficult to get a wide view of the duarte family grave due to the narrowness of the 'streets' - but there were many plaques on her memorial.

    ana - the variety of architectural styles could keep you occupied all day, trying to admire them all!

    owen - i agree - i've learned so much from other bloggers. the world opens up in so many new and unexpected ways....thanks for visiting today ;-)

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  27. Well, I am indeed late in getting here, but this is one of my favorite cemeteries. I took over 500 photos in two visits here with my husband... angels abound everywhere! Although there are some crypts in bad repair, there are more that are well-tended. I was fascinated by the number of cats which are cared for and fed here.

    So glad that you posted on this quiet place. I may offer a photo on a rare "...beyond" day.

    Bises,
    G

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  28. They say Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America and I can see similarities with some of the older buildings in your photos, so it's rather nice their cities to the departed are also similar. I find sepulchres and funereal architecture really interesting - a mixture of history and art. You can soon spot the lovers/poets/artists from the men of war by what was chosen to adorn their last address.

    You have me curious about the girl and her dog - sounds like a tragic fairytale - how did she come to die on her honeymoon?

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  29. genie - yes, there were a lot of cats at recoleta and i did noticed how well cared for they were!

    i will look forward to your fotos of this amazing place one day soon, i hope!

    annie - what an interesting observation - yes, the life of a poet vs. the life of a warrior are clearly illustrated by their graves.

    as for the young woman - she died in an avalanche while on honeymoon with her husband in the alps. so very sad as she was so young, and a powerful additional tale was the mystical connection with her pet dog.

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