While it may seem odd that one of Buenos Aires’ principal tourist attractions is a cemetery, the Recoleta Cemetery is no ordinary graveyard. Encircled by a towering perimeter wall and entered via a striking columned portico, Recoleta Cemetery is one of the world’s most exquisite necropolises; a glorious ‘City of the Dead’ that houses some of the country’s most prominent political, military and artistic icons.
Over 6,400 tombs are found in the Cemetery, laid out in formal tree-lined avenues and punctuated with beautifully sculpted monuments, poignant marble statutes and grand, bronze-cast mausoleums. Notable burial plots include the vivid white stone tomb of newspaper founder José C. Paz, flanked by a pair of dazzling Rubenesque angels; the ostentatious tomb of former Argentine president Carlos Pellegrini, featuring an elaborate statue of the controversial leader atop the coffin; and the evocative statues of crying widows kneeling beside the tomb of Colonel Falcon, the Chief of Police famously assassinated by rebels in 1909. One of the most visited tombs is that of the city’s beloved Eva Perón, or Evita, whose family vault blooms year-round with bunches of fresh flowers and is inscribed with the promise: ‘I will return and be millions!’
With a list of residents that reads like a who’s who of Buenos Aires’ high society, the cemetery serves not only as a resting place for the dead but as a testament to the golden age of Buenos Aires and the equally turbulent and triumphant history of Argentina. One thing’s for sure – the ornate miniature city with its breathtaking sculptures and fine works of art is a fitting tribute to everyone buried there.