Cemeteries fascinate me and have for as long as I can remember. Not in the spooky Halloween, but in the ‘I’m amazed by them way’. Other than people who visit historic battlefields, I’ve noticed there is an distinct reaction from others when I mention that I seek out cemeteries to visit when I’m some place new. Either they find it incredibly fascinating or they look at me as if I have two heads. Why is it that cemeteries can draw in some people, yet repel others? Honestly, I have no idea, but I’m definitely in the I’m fascinated camp.
A peek into a past life
A generation or two ago, cemeteries were an integral part of a community. It was not uncommon for families to take a picnic to the family plot, have lunch with the dearly departed, and pass the day with the relatives. In many parts of the world, cemetery design incorporated walking paths, fountains, and other interesting details. These days, they are a quiet respite from out busy lives.
With these thoughts in mind, I knew that Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires would be a point of interest. Recoleta’s most famous ‘resident’ is Evita Peron, but its cutest are the cats who live there. One of the more interesting things about Recoleta Cemetery is that all of its 4691 vaults are located above ground. Now, this makes perfect sense to me as Buenos Aires is located at sea level and should the city ever be inundated with rain, buried vaults can resurface and float away [See New Orleans 2005 courtesy of Hurricane Katrina]. 94 of the crypts are National Historic Monuments.
Buenos Aires proper is often called the ‘Paris of South America and when visiting Recoleta it is easy to see why. During a 50 year period [1880-1930], most materials used in the construction of tombs came from Paris [and also Milan]