While in Buenos Aires, Gabriel and I walked from our hotel on Ave. 9 de Julio (an incredibly large, 18-lane highway!) to the barrio (neighbourhood) of Recoleta.
Recoleta is considered by most to be the posh, luxurious barrio. Featuring stores like Louis Vuitton, Recoleta boasts wonderful restaurants, shopping, and opulent hotels. Our time in Recoleta was spent somewhat differently, however. We walked to the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta, the city’s most prestigious address.
Walking through the cemetery is like a history lesson in the power and prestige of Buenos Aires’ elite. Beautiful, large crypts, adorned with sculptures and intricate wrought-iron gates are packed into this expensive piece of real estate. The mausoleums are so grand, and so ornate, that we were instantly fascinated with looking at each and every one.
From crumbling relics from the 1930s, to sparkling black stone creations from just a year ago, Cementerio de la Recoleta hosts every type of crypt you could imagine. I was absolutely enthralled with the rooftops of the crypts, and with the fact that so many of these tombs were now falling into serious disrepair. According to my trusty guidebook, the economic crash of 2001 caused many families to be unable to maintain their family crypts/mausoleums. Walking through the cemetery you will see glass doors smashed in, vines twirling their way up iron gates, coffins smashed open, and facades crumbling. Disturbing, spooky, and tragic.
After seeing Eva Peron’s resting place, in the Familia Duarte tomb, we toured the cemetery a bit more before leaving. Upon exiting we noticed signs boasting the Argentine government’s recent renovation and restoration project. Noticing the importance and historical significance of these crypts, they have now begun to restore them to their original splendour, which I think is incredibly important.
Cementerio de la Recoleta is open everyday from 8am until 6pm, and the entrance is free. Beware of “charities” asking for donations at the front gate. While some may be legit, others definitely were not, and we saw countless tourists being easily duped by their pleas. Nonetheless, Recoleta was the highlight of our time in Buenos Aires, and was a completely awe-inspiring way to spend a rainy afternoon.