Visiting Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires’ most famous tombs

Are graveyards on your list of “places to see” when visiting a city? They should if you’re visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital city. Recoleta Cemetery is one of the main tourist attractions and it actually feels more like a museum than a cemetery.

Visiting Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires' most famous tombs

You may wonder why a cemetery is on the top places to visit. And here’s why:
  • First of all, this cemetery is home to the tombs of many famous and important people of Buenos Aires and Argentina. Recoleta Cemetery opened in 1822 as the first public cemetery and it was the resting place of Argentine high society. Eva Perón (former first lady) grave is located in Recoleta Cemetery. Other important people buried here are: Sarmiento (Argentina’s seventh President), Julio Argentino Roca (former president, the one in the 100 pesos bills) and Victoria Ocampo (famous writer). The list goes on and on. Being buried here meant you were a prestigious person. Photo credit 
Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires
Eva Peron’s tomb
  • The architecture. The tombs were all built to impress, and demonstrate the importance and power of the dead person. The cemetery contains mausoleums elaborated with marble, decorated with art nouveau and deco statues, resembling Gothic chapels and Greek temples. You will find the most beautiful, elegant and also weird tombs. Works by famous Argentine sculptors are found in many memorials.

Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires

  • The stories. The graveyard also hides stories of terrible deaths and tragedies. Every cemetery has a ghost story, and Recoleta is no exception. The most popular is the tragic death of Rufina Cambaceres, aka ‘the girl who died twice, who died in 1902 at 19 years old. She was transported to the cemetery on a rainy day and due to the weather, workers left her casket in the cemetery’s chapel to be interred later. The next day, a worker discovered the casket had been moved and the lid was out of place. Suspecting a grave robbing, the family asked that the casket be opened.  When the lid was lifted, Rufina still had her jewelry in place, but the inside of the casket had been scratched and Rufina’s extremities were bruised. The horrible truth was then revealed: she had been buried alive and tried to scratch her way out of the casket in a panic. She had suffered an attack of cataplexy, which causes a comatose-like state, leading doctors to mistakenly believe she was dead. Photo credit.
Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires
Liliana Crociati’s tomb
  • City of Dead. The cemetery’s layout was designed as a real city. Its enclosed inside a brick wall, with little plazas, city blocks, named streets and alleys. The only difference is that the houses are graves. It is one of the world’s most extraordinary graveyards, with over 6,400 mausoleums. The majority of them are well-maintained, but as it’s up to the ancestors of the deceased to maintain the tombs several can be found  broken and with rubbish.

Recoleta Cemetery isn’t a hostile place at all, as you can picture any other cemetery. On the contrary, you will find yourself walking around tombs as if you were visiting an art museum: admiring and taking photos of every detail in the mausoleums, cupolas, and sculptures.Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires

Useful tips and information:
  • The entrance to the cemetery is free.
  • It opens daily, 8am to 6pm.
  • Free tours in English take place at 11am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • The closest subte stations are Retiro and Callao
  • There are maps available at the main entrance.
  • Avoid tourist scams. As it is a really popular place for tourists, some people may take advantage of this. If a man offers you to guide you to Evita’s tomb, he will then ask for money. I experienced this myself. There are maps at the main entrance and also free tours provided by the government of Buenos Aires.
  • The cemetery is located in Recoleta, one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. After visiting the cemetery you can wander around, there are other places worth visiting nearby. Read more on my complete Buenos Aires local guide.

Recoleta Cemetery Buenos AiresRecoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires

So would you consider adding a cemetery to your list of places to visit? Have you ever been to Recoleta Cemetery? 

Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires' most famous tombs

 



11 thoughts on “Visiting Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires’ most famous tombs”

  • My boyfriend and I love visiting cemeteries. There is so much history to find there. Some tombs are also really beautiful to look at. And the walk is generally very serene and calming.

  • I’m no stranger to visiting cemeteries when I travel. I have visited two in the past in New Oreleans and Parisz I would defo terms go to Recoleta if only to see the resting place of Eva Peron.

  • The thought of exploring a cemetery and tombs give me the creeps. But your photos of the Recoleta Cemetery actually incited my curiosity. The elaborate maze of tombs and architecture is unlike anything I’ve seen before.

  • Cemetery always spooks me … but this seems so interesting that I may have the courage to visit it. There seem to be some awesome architectural exhibits. And that’s is fashioned like an actual city ..: how interesting is that!!!

  • What an interesting spot! We love seeing the unusual on trips so we would definitely want to stop by. We always travel with the kids and focus on making our travel educational. I can’t think of anything more off the beaten path than explaining “cataplexy”! Which also begs the question…does this happen now? Do people still suffer from cataplexy and seem dead? I need to google!!

  • I like how peaceful and calm cemeteries can be. They can be a respite in a busy city. The architecture looks amazing and it would be interesting to see where Eva Perón is buried. I bet the tour is interesting for the backstory of the cemetery.

  • Your guide is quiet comprehensive. It brings out the right architecture of the tombs to the limelight. These are some great pieces of work from the past.

  • I’d heard about people visiting this cemetery for the Eva Perón tomb. Not being interested in Eva Perón I didn’t visit but you’ve shown there is a lot more too it. It looks interesting walking around the tombs, admiring each one and reading about the history of the person. Thanks for the warning about the potential scam. being in Recoleta is perfect for exploring around afterwards.

  • Such a comprehensive guide for visiting this cemetery. I especially like that you took the time to relay the stories behind some of the burials there. The whole place is truly a piece of great art and your photos really provide a nice tour. Thanks also for the tips, will bookmark for future reference.

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