Topic: Religious Art
The story behind Buenos Aires most famous cemetery
Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires Photo Image Gallery:
Recoleta Cemetery Buenos Aires
It's not very often that a Cemetery would feature as a touristy must-see, but the necropolis at Recoleta is an astonishing exception to the rule. Recoleta is Buenos Aires ritziest and wealthiest neighborhood, with superb old mansions along the Avenida Alvear. Nowhere is this elitism better displayed than at the resting ground of the rich and famous at the Recoleta Cemetery.
Recoleta Cemetery houses for their eternal rest most of Argentina’s forefathers and outstanding public celebrities as well as politicians.
Its refined architecture invites us to discover its history and hidden stories at the time we marvel out of the superb aesthetic. In many ways this very non traditional - though Traditional in the sense of society traditions- graveyard offers a fabulously achieved synthesis between History and Art.
Having earned a well recognized spot among the most interesting cemeteries of the world, along with those in the UK and France, Recoleta Cemetery beholds culture in its broader sense. Its perfectly planned internal streets lead us into a journey of history, art; while at the same time open the door to tell us the story of the city thru some of its finest citizens. The many mausoleums exhibit variety of sculpture styles that prove in many ways the pass of time as well as the timeless value of highly achieved craftsmanship.
As it usually happens with great historical sites, the story behind the creation of the Recoleta Cemetery is filled with outstanding historical characters of great names and key roles in the local history.
The lands in which the cemetery is located were property of Don Juan de Garay, founder of the city of Santa Maria de los Buenos Ayres that would latter be known as plain Buenos Aires. Don Juan de Garay gave  these lands to Don Rodrigo Ortiz de Zarate one of his best men at arms in the expedition that led to the foundation of the city. Don Rodrigo’s Ranch was known as Los Ombues, due to the great set of these traditional Argentine trees in the area. This first ownership took place in 1583, and until the early years of the 19th century, the place remained a private secular property.
It was then when the upscale society marriage of Don Fernando de Valdez e Inclan and Do?a Guerrera y Hurtado, became the owners of the Ombues, and due to their deep devotion to the Catholic Church, they chose to donate some of their lands to build a convent. Whilst, another nearby neighbor donated some of his lands to build a church, christened Nuestra Se?ora del Pilar. It was then when the now truly devoted area, began to exhibit a religious feel.
The Recoleta friars were the religious order in charge both of the convent and the Church. Following the catholic tradition, the friars buried the Christians in the surrounding land around the church. This was the first hint to a Recoleta Cemetery, for the church’s graveyard was managed by the Recoleta Catholic order.
Time went by and the population in the Northern area of the city grew at a superb rate, this was no longer a Ranch area, but more of a sophisticated upper class quarter. The Porte?an society lived in luxury and opulence and required a graveyard to the standards…
Soon came the Independence revolution. Argentina was to become a nation and the nation was to be built under strong principles. The Recoleta as a catholic order, left Argentina and returned to their motherland… their lands were set apart by General Marin Rodriguez, Don Bernardino Rivadavia’s ministry, to work as the first public cemetery in Argentina in November 17th 1822. Only 24hs after the order, the first two honorable burials took place Juan Benito and Maria Dolores Maciel.
The first blueprints were traced by Engeneer Prospero Catelin. There were differential burials and niches, per period, to eternity and some others were reserved for outstanding government personalities.
The Recoleta cemetery was born then. In 1881, under the directions of Don Torcuato de Alvear - who would also be the man in charge of modernizing the facade of Buenos Aires, turning up the 19th century French like feel the city still beholds to the present- would remodel the cemetery with Architect Juan Antonio Buschiazzo.
The cemetery began to be the monument to society and eternity that it is today, but it was just the beginning.
To be continued in PART 2
This was a very common tradition within the expedition companies, for the soldiers and men at arms received no pay for their services until final conquest and take of possession of the land “discovered”.
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