During five days in Buenos Aires early this month, I visited Recoleta Cemetery four times. There is simply no way to describe it.
Laid out in 1822 and enlarged at least five times since with gridded extensions, Recoleta has become what the English tour guide described as the most expensive real estate in Buenos Aires. There are very few, if any, vacant lots. If you find one that is empty or essentially abandoned, it’s available for about $60k but it’s taxable, so be prepared to set up an escrow account to pay the annual real estate taxes.
There are a few notable residents, including Eva Peron, but most of them would be unknown to a gringo audience such as we were. Despite its crowding and nearly bi-centennial status, however, there are ongoing burials. We saw inscriptions attesting to interments within the last five years. But look elsewhere for Protestants or Jews; this is an exclusively Roman Catholic city of the dead.
Other than hoards of tourists, the other permanent residents are feral cats, which inspired a design project that may finally get me in the mood for coping with the three cemeteries at Agincourt (The Shades, Saint Ahab’s and the Hebrew Burial Ground). It seemed to me that all those cats deserved far more than they were likely to get from the current management: being swept up and thrown out with the trash when their short lives were over. I found an under-utilised plot, less than two meters wide, that will become a mausoleum for those careworn cats who keep down the rodent population.
Perhaps they’d like it to be called a mouse-oleum instead.
[…] 2011 June 22: It was pleasant to revisit Recoleta, the world-class cemetery in Buenos Aires, that we’d seen earlier in the month. There was no danger of The Shades becoming anything like Recoleta, but I can dream, can’t I. […]