Recoleta Cemetery: Where Everyone is Dying to Get in

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Chris and I visited Recoleta Cemetery on a day that threatened to rain but somehow visiting a cemetery on a cloudy day seems fitting.

Or does it?

We took a cab to the Recoleta neighbourhood, while many consider Argentina to be one of the safest countries in South America, it seems that Buenos Aires has been one city where I’ve felt the least safe.

It’s not a dismal and dreary place at all. Recoleta Cemetery seems more like a public park than a place of mourning.  

Today the elite of Buenos Aires – rich, powerful, famous and dead are found on these grounds which makes for a fascinating afternoon to walk around.

recoleta cemetary

Recoleta Cemetery

The grounds are so large they are organized into areas that resemble city blocks and while it can be overwhelming to see such large structures the beauty is really in the details.

recoleta cemetary
recoleta cemetery
recoleta cemetery

We first wandered the grounds looking at the intricate details of the tombs. There are 4800 tombs on site, all above ground.

How they choose to decorate the tombs differs from brightly coloured stained glass to more morbid skulls.

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Perhaps the drastic design differences reflect the gentrification of the grounds. Once a public cemetery, that all changed in the 1870s.

To avoid the yellow fever epidemic the wealthy moved out of central Buenos Aires for northern Recoleta and also claimed the burial grounds.

recoleta cemetery
recoleta cemetery

Although you can see many different architectual styles there is a strong Greek influence throughout.

Some of the tombs are as large as small houses with altar-like statues that would rival cathedrals in the area. It seems that the wealthy do not spare any expense when it comes to their death.

While many famous people have been buried here everyone comes looking for the most famous of all – Eva Peron – better known as Evita.

There are massive tombs throughout Recoleta Cemetery, Evita’s family is in a rather modest mausoleum that is hard to find.

Wisely instead of just wandering aimlessly through La Recoleta for hours Chris and I decided to follow the crowds and sure enough we found her.

Recoleta cemetery, one of the most popular tourist attractions with the remains of Eva Peron known as
recoleta cemetary
recoleta cemetary
recoleta cemetary

It was weird.

When we found it and I saw so many people getting their photo taken with the tomb. I wondered why I was hunting down a stranger’s woman’s grave.

I know no more of her than Madonna’s movie – well actually Madonna’s music video as I haven’t seen the movie.

It felt inappropriate taking photos of her crypt. I know she’s beloved by the people and is an important political figure. That is all.

My gloomy mood changed when I read the notes people left for her. While she means nothing to me because I haven’t taken the time to learn about her, she did mean a lot to other people.

I wasn’t interested in visiting the museum dedicated to her before but now I am intrigued.

Join the Conversation

  1. ColeHaber says:

    These photos are amazing. Completely gorgeous.

  2. Wow, what a gorgeous cemetery. I love wandering through cemeteries with a camera, especially in Autumn when the leaves are scattered over the ground. I remember being in Paris and looking for Jim Morrison’s grave and Oscar Wilde with the kisses and all over it…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Real kisses with lipstick on Wilde’s grave, I thought he played for the other team…

  3. Seattle Dredge says:

    That is a LOT of tombs.. they are beautiful though, and your photos are amazing. I especially love that skull tomb :]

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know it was so hard to choose which photos to include as there was so much to see.

  4. santafetraveler says:

    Latin cultures have a great attitude towards death. I love Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. These are fantastic photos. I really want to go to BA and I’ll put this on my list- wouldn’t normally have been. Thanks!

  5. I don’t know too much about Eva Peron either though I’m fascinated to learn more about her (and avoid that Madonna film because Madonna + film = I’m not interested :S ).

    I love taking walks through cemetaries. Everyone I know thinks that’s strange but there’s something so beautiful and calm about them and I love looking at the different tombs and gravestones. The only thing that botheres me is when people hang windchimes in the trees of cemetaries. The sound of those among the graves is actually kind of eery.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Your equation is so true, it made me laugh.

  6. I loved loved walking through this cemetery. We even found a Figueroa place of resting which Mike found highly amusing. Your pictures rock. I wish I had a better camera when I was there.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There’s always time to come back 🙂

  7. Justin Hamlin says:

    Reminds me of the cemeteries in New Orleans with the above-ground mausoleums, really intriguing how they are all different, from very plain to very intricate.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Some of them were insanely large, near mansions. It was fascinating to see how people wanted decadence, even in death.

  8. David Webb says:

    Beautiful pics. I too have wondered about the appropriateness of photographing historic tombstones… but I’ve decided it’s OK. In a weird way, it’s even respectful. After all, if someone wants a picture next to your grave, you must have been pretty memorable, right?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was just the tracking down of her grave without knowing her that felt weird. She draws crowds all day long.

  9. The Compulsive Traveler says:

    I thought Recoleta Cemetery was really beautiful but creepy at the same time. The fact that the tombs are above the ground, usually stacked on top of each other, made me shiver a couple of times.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can see that, especially the ones that you can look into and see the coffins.

  10. The Travel Chica says:

    Gloomy sky makes for good cemetery pictures.

    The Evita Museum is definitely worth it. I knew nothing about her either. I was really impressed, and I can now understand why she is such a beloved figure here.

    1. I was told that the cafe at Museo Evita is very good.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Great tip, I’ll have to check it out.

  11. Jeremy Branham says:

    I have to admit that I don’t know much about Evita. Like you, I haven’t seen the Madonna movie either but I know she is revered. Talking with some locals would probably be good on this to get some perspective. However, your pun was horrible! I just about died when I read the title!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know but I warned you it was bad. It’s almost so bad it’s really good.

  12. Gareth Leonard says:

    The Recoleta Cemetery is so dead this time of year…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:


  13. There quite a few historical figures buries in Recoleta too. For example, Remedios de Escalada, wife of Gen. Jose de San Martin, Argentina’s top independence hero.

    I too visit historic cemeteries whenever I’m in a new city. I wonder why…

  14. There are quite a few historical figures buries in Recoleta too. For example, Remedios de Escalada, wife of Gen. Jose de San Martin, Argentina’s top independence hero.

    I too visit historic cemeteries whenever I’m in a new city. I wonder why…

  15. Nomadic Chick says:

    Ir’s fascinating the level of detail dependant on family status and wealth. Evita’s tomb is very modest.

    I’m curious to see Jim Morrison’s resting place in/near Paris.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Did you know Alexander Keith’s grave is purposely hidden in Halifax so drunks don’t go congregate there.

      1. Nomadic Chick says:

        No, did not. Aw, I like a cold Keith. What I just found out recently is he was a Freemason. Now, that’s spooky.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Really I had no idea, that’s kind of creepy.

  16. I know her story, I know why she was loved by the people: she fought for the rights of the low class and women.

    But I always enter in discussion: how can you consider that she was a good person and a good politic who did a lot for the country while it’s proved that she had bankaccounts in Switserland with money stolen from the taxpayers/country… And while it is known that she and her husband (not openly) suported Hitler in the second world war

  17. I love the headline on this post .. 🙂

    Cemetaries on a gloomy day are definitely intriguing! 🙂

  18. Your photos really capture the mood and the beauty of the cemetery (is it morbid to call a cemetery beautiful?).

    I know what you mean, there are plenty of things I come across in Europe that I unfortunately for one reason or another, haven’t studied enough to appreciate. But I guess that’s all part of how travel educates us!

  19. Katherina says:

    I only saw the Cemetery from the outside… as I’m not a big fan of hunted places – I may or may not sleep for days after that… even if it was during day light! (I’m weird…).
    But compliments to the great pictures! They look so gloomy – not sure if that’s the right translation in english… I mean “tétrico” 🙂

  20. Evita’s tomb is really weird. Why would you want your photo taken with a tomb? I think it’s fine to leave notes and flowers but a photo? Really? It’s not a cardboard cut out of a movie star!

  21. Debbie Beardsley says:

    I really enjoy old cemetaries like this one! Sounds crazy but the artistry included in some of the head stones and statues is beautiful.

  22. We really liked Recoletta, it’s kinda creepy but so unique

  23. Kirsten Alana says:

    It “kills me” 😉 that I got there on a day when I only had my iPhone and then my iPhone was stolen the next day. I had some truly stunning iPhone photographs and wanted to go back with my 5DmII but no way, not after the robberies. It was a truly stunning place, so much to look at everywhere one turned.

  24. Great shots, Ayngelina! It’s so weird that cemeteries can be such beautiful places to spend time in…I’ve watched so much Buffy that I’ve always figured they’d be creepy but in my experience they’re not really.

  25. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    Cemetaries like this are why I do not want to be cremated…put me in a tomb baby!

  26. Cheryl Howard says:

    Umm, wow. Amazing photos! I can’t believe such a place exists … I want to go there someday. The detailing is so beautiful yet morbid at the same time.

  27. Mark Wiens says:

    That effect on the photos is amazing! Kind of a morbid place, but it does offer the opportunity to learn about some of Argentina’s previous elite.

  28. Love old cemeteries. It’s amazing how a place full of dead people can be so beautiful. Great photos!

  29. I always like to visit cemeteries, they show so much about localculture.Glorious pictures and yes, a very enticing title.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This is by far the most glamorous cemetery I have been to so far.

  30. Did you find it a bit strange to see so many people smiling at a cemetery? Or is it that grande that it’s lost that morbid cemetery feel?

    The gloomy day definitely helped with some great photos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I felt strange about posing with the plaques but really it is a grand park to walk around.

  31. It seems a little creepy to be hunting down a famous dead persons grave and then getting pictures with a tomb. Sounds like a nice cemetery, but a little strange.

  32. I loved this post! The photographs are fantastic. I have been to some great cemeteries in Europe, but it’s always a strange feeling to see so much beauty and money in a place of the dead.

  33. I always thought it’s weird to visit cemeteries – let alone take pictures next to tombs!

  34. I’d feel a little uneasy taking photographs of people’s crypts, too. Almost would feel like I’m making a souvignier out of someone’s final resting place. But it seems like this cemetery is more lively than lamenting. Is it weird for me to think it looks fun?

  35. Happy Homemaker UK says:

    I went there over 10 years ago while visiting my sister. I had totally forgotten that part of the trip – thank you for jogging my memory! XOL

  36. adventureswithben says:

    I think it’s okay to take photos of a cemetery, but I avoid photos of people praying – out of respect.

  37. I can’t help being drawn to cemeteries either! They’re beautiful. Especially this one.

  38. crazy sexy fun traveler says:

    The pics look scary and misterious 🙂

  39. Cornelius Aesop says:

    I always feel odd visiting cemeteries, add a dreary day to the mix and I don’t know. However they are often home to some very beautiful artwork.

  40. I lived a block away from here for a few months. Went here far too many times. There’s a few good spots there I use to go to often.

  41. Beautiful photos! You really captured a mood there. It reminds me of the cemetaries in New orleans.
    I’ve wanted to go to BA for so long now, but haven’t made it there yet. Someday soon I hope…

  42. A Kiwi in Chile says:

    A morbid as it may seem, cemeteries are a great place to visit, especially the older ones.

    Did you see many cats at the Recoleta cemetery? There seemed to be hoards of them when we went, also we also got sucked into looking for Evita’s tomb… we just followed the other tourists and knew we had arrived when we saw a mob fighting to take photos.
    Rob W.

  43. Ian [EagerExistence] says:

    Im really impressed with these photographs. Any post production?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Ian. They always go through Adobe Lightroom for some tweaks but I try not to mess with them too much.

  44. I felt the same way when we were there. It’s sort of macabre to walking amongst those graves…even though they are like pieces of art. When we were there, I remember a bunch of stray cats running around too. Hope you enjoyed your day!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I heard there were tons of cats but didn’t see any of them, I don’t mind missing out on that.

  45. Camels & Chocolate says:

    So pretty! I’ve written about Recoleta many times before, but alas, never been…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You must go! Stephanie also recently wrote about another great cemetery here. Kind of weird they are such great attractions.

  46. Theodora says:

    Wow! And I thought the Chinese cemetery in Manila was crazy. I think Evita’s tomb is worth seeing as a phenomenon — and she’s well worth reading about, as well.

  47. Donna Hull says:

    Recoleta is beautiful, especially considering that it’s a cemetery. The most vivid memory from my visit were the cats peaking around from every corner.

  48. Love the little details you find in the cemetery. The onyl cemetery I went during a trip was in Boston for the freedom trail tour. It happen to be on my birthday . Celebrating birth and revisiting the dead. Odd right : )

  49. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    I was in the same boat sistah friend… I also got really creeped out by tombs that were open and you could see the casket and such… eeeeeeeg

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The tombs are a bit odd, especially the ones you can go walk down and visit the dead people.

  50. Barbara Koistinen says:

    I loved Recoleta Cemetery. Tho my favourite cemetery is still Milan’s Cimiterio monumentale! Eva’s Museum is well worth a visit. I thought I knew quite a bit about her, but I learned a lot more at the museum.

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