Most people find cemeteries morbid and depressing, but I find them extremely fascinating. As long as no one I know is buried there and the cemetery isn’t anywhere near where I live, I’m usually not freaked out. So when we pulled up to the Recoleta Cemetery as a part of the Buenos Aires tour, I wasn’t bothered one bit.

I looked up at the words on the gate as we were pulling up and it didn’t say El cementerio de La Recoleta, it said “Requiescant in Pace.” Requiescant in Pace? I used a search engine on my phone to look it up and results said the phrase is what appears on headstones as RIP. I thought it was Rest in Peace, but that’s the translation from the end of the Roman Catholic prayer at a burial service. That was an interesting little fact, so I knew the cemetery must have lots more to offer.

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This place was like a little city in the middle of a BIG city! I knew this was the final resting place for Eva Perón, but there were also lots of other famous people buried here. There were ex-presidents, high-ranking military and political officials, celebrities, just all kinds of people. The most interesting part was that there were a lot of headstones that dated back to the 1700s. People have been buried here for almost four centuries. I wonder if there’s anything left in the caskets besides dust.

As we continued walking, the headstones became more elaborate. The most memorable was the Tomb of Liliana Crociati. Hers has a life-sized statue of Liliana petting her dog. She was really loved and missed by her family! But trust me, Liliana’s wasn’t the only over-the-top spot. Some memorials were made of marble or bronze, some were as tall as buildings, and some were like houses. I believe the house-style sites were for entire families.

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Of course the tour guides want to tell you about the ghost stories as they take you around the cemetery. They said the night watchman built his own tomb here at the cemetery, and then when it was complete, he killed himself in the tomb. To this day he can be seen at night, guarding the cemetery. Some stories included people being buried alive. Others included people going in and never coming out. The sillier ones included tourists. You know, stories to scare us before we went home. I didn’t buy into any of that though. I knew they were just stories. I was, however, thoroughly entertained. Now I have some more stories to tell around the campfire!

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Activities:

  1. Who was Eva Perón?
  2. ¡A investigar! Visit the website http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumba_de_Liliana_Crociati_de_Szaszak to see Liliana’s Crociati’s tomb. Try to find her dog’s name in the text.