The list of occupants of Recoleta Cemetery reads like a Who’s Who of Argentine history & society. The elite, an aspiring middle class, friends, enemies & those who contributed to the general welfare of Argentina all share space in a miniature city of mausoleums & monuments.
During a visit, you’ll stroll past Presidents & politicians (some naughty, some nice), Nobel Prize winners, literary greats, entertainers, scientists, military leaders, sports figures & even some who died tragically. The cemetery’s most famous resident, Eva María Duarte de Perón —simply Evita to her devotées— even had a bizarre post-mortem journey before finally resting in peace in Recoleta.
Two cases of copyright infringement related to the content of this blog & its corresponding PDF guide to Recoleta Cemetery have recently come to our attention. Although we have initiated claims as well as contacted the parties who used our material without permission, we doubt a resolution will be ruled in our favor. At least as owners of this blog & all the material herein, we can leave record of these cases… & hope we’ll never add to this list!
I rarely watch YouTube videos about Recoleta Cemetery, but a few months ago a random recommendation seemed interesting: a 26-minute video in English with excellent photography. While watching, I thought: wow, this guy has done his research. Then the voice-over commentary began to sound all too familiar. Ah yes, channel owner David Owens purchased the PDF guide in November 2017. My guide was not the only source material used, but in many places Mr. Owens quoted the guide’s text directly without any change. Also, the general organization of his video closely follows that of the PDF.
After reporting this video to YouTube, they asked for additional specifics. I rewatched the video to take note of exact usage & could only make it through 18 minutes. It’s disheartening to see your own hard work & decades of investigation claimed by someone else. I sent the list below to YouTube to establish a claim, complete with phrases used, minute marks & corresponding pages of the PDF:
“branch of Franciscan monks” 01:36 (page 07)
“grassy plots with simple tombstones… a number of early modest tombs” 02:38 (page 09)
Exact statistics (55000 square kilometres, 4700 tombs, 350000 departed) 03:48 (page 07) – no one ever agrees on these numbers & the tomb count comes from my own investigation
“1946 tombstone” + “fading relief of her father” 6:00 (page 18)
“crucifix placed above a small altar with recently deceased in caskets beneath” 07:25 (page 10)
“metal grate in the floor” 09:07 (page 10)
“network of lookout stations connected by telegraph to major forts in what was indigenous territory” 11:53 (page 24)
“battles against Brazil… forged from a cannon from one of his ships” 12:58 (page 53)
“actually buried in the church beside the cemetery” 13:54 (page 52)
“founded War College in 1900” 15:14 (page 42)
“made life better in Buenos Aires by improving city sanitation” 16:55 (page 20)
“to help establish US teaching” 17:05 (page 29)
“record of 32 wins out of 38 title matches” 17:43 (page 29)
These direct quotes demonstrate that Mr. Owens did not use my guide as a resource for a derivative work but rather lifted whatever text he needed to produce the video. In several other instances, my text had been slightly reworded yet I recognized it as mine. Initially I also thought some of the photos used had also come from this blog or from my Flickr account, but fortunately all images appear to be Mr. Owens own material.
Regardless, what shocked me most was no mention of this blog nor the PDF guide. No credit where credit is due… as if Mr. Owens became an expert on this particular cemetery overnight. I wonder if he is being paid by YouTube & what percentage belongs to me.
In 2011, Sergio López Martínez asked if I would participate in a massive national project to catalog Argentina’s architectural heritage. Of course I agreed. His particular interest was in a set of photographs on a separate blog which I’d taken of the interior of the Confitería del Molino. At the time, the building had been closed to the general public & was in real danger of disintegrating into rubble. But for one week in 2004, the city government commandeered the former café & pastry shop to allow visitors inside. I sent him the photos I had, & they appeared in the series… along with a thank you credit + an invite to the formal release of the first book:
If I hadn’t been planning a move to Esquel, I would have used those connections to participate in more projects. But I left for Patagonia & couldn’t even get a hard copy of the volume with my photos. Years have passed —now I’m living in Sevilla— but find online the two-part book series pictured above: Monumentos Históricos Nacionales de la República Argentina (Ciudad de Buenos Aires). An update of a previous publication, Sergio wrote the section for Recoleta Cemetery as well as took most of the photos. On further examination, two photos looked very familiar… but he takes full credit:
In both cases, a lack of concern for fellow researchers/investigators is evident. I have been paid for many images as well as written for several publications. I have also freely given the rights to use my images on request… it all depends on who asks & for what purpose they would be used. This blog has been online since 2007 & takes no small effort to maintain. PDF sales each year fund its upkeep & provide the most complete online resource about Recoleta Cemetery in any language. Please consider that when using information or images from an independent webpage: ask for permission, offer compensation or give credit where due! This list will grow as needed but with a little respect, that won’t be necessary.
Although not fans of Phil Rosenthal, we’re very pleased he took time to visit Recoleta Cemetery. As part of the Netflix series “Somebody Feed Phil”, episode 3 of the second season took him to Buenos Aires. The cemetery even becomes the main image of the city on Rosenthal’s website:
This travel & food show often takes a break to show some of the city they are featuring. In between eating all manner of choripan with Allie Lazar & a Perón-worshipping steak feast —roughly after the 10:30 mark— Rosenthal strolls inside the main entrance gate of Recoleta Cemetery:
As he ponders the cemetery’s beautiful character, he also visits the mausoleum of Eva Perón. No singing of musical songs fortunately:
Next, someone off-camera recounts an abbreviated version of the tragic story of Rufina Cambacérès… which he finds particularly depressing:
Finally, Rosenthal himself tells viewers about the trials & tribulations of the Del Carril family. Hoping his wife does not wish to turn away from him when they pass away, the visit to Recoleta Cemetery ends.
First aired in July 2018, we would have liked more screen time for Recoleta Cemetery. Naturally. But in a program about food, two minutes of a 55-minute program is very generous & serves to introduce more people to this fascinating place. Thanks, Phil!
With so many well-documented leaders buried in Recoleta Cemetery, finding a family mausoleum with little trace in public records is rare… but such is the case of Coronel Ramón F. Bravo. Tucked down an alley not far from Eva Perón, few tourists see this wonderful —if shortened— statue of Bravo decked out in full military regalia:
Signed & dated 1931, the statue is the only work in the cemetery by art critic, painter & sculptor Vicente Roselli. Just like Bravo, Roselli has also faded from memory… most likely due to the theft of his most visible sculpture in Buenos Aires. Titled “Adolescence”, the life-size male nude stood in Parque Chacabuco from 1928 until 1978. The military dictatorship bulldozed through many parts of the city to make room for highways, & the park lost much of its elegance & artwork. Later rescued from a warehouse, the sculpture decorated Plaza Palermo Viejo until its theft in 1991. Probably melted down for scrap, no one knows what really happened:
The little we know of Coronel Bravo’s life comes from the beautiful plaque that sits opposite his statue. Born in 1850, he saw plenty of military action during the war against Paraguay as well as campaigns in Entre Ríos during a complicated civil war. He passed away in 1915:
An internet search turned up a few interesting but random facts: Bravo helped administer the 1904 census (screen capture below), & he seemed to be involved in some aspect of education in Buenos Aires. A residence located at Avenida Santa Fe 5217 put his family right by what would later become the Ministro Carranza subway station.
With such a large, beautiful mausoleum plus a statue by an important artist, surely there’s more to Coronel Bravo’s life than we’ve been able to uncover. If anyone has additional information, please share it with us here. We love a good mystery, but we also enjoy solving them!
How does a simple burial place transform into a national monument? Oscar Andrés de Masi answers this question by examining the archives & internal debates of the first organization created to watch over Argentina’s complicated legacy.
Preservation & maintenance of historical/cultural heritage became a major concern for many countries at the beginning of the 20th century. National commissions around the world formed in order to control, recover & spread the word about those places which helped form the unique identity of each country. Argentina established the Comisión Nacional de Museos y Lugares Históricos in 1938 to manage this huge undertaking.
Fully operational by 1940, funerary heritage had yet to become part of the broader definition of national heritage. At first only founding fathers & their families were deemed worthy of such commemoration, but questions soon began to emerge. What if the person’s remains had been moved after burial? Does the empty tomb still constitute national heritage? Who has jurisdiction over those remains: family descendants or the nation?
Eventually the nation claimed all rights, & cenotaphs were also considered patrimony. The definition of who to include grew as well, as later decades added other figures who had left a mark on Argentine society. Early years of the CNMLH also revived the idea of building a National Pantheon (1834 design by Italian architect Carlo Zucchi pictured below), but in the end Recoleta Cemetery took over that function.
The most valuable part of the book contains photographs of 35 tombs —the majority in Recoleta Cemetery— taken by the Hans Mann photo studio in 1944. Commissioned for use in a book to be published by the CNMLH, these pictures came to light in 2010 during a reorganization of the Commission’s photo archive:
Overall book design could be better, but one criticism above all: a list of all declared funeral heritage sites is in alphabetical order… by first name or by title. This methodology makes the list difficult for a reader to use. See the sample page below where titles like canónigo, capitan or coronel come first. Our list for Recoleta Cemetery is organized by year of decree + last name.
Many thanks to Marcelo for finding this book published in 2012 & shipping it twice to Spain!
Filmed almost exclusively in Argentina, Highlander 2might be the worst movie of all time. The general public wasn’t ready for a climate-disaster science fiction film in the 1990s, nor did they approve of making Immortals from the first movie into aliens. Sets resemble copies of Ridley Scott productions (think Alien or Blade Runner) & the special effects… well, they aren’t that special. Recoleta Cemetery gets a cameo though, so we’ll have to sit through a few minutes of footage.
At 1:02 in the director’s cut, Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) visits the grave of his wife, Brenda, who died from solar radiation exposure. No ozone layer = millions of deaths. A flashback scene then shows Connor at Brenda’s bedside in a makeshift hospital. Just before she dies, Brenda makes Connor promise to do something to end humanity’s suffering. End of flashback. As Connor talks to Brenda’s grave, General Katana (played by Michael Ironside) appears & congratulates Connor for talking to the dead.
After kissing a statue of an angel on the tomb of Virgilio M. Tedín, Connor & Katana do a bit of verbal sparring that does not turn into a fight… because their “golden rule” is not to fight on holy ground. On cue, a priest followed by a funeral procession interrupts their conversation & drives the point home:
Katana’s advice to Connor before disappearing is: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. If you don’t take it out & use it, it’s going to rust.” His sword, that is. Connor then walks off screen.
Filmed in the back section of the cemetery, set designers came up with an interesting way to hide adjacent apartment buildings: tarps covered with extra plant life. Bizarre but effective. They’ve added quite a bit of greenery to the surrounding tombs as well to provide a bit of atmosphere. Otherwise we’d see windows & endless air conditioning units:
Brenda’s tomb —which Katana steps on & damages— is a prop set in front of the Art Deco grave of Rufino de Elizalde. Location scouts did a good job in selecting this spot… Art Deco fits in the movie’s aesthetic, & this is one of the few spots in the cemetery that has perspective. The white sculpture at the very end on the right belongs to Juan Alberto Lartigau.
Some blame the economic situation of Argentina in the early 1990s for the film’s failure. Investors took creative control of the film to save money, introduced random changes & broke continuity with the previous movie’s story. Whatever the reason, at least we have one more moment of time in Recoleta Cemetery captured on film forever.