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Endless Mile, Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery guide

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.

Want to learn more? Get all the details in our highly-recommended pdf guide. The authors of this blog are proud to have guided more than 1,500 people through Recoleta Cemetery… join in!

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527. historic photo 10

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Arturo W. Boote

Photo by Arturo W. Boote, exact date unknown but sometime around the end of the 19th century. From the angle, this photo was likely taken from the adjacent Iglesia de Pilar, perhaps from the bell tower.

Samuel Boote (1844-1921) y Arturo Woods Boote (1861-1936) were brothers, both first generation Argentines of a large English immigrant family. Raised on ranches in the Provincia de Buenos Aires, they eventually moved to the capital & became the most famous photographers of the 1880s. A decade later they had traveled through much of Argentina, leaving a valuable photographic record for us today. By 1900 both brothers left the photography business to pursue other ventures, but at least they left a reminder of what they experienced at Recoleta Cemetery over 100 years ago.

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516. keeping up appearances

Recoleta Cemetery, Carroza or carriage for funeral services

The show must go on… even if you aren’t around to see it. Important funeral homes like Lazaro Costa offered rental carriages for grand processions to Recoleta Cemetery. The above photo appeared as an advertisement in the society magazine “Caras & Caretas” with the following text:

For 200 pesos, a good funeral service with four horses & a footman, including an imitation mahogany coffin, open casket service, liveried carriages, notices placed in newspapers, etc.

Although a friend sent me this photo & did not record the publication date, surely this is from the early 20th century. Assuming this could be from 1915, 200 pesos would be the equivalent of $83 USD, or $1,930 USD in today’s currency!

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498. asociación española de socorros mutuos

Buenos Aires, Balvanera, ex-Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos

A favorite photo from the Colección Witcomb shows quite a different Recoleta Cemetery than the one that can be visited today. A few façades & domes remain to provide orientation, but sadly what was likely the largest mausoleum of that time no longer exists:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Colección Witcomb

Its identity remained uncertain until the following clip appeared in the excellent collection of images curated by Argentina Vintage:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Panteón de la Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos

Just what I’d been looking for! A bit of research & a similar photo can be found in society magazine Caras y Caretas for Columbus Day, Día de la Raza, Día de la Hispanidad… a.k.a. October 12th.

As self-help organizations grew along with immigration, so did the need for burial space. The Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos moved to Chacarita in 1896, eventually selling their group pantheon in Recoleta. Although demolished today, the new mausoleum by architect Alejandro Christophersen proved to be even more luxurious.

Chacarita Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos, Alejandro Christophersen

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481. cementerio alemán

Cementerio Alemán, entrance, Juan Kronfuss

The Cementerio Alemán opened along with its neighbor, the British Cemetery, in 1892. German Protestants had the same difficulty as other non-Catholic immigrant groups in finding a suitable place for burials. Hungarian architect Juan Kronfuss designed the entrance in 1926, & the chapel contains extraordinary stained glass windows from Franz Mayer in Munich. The greenery & perfectly manicured plots make for a nice break from the hectic vibe of Chacarita.

Cementerio Alemán, chapel

Cementerio Alemán, chapel

One of its most famous graves belongs to Capt. Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff, commander of the armored vessel Admiral Graf Spee. Damaged in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate off the coast of Montevideo, Langsdorff scuttled the ship & his crew were taken prisoner. Transferred to Buenos Aires, Langsdorff committed suicide two days later. Some of the crew passed away—waiting out the end of the war in either Argentina or Uruguay—& are also buried here.

Cementerio Alemán, Graf Spee crew

Cementerio Alemán, Capt Hans Langdorff

Cementerio Alemán, Graf Spee crew

The crew of the Graf Spee are not the only Nazis interred there. Rodolfo Freude formed part of Perón’s secret service & is thought to have been one of the organizers behind ODESSA. He died in 2003, & the full story of bringing Nazis & Nazi wealth into Argentina may have died with him.

Other notable figures: Swimmer Jeanette Campbell was the first Argentine to win an Olympic medal… ironically at the 1936 Berlin games. Photographer Annemarie Heinrich took some of the most well-known portraits of celebrities & politicians, including my favorite images of Tita Merello & Eva Perón:

Eva Perón by Annemarie Heinrich

Tita Merello by Annemarie Heinrich

Architect Carlos (Karl) Nordmann designed the Legislature of the city of La Plata, along with its museum & other fine works throughout the country.

Legislatura, La Plata, Carlos Nordmann

La Plata, museo, Karl Nordmann

Alexander Asboth, a Hungarian immigrant to the USA, commanded Union troops during the Civil War. He later became US ambassador to Argentina & Uruguay, dying in Buenos Aires. Asboth was initially buried in the Cementerio Alemán, but his remains were transferred to Arlington National Cemetery in 1990. The original tombstone can be found by the entrance:

Cementerio Alemán, Alexander Asboth

A few other pics… there are some fantastic works of art, mostly near the entrance:

Cementerio Alemán, Familie Müller

Cementerio Alemán

Cementerio Alemán, World War monument

Although sharing the same gigantic plot of land as Chacarita Cemetery, walls separate the Cementerio Alemán from Chacarita. The only entrance is along Avenida El Cano, near the intersection of Avenida del Campo.

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Other Buenos Aires cemeteries: Cementerio del SurChacaritaSan José de FloresCementerio de los Disidentes Cementerio BritánicoCementerio Alemán

Photo of the Legislatura in La Plata by Marcelo Metayer.

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