525. statue down

15 Feb 2017


From the Argentine national news agency Télam

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Pedro de Anchorena, acidente

A 30-year old tourist was injured today when he fell along with a statue that he had climbed on in order to take photos in Recoleta Cemetery. Information comes from SAME (Sistema de Atención Médica de Emergencias, the EMTs for Buenos Aires), the Ministry of Environment & Public Space, & from Rivadavia Hospital.

Some witnesses who saw the fall said that it happened around 14:00, &, after identifying the young man as a tourist from the Spanish city of Málaga, they explained that the accident took place when he climbed on one of the two marble sculptures that “guard” the entrance to the Pedro de Anchorena vault.

“The sculpture separated from its base & fell, taking the young man with it”, informed a city government official who assured that there are signs on-site in the cemetery which state “it is forbidden to climb structures”.

According to city government sources, the tourist “is out of danger” after being immediately treated by SAME, who sent the patient to Rivadavia Hospital for evaluation.

“The young man showed early signs of trauma to the thorax & was later evaluated by the emergency room in Rivadavia Hospital”, said the spokesperson for SAME, Alberto Crescenti, just after the accident.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Pedro de Anchorena, acidente

The sculpture that fell “could not have done so by itself. That would have been impossible for a statue like that. Someone must have climbed on it”, said Raúl Rivas, who organizes guided visits & is familiar with the cemetery’s architecture.

According to the guide, “the aged, white marble sculpture, no more than 1.5 meters tall, is one of two female figures in sorrow with a small bouquet of flowers in their hands that ‘guarded’ the entrance of the Pedro de Anchorena vault, a member of the well-known & powerful landowning Argentine family”.

The sculptures that frame the entrance of the Anchorena vault, according to Rivas, have a base that is proportional to the rest of piece, so it “is impossible that it would fall without an external force”.

The Pedro de Anchorena vault is located in the Sector 1 of the cemetery, to the left-hand side after the entrance gate & leading to monuments dedicated to Facundo Quiroga & Sarmiento.

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Marcelo & I struggled to come up with an accurate-but-nonjudgmental title for this post. In the end, this is just one more cultural loss due to stupidity. The accident reminds me of a similar incident in Lisboa last year at the Rossio train station. This should go without saying, but just in case: Please respect Recoleta Cemetery while visiting so its artistic legacy can endure.

Photo credits to news agencies Télam & DyN.

524. famous visitors

27 Oct 2016

Buenos Aires attracts millions of tourists every year & among those are quite a few celebrities. Whether in BA for promotion, performance or just to relax, many see the city’s top attractions. However, only few have left a public record of their visit to Recoleta Cemetery.

One of the oldest celebrity photos we’ve found online is from Liza Minnelli‘s visit in 1993. Below, she leaves flowers for Eva Perón:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Liza Minnelli

During a Rolling Stones concert tour, Mick Jagger strolled through the cemetery apparently unnoticed in February 2016… except for staff taking photos for his Twitter account:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Mick Jagger

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Mick Jagger

Ashton Kutcher traveled to Buenos Aires in March 2016 to promote his latest series The Ranch. He really made the rounds, as Armando Besada posted in Instagram:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ashton Kutcher

A surprising omission: Madonna first visited Argentina in 1993 during the Girlie Show World Tour, then returned three years later to film Alan Parker’s version of the musical Evita. Amazingly, no photo ever surfaced of her visiting Eva Perón’s mausoleum. Did she go undercover? After hours? Would that have even been possible? Madonna brought the Sticky & Sweet Tour to Buenos Aires in 2008 & finished the MDNA Tour in 2012 in Argentina. Although she didn’t miss a photo-op with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner & another visit to the Casa Rosada, there has never been a public photo released of Madonna in Recoleta Cemetery.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Madonna, CFK

Did we miss a celebrity? Send a photo along with details, & we’ll add them to this list.

523. familia de emilio saint

03 Aug 2016

Recoleta Cemetery, Emilio Saint, Águila

Roasting coffee beans & making chocolate turned French immigrant Abel Saint into one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Buenos Aires. His business which began in 1880 grew quickly & after a couple of moves around Buenos Aires, the main factory for El Águila settled in the neighborhood of Barracas. Unfortunately Abel passed away two years before the factory opened in 1894, leaving the company to his son, Emilio.

Recoleta Cemetery, Emilio Saint, Águila

In 1905—less than ten years after taking charge of the company—Emilio launched another factory in Uruguay as well as began exporting chocolate to Paraguay. Águila continued to diversify under Emilio’s direction (with over 100 different products!) but gained fame from making chocolate tablets that could be broken into bars… perfect for the classic hot chocolate beverage called a submarino.

Recoleta Cemetery, Emilio Saint, Aguila chocolate

For most of the 20th century, Águila did very well & became a hallmark, national brand. But diet fads of the 1980s reduced the consumption of chocolate, & the company was sold to food industry giant Arcor in 1993. However Arcor maintained the Águila brand, & it continues to be one of the most popular chocolates in Argentina. Much of the main factory has been demolished, but a few remnants exist to keep the memory of the Saint family alive:

Buenos Aires, Barracas, El Águila, chocolate

Buenos Aires, Barracas, El Águila, chocolate

Buenos Aires, Barracas, El Águila, chocolate

Besides his involvement with the family business, Emilio Saint became president of the Automóvil Club Argentino from 1931 until his death four years later. He oversaw one of the most difficult eras for ACA, following the 1929 world economic crisis. Under Saint’s leadership, the club transformed from being composed of purely elite members to include anyone who had a passion for cars. Emilio also invested heavily in real estate, commissioning one of the most remarkable Art Deco skyscrapers in the city: the Torre Saint. An upper-level was dedicated to rooms for the tenants’ personal drivers… easy to understand given Emilio’s love of cars!

Buenos Aires, Once, Torre Saint, Art Deco

Buenos Aires, Once, Torre Saint, Art Deco

522. flickr images

22 Jul 2016

AfterLife, Recoleta Cemetery, flickr

Remember we have created an album composed of 93 images from Recoleta Cemetery in Flickr. Visit the cemetery again & again!

521. entrance fee?

22 Nov 2015

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Marco Avellaneda

Funny how a newspaper article can draw attention to a law passed a year & a half ago. La Nación reported on 17 Nov 2015 that Recoleta Cemetery would begin to charge an admission fee soon… well, maybe.

The city legislature passed Law 4977 in May 2014, establishing a series of measures to guarantee burial rights to all residents of Buenos Aires as well as promote architectural heritage & culture to visitors. It’s about time some regulations were put into place… I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to bite my tongue because I overheard guides give false information during a tour!

Chapter 4 of Law 4977 breaks the situation down in seven sections:

  • Article 136 establishes a body for regulating tourism within all Buenos Aires cemeteries.
  • Article 137 requires that all tour guides must be registered & fulfill all city guide requirements.
  • Article 138 states that all tour guides—whether they are registered or not—must take special training to lead tours inside public cemeteries.
  • Article 139 creates a General Cemetery Tourism Fund that will receive income from tourist fees as well as the sale of books, posters, etc.
  • Article 140 exempts the collection of fees from students of all ages who visit cemeteries for educational purposes, also retirees & Argentine nationals who visit without a guide.
  • Article 141 grants control of funds to a specific body.
  • Article 142 informs that conservation, maintenance & production of materials to be sold will be paid for via the General Cemetery Tourism Fund (apparently falling out of jurisdiction of the Asociación de Amigos)

No specifics are mentioned as to the amount to be charged or a deadline to have some system in place.

For several years I have followed a blog written by the Asociación de Guías de Turismos de Buenos Aires (AGuiTBA). On November 10th—a week before the article in La Naciónthey posted that a big meeting had been held with the General Director of Cemeteries, tourism agencies & other interested parties. An agreement was reached to postpone charging any national or foreign tourists 100 pesos, previously set to take effect on November 15th. The main reason for postponement was that many operators had already been paid for tours which included a visit to the Recoleta Cemetery.

So by our understanding a fee is coming. Likely 100 pesos. But the date has yet to be set. As more information becomes available, we’ll post it here.

520. historic photo 9

31 Aug 2015

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, AGN, Archivo General de la Nación, 1890

Burial photo with a splendid funeral carriage at the main entrance gate, c. 1890. Courtesy Archivo General de la Nación.