In spite of being on a major walkway, this discrete, Neo-Byzantine mausoleum is easy to dismiss… perhaps because there is no way to peer inside. The surrounding tombs capture our attention quicker. Most people move on, unaware of the beauty inside.
Mauro Herlitzka was one of many Italian professionals who made the move to Argentina at the end of the 19th century. Born in Trieste in 1871, he graduated from the University of Turin with a specialty in industrial/electrical engineering—a new & promising field at the time. Herlitzka then moved to Germany to work for Siemens & AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft), constructing a number of large electrical plants in Europe.
Arriving in Buenos Aires in 1897 as a rep for AEG, Herlitzka saw that the time was right to electrify Argentina. Although not the first electric company in the city, the CATE (Compañía Alemana Transatlántica de Electricidad, logo below) soon became the major provider… directed by Herlitzka. They negotiated a 50-year contract with the Buenos Aires city government & built an enormous complex in Dock Sud to provide for increased demand.
Herlitzka remained in Argentina for the rest of his life & became one of the country’s great industrial giants. Besides electricity, he developed telephone & telegraph lines for most of Argentina. Much of Herlitzka’s infrastructure survives today even though companies & holdings have changed hands several times since then. He passed away in 1960.
Herlitzka’s wealth funded the construction of this family vault & no expense was spared… probably why it isn’t openly visible to visitors. But if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a way to get a look. Make sure no one is watching—you didn’t hear this from me—and blindly take some photographs through the hole above the door. It’s quite a reach, so don’t drop your camera inside!!! Or just look at thespectacular interior here:
The glass is supposedly from Murano & the tiles are gold leaf. No way to confirm that these days. But when the sun enters either in early morning or late afternoon, the interior is bathed in golden light. Definitely one of the most heavenly in the entire cemetery.
For more on the history of electricity in Buenos Aires from the perspective of the CATE’s largest competitor—the CIAE—I have researched & written a series of 11 posts on my other blog, Line of Sight.