monumento histórico nacional

Established in 1940, a commission under the Secretary of Culture began to identify & catalog the nation’s heritage. Since its inception, the Comisión Nacional de Museos y Monumentos y Lugares Históricos has singled out 89 tombs of noted personalities & groups buried in Recoleta Cemetery, citing that it is:

The unavoidable duty of the Argentine people to demonstrate their gratitude to those who, for their public or private activity, made possible the current greatness of the nation… obliging the national government to watch over the maintenance & care of the sepulchers where their remains are kept.

What’s interesting is how many & when certain tombs were chosen. Below is a complete list of the commission’s selection along with the official decree #/year when each of the following tombs were chosen.

The first two under Decreto 30.837/45:

Decreto 2.236/46 added three more the following year:

Later in 1946, the largest number was added… 53 under Decreto 3.039/46:

A few more stragglers from the same year under Decreto 12.086/46:

Only one tomb was added the following year under Decreto 34.033/47:

  • Francisco Seguí

And one more in 1951 under Decreto 15.090/51:

  • Pedro Alcántara de Somellera

After the Perón years, evidently there were priorities other than national heritage. In the 1960s only eight tombs were added to the list. The first is the most surprising since Lonardi led the revolution against Perón & Lonardi’s tomb was listed only four years after his death. The minimum wait is typically 50 years to qualify for the list.

The law (not a decree in the following two cases) also states that the government will pay one million pesos for tomb upkeep. In 1960 U$S 1 = 83 pesos, so that’s over U$S 12,000… doesn’t seem like much but adjusting for inflation, that would be over U$D 80,000 today!

Ley 15.451 in 1960:

Ley 15.454 also in 1960 granted 2 million pesos for this tomb:

Decreto 1.259/62 added one more:

  • Martiniano Leguizamón

Decreto 5.407/62 paid homage to Navy personnel, adding four:

  • Erasmo Obligado
  • Alejandro Murature
  • José Murature
  • Luis Piedrabuena

Decreto 5.485/64 added one more very important person:

Ten years would pass before any further additions. Decreto 649/1974 added only:

  • Donato Álvarez

Several were added during the last military dictatorship. All additions were made individually from then to the present day. In other words, one tomb per decree. Of note is the addition on 26 July 1983 of the tomb of Luis Vernet, first governor of the Falkland Islands… a little over one year after Argentina lost the war.

Of notable absence is a lack of activity after democracy was restored in December 1983. No tombs in Recoleta Cemetery were added to the list during the governments of Alfonsín or Menem, nor following the economic crisis of 2001. Only during the last year of Néstor Kirchner’s term were two tombs added:

  • Benjamín Paz, Decreto 124/2007
  • Marcos Paz, Decreto 125/2007

The very last decree concerning the cemetery was in October 2007 & listed the entrance gate as part of national heritage (Decreto 1289/2007). Although this is an extensive list, there are still many other vaults which should be added either based on historical or architectural value. Regardless of political differences, Eva Perón should definitely be on the list. New additions will continue to be posted here.

Update (30 Dec 2011): The crypt of President Roque Sáenz Peña was declared a national historic monument in November 2011 (Decreto PEN Nº 1425/11).

10 responses

  1. Amy comments:

    My lonely planet Buenos Aires guide said that I could find a great walking tour map of the cemetery on this site. I cannot find it. Can someone help me?

  2. Robert comments:

    Hi Amy – Unfortunately the map is no longer for sale because I am currently working on a new version. It will likely be finished in a few months.

  3. Richard comments:

    Has the new map been finished yet?

  4. Robert comments:

    Hi Richard – I’ve been out of the country for most of the year & my mom recently passed away, so finishing the map hasn’t been a priority. Hopefully it will be done by December. Are you planning a trip sooner?

  5. CSC comments:

    My people are not famous, but I think some of them are in the cemetery. Is there a complete list online I could look up?

    C

  6. Robert comments:

    CSC – Unfortunately not. There have been over 350,000 burials since the cemetery opened in 1822 & putting that kind of info online is beyond the capacity of the admin staff. It would be great to have a complete list online though.

  7. parischris comments:

    Hi Robert,

    Just wanted to say what a great resource your blog and research about Recoleta Cemetery is. I stumbled across it searching for information about some of the tombs and sculptures I had photographed on a 3 day laneway by laneway visit to the cemetery. Another candidate for your sports category would be the various tombs I saw dedicated to the presidents of the jockey club!

  8. Robert comments:

    Hi parischris – Thanks very much for the comment. It sounds like you had a great time in the cemetery. Jockey Club entries would be good for sports although I’d have to add it to the Politics category too… most of the Presidents of Argentina during the mid- to late- 1800s were members. It was a place where members decided who the next Pres would be :) Saludos!

  9. susanat,.giannoni defferrari comments:

    I am looking for my family name ,there are any giannoni’s,and defferraris?on your list?

  10. Robert comments:

    Susana – There is a search box in the left column. I know of one Defferrari in the cemetery with a fantastic mausoleum.

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