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477. juan pedro garrahan

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Pedro Garrahan

Born in 1893 in Buenos Aires, Juan Pedro Garrahan was second-generation Argentine born of Irish immigrants. His grandparents were from Westmeath County & arrived long before European immigration began in earnest in the 1880s.

Juan entered the Facultad de Medicina in 1908 & graduated with honors in 1915 at the age of 22. Immediately he began working in pediatrics & formed part of the Hospital Rivadavia & Hospital de Clínicas. In 1924, he married María Rosa Prando which explains his placement in their family tomb in Recoleta Cemetery.

One website notes that Garrahan strived to improve diagnostic procedures in order to minimize intrusion. As Chair of Pediatrics in 1945, he resigned from the post during the Perón era. Garrahan resumed the post after the 1955 Revolución Libertadora. After numerous publications & forming part of pediatric societies in Brazil, Spain, France & Chile, Garrahan passed away in April 1965. In 1979, the national pediatrics hospital located in Parque Patricios was named after him:

Buenos Aires, Parque Patricios, Hospital Garrahan

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476. virgilio m. tedín

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Virgilio Tedín

Born in Salta in 1850, Virgilio Mariano Tedín Tejada joined the local elite by marrying Flor de María Uriburu Arenales—sister of future President José Evaristo de Uriburu… who in turn was uncle to Argentina’s first military dictator, José Félix Uriburu. It’s all in the family.

Seemingly at odds with future cousins, Tedín earned respect as a fair national judge during the complicated 1890’s. After the failed revolution, he did his best to ensure fair treatment of Leandro N. Alem & other activists. Tedín died at the age of 42, & this tomb was paid for by public donations… remarkable for a federal judge:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Virgilio Tedín

Sculpted in 1899 by Miguel Sansebastiano—also the author of Toribio de Ayerza‘s tomb—a seated female figure representing Justice (find the fallen scales) crowns an angel. Today, the wrought-iron crown (perhaps of laurel?) is missing along with her thumb, but a fuzzy version can be seen in the 1900 photo by Harry Grant Olds. The angel’s book contains three unreadable words, worn over time… looks like “??? y senteacea” but that’s merely a guess. Left & right inscriptions read respectively:

Mantuvo incólume la potestad de la ley en que reposa el verdadero bienestar de la patria / Dio a cada uno lo suyo, vivió honestamente y a nadie dañó.

He upheld authority of the law in which lies the true wellbeing of the nation / He gave himself to each individual, lived honestly & harmed no one.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Virgilio Tedín

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475. “destinos” television series

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Destinos series

Who else learned Spanish by watching the tv series “Destinos” besides me? There must be a few people who remember the scene filmed inside Recoleta Cemetery.

Produced in 1992, 52 30-minute episodes of “Destinos” taught viewers Spanish grammar & conversation in the format of a telenovela/soap opera. Lawyer Raquel Rodríguez is hired by Don Fernando to uncover a family mystery. As Raquel seeks clues in Spain, Argentina, Puerto Rico & México, the series does a good job of exposing learners not only to fantastic scenery but also region-specific variants of the language.

In Episode 12, Raquel travels to Buenos Aires to meet with Arturo. At 16:50, he takes Raquel to Recoleta Cemetery & reveals more about his family’s past. Dedication plaques shown in the episode are only props,& the exact location of filming was easy to find since there are only four diagonal walkways in the cemetery… looks pretty much the same today, except for the new sidewalk tiles placed in 2003:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Destinos series

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

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474. touchscreen map

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Recoleta Cemetery can now boast some of the latest technology: a touchscreen monitor with an electronic map & information about more than 200 of its most important residents. Listings are categorized mainly by occupation: President, lawyer, engineer/architect, politician, military, etc. A search function also allows users to find tombs by typing a family name. Once an entry is selected, a photo gallery & biography are displayed. Cool.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Tapping the button ¿Cómo llegar? displays a pop-up window containing a complete map of the cemetery. As if that wasn’t snazzy enough, a green arrow flashes to show the tomb location. Colored sections on the map correspond to official divisions, & all red numbers have information available… no wonder this took a year to put together!

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

A general information section has details about guided visits plus other services, a historic background & even a bibliography. All text is available in both English & Spanish… definitely a plus for visitors. Translations could be better but all things considered, this is a great improvement over the previous lack of information in English. As an example, take a moment to read the text for the Herlitzka family vault:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, touch screen

Unless already familiar with the cemetery—very unlikely for the majority of people who visit—the touchscreen is more useful on the way out rather than when first entering. No print copy is provided from the search, so first-time visitors would have trouble remembering the location of any tomb not on a main walkway. Of course, they could purchase a map then spend some time marking tombs of interest. But a better way to take advantage of this resource would be to search for tombs you’ve already seen. Scroll through your digital photos, then search for info.

I know from experience how difficult it is to put together a useful guide to Recoleta Cemetery. It’s so dense with tons of history & art packed inside… any attempt at organization is overwhelming. But this is a good complement to the most visited attraction in Buenos Aires.

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