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Category: Current events

432. iphone app for sale

Please note that as of Aug 2015, this app is no longer for sale! The PDF version is still available (see below).

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Regular readers might notice a new button in the sidebar… yet another way to experience Recoleta Cemetery is available! Our new venture, Endless Mile, is now live & we selected Recoleta Cemetery as the subject of our first travel app for the iPhone/iPod touch.

Endless Mile, logo

A significant advance in mobile device technology has allowed this particular dream to come true. The PDF guidebook, first made available in Jan 2010, has been very well received but the app version makes a visit to the cemetery much more interactive.

High quality, color photographs—a trademark of this blog—have been incorporated as well as an explanation of additional symbols & archival images. This app presents a new way to visit the cemetery & explains why it remains the number one tourist destination in Buenos Aires.

Rufina Cambacérès, Recoleta Cemetery app, screenshot

Easy-to-use & fun to navigate, the cemetery’s top 25 tombs are highlighted in the walk. Both fans of urban legends & history buffs will find something of interest, & the app wouldn’t be complete without a description of the cemetery’s most famous resident, Eva Perón. Known simply as Evita to her devotées, her bizarre post-mortem journey is described in detail.

We’re excited to launch our company with the only app dedicated to Recoleta Cemetery. It engages those who are interested in learning more about the cemetery & makes sharing a visit with friends & family easy. The best thing about this app, however, is that it’s like consulting a tour guide whenever you want.

Thanks for your support!

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431. visits for the blind

Recoleta Cemetery, guided visit, blind

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting two guides who know volumes about Recoleta Cemetery: Mario Braun & María Fernanda Gomez. As much as I research & share my discoveries in this blog, there’s always more to learn… & they shared some fascinating stories. María Fernanda authored a book about handicapped tourism (“Grupos Turísticos y Discapacidad“), so when a group of the blind toured the cemetery she was contacted to tag along & document the event… complete with two guide dogs.

Although I’ve never happened upon a group like this, I can’t help but think how wonderful it would be to guide them through the cemetery. It is a place full of sensory experiences & several statues are at ground level. Imagine reading plaques by touch & visiting the following tombs without being able to see them… fascinating!

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Comodoro Rivadavia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Marco Avellaneda, Art Nouveau

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

First photo courtesy of María Fernanda Gomez.

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421. exterior wall maintenance

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, workers restoring exterior wall

While cataloging photos from last year, I ran across an important event that went unposted. Repairs were underway to the exterior brick wall in February 2010 when heavy rainfall damaged the entrance gate. Somehow that story took precedence. But the structure of the perimeter wall had become a haven for pigeons & badly needed repair. Workers went opening by opening, cleared each of debris & nests, & covered each in cement. The very top of the wall was also cemented.

Note: Patchwork cement filling which has been drawn to mimic the original brick layout was done prior to the repairs mentioned above. In fact, since my first visit to the cemetery in 2000 the wall has looked like this… difficult to say when that work was done.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

But that’s not all they did. Instead of making nice new homes for pigeons like in the photo above, they covered each with mesh wire. Well done!

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

Finally, much of the interior portion of the wall was covered as well. The work looks professional, makes a visit to this particular section more pleasant & will hopefully protect the wall from the increasingly extreme climate of Buenos Aires. Some pigeons have returned since this work was performed… perhaps rows of spikes will have to be added at a later date to discourage nesting.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, exterior wall

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414. la noche en vela

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, La Noche en Vela, videoprojection

Typical for an election year, cultural offerings in Buenos Aires have increased over the past few weeks. Incumbent officials provide a few months of frenetic activity in an attempt to erase 3.5 years of neglect. Last night in conjunction with Earth Hour, the city sponsored “La Noche en Vela” (Candlelight Night) with different cultural activities across the city. Recoleta Cemetery participated with an announced video projection on the entrance gate beginning at 21:00. Ironically, entrance gate lights had been shut off to support Earth Hour but a multimedia show which undoubtedly used more electricity replaced them.

Although starting on time, someone had made a big PR mistake. Instead of projecting on the main gate, the show took place on a smaller service entrance. Much less engaging. In the beginning, various images of vaults displayed while an actor dressed as a caretaker paced back & forth ringing a bell. Eventually the caretaker character appeared in the video, opening the gate for spectators to look inside. More vault images raced by like a passing train while a women desperately tried to escape her inevitable death. As she laid to rest—accompanied by a cat—more still images were projected. Videos below are from various moments of the show:

 

Even though the tombs of Pedro Ferré & Luz María García Velloso were incorporated into the show, there was little attempt at historical narrative. The timing of the show seemed a bit off as well… certain parts went very fast while others seemed to last an eternity. Many of the crowd of approximately 500 people drifted in & out, commenting that they did not understand the purpose of the show. I think an effort to incorporate information about the cemetery’s history would have been more appropriate than the overly dramatic theater skit. While mildly entertaining, Candlelight Night at Recoleta Cemetery could have been much better.

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405. continuing entrance gate construction

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Following the rain damage in February 2010, access to Recoleta Cemetery through the main entrance gate was restricted. Urgent repairs were necessary, & at the closing of this blog in March some restoration had begun. Returning 3.5 months later, the city government seems to have taken advantage of events to undertake a larger project.

A few details are available on an infopanel located outside. In the space of 45 days, the city will pay Naku Construcciones about 225,000 pesos (currently U$S 57,000) for restoration under the supervision of architect Santiago Jorge Bayazbakian. Of Armenian descent, Bayazbakian has done a number of works for the city under Macri’s administration. What’s unclear is how the final project will look. Sketches show day & night representations of the cemetery, but as it appeared before the staircase destruction in May 2010… no handicapped ramp to be found:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Covering the entire gate is the following text:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Aquí se encuentra el peristilo de acceso al Cementerio de la Recoleta, obra del arquitecto Juan Buschiazzo. La construcción del peristilo le fue encomendada en 1880 por el primer Intendente de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, Torcuato de Alvear, en el marco de la remodelación integral del Cementerio. Consiste en un pórtico de entrada con doble hilera de columnas dóricas y escalones de mármol de Carrara blanco. Fue declarado Monumento Histórico Nacional por Decreto 1.289/07. La obra actual busca readecuar el acceso al peristilo del Cementerio de la Recoleta, recuperando su diseño y características al momento de ser declarado Monumento Histórico, resguardando y poniendo en valor este destacado icono del Cementerio y de la ciudad.

Here can be found the peristyle entrance of Recoleta Cemetery, the work of architect Juan Buschiazzo. The peristyle’s construction was commissioned in 1880 by the first mayor of the city of Buenos Aires, Torcuato de Alvear, as part of a remodel of the entire cemetery. It consists of an entrance gate with double rows of Doric columns & white Carrara marble staircases. It was declared a National Historic Monument by Decree 1,289/07. Current works seek to refurbish the peristyle entrance, recovering its design & characteristics at the moment it was declared a historical monument, saving & recognizing this well-known icon of the cemetery & of the city.

It is interesting how the text alludes to the staircase destruction for those in the know & how it provides a cryptic message for those who don’t. There is no mention of rain damage. If the staircase is to be replaced, where will the marble come from? Seems like such a large project would take more than 45 days.

Given current works, the main entrance has been under construction/destruction for over one year:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Until completion of the project, the only access to Recoleta Cemetery is via a service entrance to the left of the main gate:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, entrance gate

Update (07 Nov 2010): Works on the entrance gate appear to be almost complete. New bathrooms are installed, but the project has taken considerably longer than the original plan. Hopefully the main entrance will be open by the end of the year:

Main entrance gate, Recoleta Cemetery

Update (29 Nov 2010): Scaffolding has been removed, the paint has dried, office space has been added & new restrooms have been installed. But most impressive is that the marble staircase of the entrance gate has been restored. Yea! No more handicapped access ramps & the symbols above are no longer the sickeningly sweet, Sevilla-inspired ochre yellow. They now have a mottled, aged effect which looks quite nice. The gate should be open to the public soon:

Main entrance gate, Recoleta Cemetery

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