To say the 14 acre La Recoleta Cemetery is a must see in Buenos Aires would be an understatement. It is one of the most impressive places I have seen in my travels. Founded in 1822, the cemetery is located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires and contains 4691 above ground vaults organized into a virtual city of the dead with sections separated like city blocks and pathways as roads. The vaults and sculptures have been elaborately built by artists, stone masons and architects and are mostly made of marble and stone imported from Paris and Milan between 1880 and 1930. The sheer scale of the cemetery is what is so awe inspiring. These aren’t tombstones but instead elaborate homes for the deceased each built and weathered by nature and time in their own unique way.
Walking through the vaults for me was such an experience as each oozed with history, elegance, mystery and a million questions. I wanted to know who was there, how deep the vault went, how many other people were buried, when the last time someone went inside, etc, etc, etc. Almost all had windows or gates you could look through so you could see inside to the caskets and sometimes down deep dark stairwells leading to dozens of more deceased family members of the original vault owner.
If you ever make it to Buenos Aires this is a must see. We spent a few hours in here and could easy spend more. Below are a handful of pictures to try and give you sense for what it was like: