Buenos Aires: Cementerio de la Recoleta
On a gray day in Buenos Aires, we find ourselves exploring an elaborate stone city in search of a crypt – that of la familia Duarte. Why, you ask? Duarte was the family name of one Eva Perón…yes, that Eva Perón…former Argentine First Lady with a lasting influence on la Casa Rosada.
Toward a quiet alley in the rear of the cemetery, we find a narrow door adorned with flowers. Despite being one of the cemetery’s most popular landmarks (arguably the most popular, since many people consider it a requisite stop in this city of graves), Evita’s resting place is humble in comparison to many of the chapels, temples, and statues that surround it.
As a National Historical Monument, El Cementerio de la Recoleta, or Recoleta Cemetery, allows public access to the graves of Argentina’s former presidents and its beloved Evita. It has been named by both CNN and the BBC as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries; walking around, it’s easy to see why.
An overcast sky lends to the somber drama of the cementerio skyline.
Mausoleum or museum? Perhaps both. Sometimes, you stumble on a tomb that asks you linger a while and study its unusual design or its carefully sculpted lines.
The Recoleta neighborhood of BsAs is an affluent one, and its cemetery is no exception. Some of the capital’s most prestigious schools are situated in this part of the city, as are shops of prominent French and Italian couturiers. No wonder the tombs are also ornately fashioned.
Just beyond the walls of the cemetery, a patch of green transports you back into the neighborhood of contemporary shopping set in European architecture from the 1800s. Straddling the greenery and a street leading to a rather posh avenue, we can’t ignore the Cafe Historico La Biela, or simply, La Biela. A historic and traditional BsAs cafe (with delicious crepes), La Biela is a see-and-be-seen locale where you might spot celebrities or politicians, or even writers, like the permanent fixtures of Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares.
May you find beauty everywhere, even under gray skies.