My parents are in town at the moment and we have been exploring the city and visiting all of the usual tourist destinations. Surprisingly enough one of the most popular must see attractions here is a cemetery.
It is not just any cemetery though, Recoleta Cemetery is like a small town with rows and rows of mausoleums- there are even some street signs. There are very elaborate tombs with marble and imposing statues and crosses and there are more modest tombs. Also a number of stray cats live there and there are said to be a couple of ghosts too. It is an interesting experience to say the least.
There are some very famous Argentine figures laid to rest in Recoleta Cemetery, including Eva Peron or Evita as she is more commonly known.
The story of how Evita was eventually laid to rest in Recoleta is an interesting one. She died young of cancer in 1952 and the plan was that they would embalm her and lay her to rest beneath an elaborate monument. However three years after her death her husband Juan Peron was overthrown as President and the country was taken over by military rule.
Juan Peron was exiled to Spain and the corpse of Evita was stolen by military officers in Argentina. Evita was seen as powerful and popular symbol of Peronism and the military authorities wanted all traces of her removed from the country.
It is thought that the corpse was held in Buenos Aires for a few years before being transported to Italy (with covert help from the Vatican) in 1957. The corpse was buried in Milan under a false name where it remained during many years of military rule.
In 1971 the corpse was then sent from Milan to Madrid to where Juan Peron was living with his third wife Isabel. In 1973 Peron died and Isabel had Evita’s corpse sent from Madrid back to Buenos Aires where it was restored.
Once restored her remains were briefly displayed to the public before finally being laid to rest in the family tomb in Recoleta Cemetery in 1976, over 20 years after her death.
She has remained there ever since, 5 metres underground in a secure vault where she cannot be moved again.
There are a lot more stories of famous Argentines laid to rest in Recoleta but Evita’s plot is one of the most famous.
To make the most out of the cemetery there are many tours you can take to learn more about the history of the cemetery and the people buried there. The cemetery is free to enter and is open from 8am- 5.30pm daily.