Argentina is known for its beautiful landscapes, hot weather, tango, and more. In Buenos Aires, specifically, many people are drawn as to what it offers for the thrill seekers.
Buenos Aires is the home of the eerily beautiful La Recoleta Cemetery, which has thousands of fairytale grottoes, mausoleums, statues, tombstones, and the remains of Eva Peron, one of the most iconic female figures of Argentina.
The History Of La Recoleta Cemetery
The La Recoleta Cemetery or Cementerio de la Recoleta in Spanish is a very prominent cemetery. Aside from Peron, the cemetery is also where former presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, and other notable persons are buried there. Although it has been hailed by BBC as one of the world’s best cemeteries back in 2011 and by CNN as part of the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world, its ghost stories make it even more famous.
An aerial shot of the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://richedwardsimagery.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/la-recoleta-cemetery-buenos-aires-argentina/)
The monks of the Order of the Recoletos arrived in the area around 1732 and built a church called Our Lady of Pilar or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. By 1822, the order disbanded and the garden of the church was converted into the first ever public cemetery in Buenos Aires. The cemetery was remodeled a number of times over the years until it became what it is now.
The La Recoleta Cemetery is 5.5 hectares wide and contains more than 6, 400 graves. The entrance of the cemetery is through neo-classical gates and most of the materials that were used to construct the tombs, mausoleums, statues, and fairytale grottoes came from Paris and Milan. A lot of the mausoleums are still well-maintained while others have been trashed. The mausoleums are usually used by rich families who have their own vaults where they place their deceased loved ones.
Some tombs and mausoleums at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://landingpadba.com/recoleta-neighborhood-guide/)
Some of the vaults at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vaults,_La_Recoleta_Cemetery_(29765712404).jpg)
The Most Notable Persons Buried At The La Recoleta Cemetery
Argentina’s most iconic first lady, Eva “Evita” Peron, was buried at the La Recoleta Cemetery. She died in 1952 at 33 years old. She died from cancer and the military government decided to bury Peron at the La Recoleta Cemetery only after 20 years from her death. She was loved by many because she used her position as the first lady to right for women’s rights and improving the lives of the poor. If you visit La Recoleta Cemetery today, you might chance upon people who still pay their respects to Peron’s grave.
Tourists outside the mausoleum of Eva Peron’s family at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://www.viajesalpasado.com/en/la-recoleta-el-secuestro-de-los-cadaveres-de-evita-y-aramburu/)
The remains of Peron lie five meters underground. Accordingly, the tomb is designed like a nuclear bunker “so that no one should ever again be able to disturb the remains of Argentina’s most controversial First Lady.”
The name of Eva Peron at her family’s mausoleum at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/one-of-many-plaques-honoring-eva-peron-in-le-recoleta-cemetery-in-buenos-aires-argentina-ruth-hager.html)
Another notable person buried at the La Recoleta Cemetery is Liliana Crociati de Szaszak. She died while honeymooning with her husband in the Alps. The two were newly married and an avalanche killed them both. The parents of the woman modeled their daughter’s resting place like her childhood room.
The statue of Liliana Crociati de Szaszak with her dog at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_Liliana_Crociati_de_Szaszak)
Outside her tomb, a statue of her with her doggo, Sabu, can be seen. Allegedly, the dog died the same moment his human died although they were continents apart.
The seventh president of Argentina, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, is also buried at the La Recoleta Cemetery. This leader was credited for being able to organize Argentina’s educational system but was also criticized for his policies. He died at the age of 77 and before he died, he already envisioned how his grave would look like.
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento in an undated photo. (Link: https://tn.com.ar/sociedad/enfermedades-y-muerte-del-loco-sarmiento_896283)
The resting place of Domingo Faustino Sarmiento at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/14563177[email protected]/2344685079)
The Most Famous Ghost Stories At The La Recoleta Cemetery
Now we talk about the most famous ghost stories that makes people want to visit the La Recoleta Cemetery.
First up is the young woman who was mistaken to be dead and actually died from a heart attack after she panicked when she found herself inside a coffin. According to the stories, the woman named Rufine Cambaceres, came from a wealthy family. She was buried in 1910 at only 19 years old.
Rufina Cambaceres in an undated photo. (Link: https://www.geni.com/people/Eugenia-Cambac%C3%A9r%C3%A8s-Baccichi/6000000018234626195)
As the story goes, she was preparing to see a show at the Colon Theater when she suddenly “died.” Unknown to her parents and to the doctors, she suffered from cataplexy, which causes a comatose-like state and which led the doctors to declare she was already dead. Some say that the cataplexy was a result of her mother giving her a double dose of tranquilizer. The mother reportedly gives her such in order for Cambaceres to sleep well while the mother had sexual intercourse with Cambaceres’ boyfriend.
She was taken to the La Recoleta Cemetery by a horse-drawn carriage on a rainy day. Because of the weather, they had to wait until the morning to bury her. The workers at the cemetery then left her casket in the chapel. In the morning, a worker discovered that the casket was moved and the lid was ajar.
The parents of Cambaceres were distraught because they feared that there might have been a robbery since they placed the young woman’s jewelries inside her casket with her. When they opened it, the jewelries were still there but they were surprised with what they actually saw – the casket was scratched and Cambaceres was bloodied and bruised. It turns out that when she woke up from the coma, she panicked and she tried to get out of the casket. She eventually died due to lack of air and heart attack.
Her tomb is one of the most visited because there is a life-size Art Nouveau statue of Cambaceres. Her hand is on the door of her own mausoleum. People know her as “the girl who died twice.”
The mausoleum of Rufine Cambaceres at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Recoleta_Cemetery_-_Mausoleum_(Rufina_Cambac%C3%A9r%C3%A8s)_52.jpg)
Cambaceres is said to be seen walking around the cemetery at night.
Another famous ghost that haunts the cemetery is David Alleno. He was a former grave worker and worked there for 30 years. He really wanted to be buried at the La Recoleta Cemetery that he saved up to buy a fancy grave. There’s even a statue of himself on top of his grave. In 1960, Alleno committed suicide.
The tomb of David Alleno at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: https://www.reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool/comments/4wi12n/the_gravestone_and_tomb_of_david_alleno_alleno/)
Alleno was never seen by anyone but the sound of his keys jangling when he used to check the graves is a sign that he is still wandering the area. Night workers attested to such paranormal activity.
The last ghost that is usually seen at the La Recoleta Cemetery is said to belong to a 15-year-old teen named Luz Maria Garcia Velloso. She is referred to as the Lady in White and died because of leukemia. Her tomb is decorated with a statue of a young girl dead on her bed. Her mother was so grief-stricken over the death of her daughter that she slept for months at the feet of the statue of her daughter.
A photo of the resting place of Luz Maria Garcia Velloso at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: http://miargentinablogspotcom.blogspot.com/2013/07/rufina-cambaceres-una-de-las-tantas.html)
One of the most famous urban legends surrounding Velloso goes like this: A man met a beautiful girl and decided to take her out. They then go for some coffee and the woman suddenly felt cold. The man then lent her his coat. The woman spills some coffee on the coat and she took it home to clean it. The next day, the man went to get his coat back but the mother told him her daughter is already dead. She told the man that her daughter is buried at the La Recoleta Cemetery and when the man got to her grave, he saw his coat. Some said he went insane while others claimed he killed himself.
The statue of Luz Maria Garcia Velloso at the La Recoleta Cemetery. (Link: http://www.recoletacemetery.com/?p=1426)