January 28, 2008 5:20 AM   Subscribe

The biggest tourist attraction in Buenos Aires is a cemetery. El Cementerio de la Recoleta is the final resting place for some of Argentina's most illustrious and wealthy residents. (Yes, Evita is among them.) AfterLife explores the architecture, motifs, and history of this cemetery, as well as the stories of its residents.

(As this Time magazine article from 1971 shows, Evita took a trip around the world before she came to rest in the cemetery. The magazine piece ends by speculating that Juan Perón would not return to Argentina, but of course he did. And so did Evita.) But Evita's story is far from the only interesting one, and her family's tomb is nothing compared to some.
posted by veggieboy (16 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I so want to go to Buenos Aires.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:53 AM on January 28, 2008

Ever since I read Modern Mummies and parts of Saint Evita a couple of months back, I've been creeped the hell out. Like, a daily reaching for the xanax level of heebie jeebieness. Every chapter of her postmortem story is varying degrees of morbidly wrong.

That said, that the similarly preserved Mao is shrinking an inch a year just makes me laugh.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:57 AM on January 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm currently planning a trip to Buenos Aires this March, and I've found this guy's other blog to be invaluable in both learning about the city and motivating myself to go. He's a really good photographer and really passionate about architecture, which is a good match because by his photos Buenos Aires seems to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, especially if you like Art Deco.
posted by monocyte at 6:01 AM on January 28, 2008

And the state of decay of some of the graves makes for unexpected sights, such as: "The Defeated Christ of Recoleta"
posted by micayetoca at 6:05 AM on January 28, 2008

It truly is an amazing place, one of my favourite sights was the Pirate Window
posted by jontyjago at 6:16 AM on January 28, 2008

Having just visited Buenos Aires (and Recoleta) for the first time a few months ago, one of the things that still stands out in my memory is how many exclamation points there were on the plaques adorning Evita's (Duarte family) mausoleum.

posted by kittyprecious at 7:49 AM on January 28, 2008

I well remember Recoleta from my years in Buenos Aires. Thanks for the blast from the past!

(To those of you planning a visit to BA: eat the beef, of course, but also the pizza, which may well be the best in the world. Something like a third of the population is of Italian descent.)
posted by languagehat at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2008

languagehat: any particular pizza recommendations? I came away with a very poor impression of the pizza in Buenos Aires by virtue of the fact that every pizza I got there consisted of a minimum of sauce sandwiched between the crust and a too-thick slab of melted cheese on top. I never did go to a place that claimed its speciality was pizza, though.
posted by invitapriore at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2008

Pizza recommendation: Los inmortales. And try the chocolate ice cream there, it's my favorite in Bayres.
posted by micayetoca at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2008

It's been way too long for me to have any specific recommendations, but sheesh, if you want pizza go to a pizza place! And as I recall the good ones were in La Boca (BA's Little Italy). Just found this post, which may be helpful.
posted by languagehat at 8:33 AM on January 28, 2008

monocyte: You're right. Robert's other blog is great, too.

invitapriore: I can help a bit with the pizza question; I'm working on an article about it. The city just put out a book naming 39 pizzerias as part of the city's heritage. There used to be a web site to refer to, but I'm having a hell of a time finding it now. (I suspect it may have been taken down when the new mayor took office.) In any case, these 39 places don't all make mind-blowing pizza, but it's a great starting point to exploring the city while you ingest some atmosphere and pizza. You're welcome to borrow the book if you're in the neighborhood ;-) I'll keep looking for a link.

In any case, for grilled pizza (pizza a la parrilla) I recommend: 1893 at Scalabrini Ortiz 701. For pizza al molde (close to deep-dish style) or a la piedra (thin crust), La Americana at Callao 83. There is a lot of crummy pizza here, but there's a lot of great pizza, too.
posted by veggieboy at 8:36 AM on January 28, 2008

languagehat, I've never heard of La Boca as Baires' "Little Italy." It's an interesting area but it's not any more "Italian" than any other part of the city.

The best pizza I had in Baires was at Romario.

Gelato in Baires is spectacular. The food is bland and very repetitive though, with every resto serving some combo of pizza, pasta, and empanadas, and they despise any spiciness. We got something akin to Italian salad dressing when we asked for "pepper sauce" at a chinese place and we got what could only be described as plain canned tomato sauce when we asked for "hot" salsa at a Mexican place, which was what all the Portenos told us to visit if we wanted "hot." It became a joke: How bland could food be? That said, we found some gems, like the just mentioned Romario (get the pie with fresh arugula, just delicious) and a place in Recoleta called Scetta that may or may not still exist, but MAN what a gourmet meal there.

We were there in March 2004 and one happy recent (2006?) change in the city is that it's 100% smoke free now, or so I've read. This is miraculous if true.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:53 AM on January 28, 2008

I fucking love Argentina and everything to do with it (especially the meat) including this incredible necropolis. I hope to spend a year on the Pampas in 2010. We'll see.
posted by Rumple at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2008

I've never heard of La Boca as Baires' "Little Italy." It's an interesting area but it's not any more "Italian" than any other part of the city.

Well, then BA has changed in the last forty years, which is not surprising. But it was certainly historically the Little Italy; cf. the descriptions here ("El Caminito in La Boca (an Italian enclave in Buenos Aires)") and here ("La Boca, the Italian community of Buenos Aires").
posted by languagehat at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2008

I shot this cover image from inside the cemetery. It's a trip to stand in the cemetery and look up at all of the apartments surrounding it.

As far as eating. We had a wonderful little romantic dinner at Social Paraiso. And Olsen brunch is fun--make a reservation.
posted by dontoine at 12:23 PM on January 28, 2008

A cousin of mine highly recommended Social Paraiso. I went there with my girlfriend and some friends and no one was particularly impressed. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't mindblowing.

But in Buenos Aires is easier to find great places than bad ones. Picking randomly isn't so risky, and one can walk all day and just go eat anywhere when you are hungry, and chances are you'll be nicely surprised.
posted by micayetoca at 12:41 PM on January 28, 2008

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