Colon Cemetery – Havana’s city of the dead

Who wants to see a bunch of grave stones while enjoying a happy vacation in Cuba? It might sound like an odd idea. However, Colon Cemetery is quite a beautiful place loaded with gorgeous architecture, art, and history that worths a visit.

Founded in 1876 in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, the necropolis is one of the great historical cemeteries of the world and is generally held to be the most important in Latin America. It’s estimated that today Colon Cemetery has more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels, vaults, tombs, and galleries.

Colon Cemetery, Havana

Colon Cemetery, Havana

Built on a project by Spanish architect Calixto Arellano de Loira y Cardoso, the 57 ha city of the death is noted for its many sophisticated memorials. The ocher-colored, octagonal neo-Byzantine Chapel on the main avenue, was raised in order to host Christopher Columbus‘s ashes that never arrived.

Some of the sculptures on the tombs are rather impressive. One example is the replication of The Pietà created by Cuban artist Rita Longa. I can only imagine how much time it must have taken to do all this delicate and intricate work.

Pietá by Rita Longa, Colon Cemetery

Pietá by Rita Longa, Colon Cemetery

Not far away, one can easily reach the curious grave of Juana Martín de Martín. She was devoted domino player, who died of heart attack when she misplayed a double-three domino and lost a major game. Today, there’s a marble double-three domino marking her tomb.

A much-frequented spot is the burial place of Amelia Goyri de Adot, who died in childbirth in 1901. The baby, who also died, was buried at his mother’s feet. According to legend, when the bodies were disinterred to make room for new corpses, the baby had allegedly moved from her feet to her chest. Locals now come and offer their prayers for safe pregnancies and return with flowers and prayers to thank her for a safe birth.

Amelia Goyri de Adot tomb, Colon Cemetery

Amelia Goyri de Adot tomb, Colon Cemetery

It’s also worth admiring the impressive 75-foot monument dedicated to the 18 firefighters who lost their lives in a warehouse fire on May 17, 1890. Winged hourglasses, branches of laurel and inverted torches reflect the irreversible nature of earthly life.

I found Colon Cemetery a tranquil place of special significance, both emotionally and artistically. If you are willing to visit the site it’s highly recommended to book a tour guide.

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