About Cementerio General de Santiago
Cementerio General de Santiago is a vast cemetery in Chile’s capital which is the final resting place of many of the country’s leading political and social figures.
History of Cementerio General de Santiago
Founded in 1821, following Chilean Independence, Cementerio General de Santiago is almost a city within a city, a labyrinth of elaborate tombs and avenues. It spans over 85 hectares, and was designed to be a beautiful space as much as a practical site. It houses 172 of Chile’s most famous and important figures, including all but 2 of its presidents, and now has over 2 million graves located there.
Note the larger elaborate mausoleums for the city’s richest residents are confined to the southern end of the cemetery, whereas the urns and simple graves of Santiago’s ordinary residents are found in the northern reaches of the plot.
There’s a memorial to the victims of the 1863 Church of the Company Fire, which is still believed to be the most fatal accidental fire ever recorded.
In 1994, a memorial was constructed in remembrance of the victims of the Pinochet dictatorship: it bears the names of over 1.000 ‘disappeared’, and 3,000 more who were known to have been murdered by the regime.
Cementerio General de Santiago today
The cemetery is free to visit, and open daily – remember families still come here to mourn their lost ones, and it’s a place which deserves respect. It takes several hours to thoroughly wander round the whole site.
Look out for the quirky ‘apartment blocks’ of the dead: a way of maximising space efficiency where urns are put together in niches. Particularly famous figures buried here include Chile’s legendary president Salvador Allende, Victor Jara (an activist and singer-songwriter murdered by the Pinochet regime) and the Socialist Orlando Letelier.
Getting to Cementerio General de Santiago
The cemetery is in the Recoleta district, and is most easily accessed via metro – the nearest stations are Cementerios or Cerro Blanco, on Linea 2 (Yellow Line). If you don’t fancy navigating public transport, it’s about a 30 minute walk north of the Plaza de Armas, or a short taxi ride away.
The main entrance is on the south side of the cemetery, where Av. La Paz meets Prof. Zañartu