Life in the cemetery

Rumor has it that Colón’s tallest and most beautiful tomb has not been seen; that Calixto de Loira, the designer of the cemetery, had placed his niche above the main entrance and underneath the sculpture of the Three Theological Graces, so that he would not be crossed, not even after his death.

But the architect began the construction of the cemetery taking the extensive Tobias Gallery as starting point, where 526 niches were located, and –a coincidence– this 32-year-old Spaniard was the first to use the Gallery. His corpse was laid on September 29, 1872 in the niche #263 and it was transferred to an ossuary of the pantheon of the College of Architects of Havana years later.

Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.
Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.

Like any funerary city, the Cristóbal Colón cemetery combines different architectonic styles within its eclecticism. Many creators such as Florencio Gelabert, Juan Jose Sicre, Rita Longa, Teodoro Ramos Blanco and Fernando Boada left their imprint on the necropoliswith the arrival of the avant-gardes to the Cuban plastic arts panorama. Around 90 prominent sculptors exhibit their works in this cemetery that gathers 10,000 impressive sculptures, making it the largest open-air art museum in the world.

Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.
Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.

Its 57 hectares make it the largest cemetery in America and the third in the world. Every sculpture reveals the beautiful stillness of the holy field, from the monument to the Cuban chess player José Raúl Capablanca, in the form of a King piece, to the tomb of Amelia Goyri, La Milagrosa.

Tomb of Luisa Martín, fan of domino, dead in 1929 after an exciting game. Photo: Luis Gabriel.
Tomb of Luisa Martín, fan of domino, dead in 1929 after an exciting game. Photo: Luis Gabriel.
La Milagrosa “The Miraculous woman” in the Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.
La Milagrosa “The Miraculous woman” in the Colón Cemetery. Photo: Luis Gabriel.

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