The entrance of the Cementerio General de Santiago
|Established||9 December 1821|
Commune of Recoleta, Santiago
|Size||85 hectares (210 acres)|
|No. of interments||nearly 2 million|
The Cementerio General de Santiago, Chile is one of the largest cemeteries in Latin America with an estimated 2 million burials. The cemetery was established in 1821 after Chile's independence when Bernardo O'Higgins inaugurated the Alameda de las Delicias along the old course of the Mapocho River. O'Higgins set aside more than 85 hectares of land for the foundation of what became a magnificent grounds filled with ornate mausoleums surrounded by palm and leaf trees set amidst lush gardens and numerous sculptures, which have been estimated be 237. The cemetery, which is located northwest of Cerro Blanco, serves as a true urban park for Santiago.
This cemetery is the final resting place for at least 172 of the most influential people in Chile, including all but two of the deceased Presidents of Chile, the exceptions being Gabriel González Videla and Augusto Pinochet. One of the most visited memorials is that of former President Salvador Allende who had been buried in the Santa Ines cemetery at Viña del Mar following his suicide in the 1973 coup d'état. With the democratic changes that began in the 1990s, Allende was exhumed and his remains were transported in a solemn procession through the streets of Santiago to a place of honor in the Cementerio General de Santiago. The cemetery also has a memorial to the people that were 'disappeared' during the regime of Augusto Pinochet that ousted President Allende.
The gatehouse that serves as the main entrance to the cemetery is crowned by a dome, which acts as a terminating vista for La Paz Avenue. This entrance is preceded by the Plaza La Paz, a semicircular plaza whose curved portion is framed by two exposed brick arcades. At the center of the square stands a monument dedicated to the people who died in the Church of the Company Fire. The cemetery can be accessed via Cementerios metro station.