San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

PHOTO REPORT: Cementerio General: An open-air museum in San José

The first president of Costa Rica, some of the country’s most important artists, scientists and politicians, and even a North American in charge of finishing the construction of the Atlantic railroad all rest at Costa Rica’s biggest cemetery, the Cementerio General.

Located on San José’s southern edge on Avenida 10 between calles 22 and 24, the cemetery was built in 1845 and occupies 80,662 square meters of land.

Considered an open-air museum, it has the biggest collection of funerary art in the country including statues, tiles and stained-glass windows. Some mausoleums display a mix of neocolonial and neo-Gothic architecture.

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A lawyer, teacher and politician, Mauro Fernández is one of Costa Rica’s most important historical figures. His mausoleum has an inscription by poet Isaac Felipe Azofeifa calling Fernández the best mind of the 19th century.

Alberto Font

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Carlos Manuel Echandi Lahmann was one of Costa Rica’s most prominent 20th century surgeons.

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The Sociedad de Beneficiencia Española mausoleum is one of the biggest in the cemetery and was built for the Spanish community in Costa Rica by architect Luis Llach in 1924. It features white and gray marble and uses neoclassical architecture.

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An underground section of the cemetery offers niches for rent.

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An example of neo-Gothic architecture contrasts with the city’s modern buildings.

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Mausoleum of Costa Rica’s 16th president, Rafael Iglesias Castro (1898-1902).

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The cemetery also has sculptures.

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Created in 2001 by Costa Rican artist Mario Parra, a bust of Costa Rica’s first constitutional president, José María Castro Madriz (1848-1849).

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A North American citizen, John M. Keith, was charged with finishing Costa Rica’s Atlantic railroad. He married a Costa Rican woman and was buried at the Cementerio General.

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