The mortal remains of the “king” of soccer Pelé will rest from Tuesday in a peculiar place: the Memorial Necrópole Ecumenica in the Brazilian city of Santos, the highest vertical cemetery in the world, according to the Guinness World Record.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé, who died on December 29 at the age of 82, bought a bed 19 years ago in the cemetery of this port city in southeastern Brazil, where he played for most of his club career.
The three-time world champion with the Brazilian national team said in 2003 that he wanted to rest eternally there, as the place “did not look like a cemetery” and gave him “spiritual peace and tranquility”, the Brazilian press recalled in recent days.
The Necrópole Memorial, a huge white structure surrounded by vegetation, entered the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest cemetery on the planet thanks to its 14 floors.
Designed by the late Argentine businessman José Salomon Altstut, the luxurious cemetery began construction in 1983 and was inaugurated in 1991, becoming the first vertical cemetery in the world to house mausoleums.
The building has a total area of 40,000 square meters, 18,000 niches, wake rooms with rest suites, a 24-hour restaurant, a chapel and a vehicle museum. There is also an aviary and a small fish pond.
Pelé’s body will remain on the second floor in a 200 m2 mausoleum reminiscent of a soccer stadium, including synthetic grass on the floor, and images of the “King” around the coffin.
According to the site’s website, the mausoleums allow the “creation of a decorated space” by customers who “personify” the “memory of the family”.
Also buried in the cemetery are his father “Dondinho”, his aunt, his brother Jair Arantes, “Zoca”; his daughter, Sandra Arantes, who died in 2006; and Antonio Wilson Honório, “Coutinho”, Santos’ strike partner between 1962 and 1963.
From there, visitors can see, less than a kilometer away, Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium: the temple where he will always be present.