Punta Arenas Cemetery
Punta Arenas - Chile
The Punta Arenas cemetery, inaugurated 9th of April 1894, is one of the main attractions of the city. It is a fascinating place to stroll around due to its immaculately trimmed cypress trees that look like giant chubby fingers protruding from the ground (of course they look like many other things which I won't go into detail about since they may be children reading). The tree-laced pathways of the cemetery are home to the last resting places of pioneers, immigrants and families of diverse nationalities that left their mark in the colonization and development of this isolated part of the world.
Sara Braun and Urban Legends
The Punta Arenas cemetery is officially called the Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun (fact not myth). The huge stone gateway was donated in 1919 by Sara Braun, the richest and most influential woman in Patagonia at the time. Urban legend has it that she asked to be only person to go through the gate when she died. This seems to be true since the main entrance has been sealed off/closed (unused rusted parts not helping), and you have to enter the cemetery through a side entrance.
This large donation may also be a reason for her having her own walled off patch of turf inside the cemetery with her elegant mausoleum and garden and trees included.
On a curious note there is another myth about Sara Braun in that she was embalmed at death and every 1st of November she is taken out of her tomb to have new make up put on and to be combed. The funny part is that many people go along to her tomb on that date to see if it is true. Below is her Mausoleum.
The most ostentatious mausoleums / chapels that are closer to the front entrance were built in the first three decades of last century and belong to the wealthiest families of the time such as the Menéndez, Braun, Kusanovic, Blanchard etc. You will also notice a large number of Croatian families tombs, especially only the walls.
The Unknown Indian
One of the attractions of the cemetery is the tomb of the Indio Desconocido or unknown Indian. This indigenous Indian was found dead on an island next to another Chilean in 1929. He was brought to rest in the Punta Arenas cemetery and by the second half of the century rumours abounded about his miraculous powers. By 1969 with the money left to the Indian in offering, a bronze statue was erected along with three walls surrounding the tomb. These walls are now entirely covered in plaques for 'favours granted'. See the photo at the bottom.
How to get there?
The cemetery isn't far from the city center. In fact, it is only a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). Just follow Bories (street) which becomes Avda. Manuel Bulnes. That's the main avenue as you come from the airport.
There are also numerous Colectivos (shared taxis) that go by here.
Address: Avda Bulnes 029
(No Phone Number)
See what else you can do in Punta Arenas.
More photos of the cemetery
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