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article imagePhoto Essay: The Municipal Cemetery of Punta Arenas Special

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 5, 2011 in Travel
Punta Arenas - The Municipal Cemetery of Punta Arenas is among the city’s most important attractions; very few visitors leave the city in the Chilean Patagonia without spending a few hours in this fascinating place.
The memorial park, also known as Sara Braun’s Cemetery occupies four hectares and, when it opened in April 1894, its location was on the outskirts of town. With the development of the city is now virtually in the central area and easily accessible to visitors.
The family names shown on the tombstones give an idea about the cosmopolitan nature of the beginnings of this city, while the splendour of the mausoleums tell about the wealth of the pioneer families who made great fortunes during the boom times of sheep raising and the wool export trade. The atmosphere is magnificent and highly impressive. Numerous writers and artists have created works with the cemetery as an inspiration.
Main Cross  sorrounded by sculpted European cypresses at the Central Plaza of the cemetery.
Main Cross, sorrounded by sculpted European cypresses at the Central Plaza of the cemetery.
P. Arenas cemetery. Tomb of the Kusanovic family.
P. Arenas cemetery. Tomb of the Kusanovic family.
Its layout is very formal. It resembles an English park with avenues lined by carefully trimmed European cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens). The silence and solemnity of the place conveys peace and serenity to the visitors. The chapel and the mausoleums, which are neatly arranged, have a great wealth of shapes and styles with marble walls, stained glass windows, rich ornamentation, bronze sculptures, wrought iron railings, copper tops, etc.
Tomb of family Menendez-Behety. The building is richly decorated with bronze sculptures.
Tomb of family Menendez-Behety. The building is richly decorated with bronze sculptures.
Neatly sheared European cypresses line the avenues of the Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery of Punta Are...
Neatly sheared European cypresses line the avenues of the Sara Braun Municipal Cemetery of Punta Arenas.
Particularly attractive for their design and construction details are the magnificent tombs of some of the renowned families such as Menendez-Behety, Braun-Hamburger, Bitsch-Sauders, José Nogueira and Sara Braun, Kusanovic, Menendez-Montes, and so on. Several of the most luxurious buildings were constructed in the first three decades of the twentieth century.
Mausoleum of the Croatian Mutual Aid Society.
Mausoleum of the Croatian Mutual Aid Society.
Monolith commemorating Captain Adolfus Andresen  a Norwegian sailor who held Chilean sovereignty at ...
Monolith commemorating Captain Adolfus Andresen, a Norwegian sailor who held Chilean sovereignty at Deception Island in the Antarctic.
There are also several interesting structures commemorating individuals connected to the history and development of the Patagonia region and memorial buildings holding the remains of the members of organizations such as mutual societies, foreign colonies, the Chilean Navy, the Salesian Order and others.
Mausoleum of Sara Braun and her husband  Portuguese magnate José Nogueira. Mrs. Braun donated the f...
Mausoleum of Sara Braun and her husband, Portuguese magnate José Nogueira. Mrs. Braun donated the funds to build the Cemetery's Main Gate.
Main entrance to the Municipal Sara Braun Cemetery of Punta Arenas.
Main entrance to the Municipal Sara Braun Cemetery of Punta Arenas.
Funding for the construction of the solemn main entrance to the cemetery was donated by the benefactor Mrs. Sara Braun. When Sarah Braun died in 1955, her coffin entered the cemetery through the main gate that leads into the chapel, which is in the central section of the main access gate. Although not confirmed, there is a legend that Mrs. Braun established in her legacy that she would be the only one to enter through that door and that it would then be sealed permanently. The door was never used again. Over the years, rust has corroded the metal; hence opening that door is no longer possible.
The Executive Secretary of Chile’s National Monuments Council recently met with the mayor of Punta Arenas to propose that Sara Braun’s Municipal Cemetery be declared a national historic monument, reports PrensaAustral.cl (in Spanish).
“I intend to live forever. So far, so good.” (Steven Wright, American comedian, actor and writer).
More about Punta Arenas, Municipal Cemetery, Sara Braun, Chilean Patagonia
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