Tourist maps don't usually include cemeteries, but they do in Santiago.
The Grim Reaper knocking at the door is never a comforting feeling. Whether it be my door, your door, the doggy door or a neighbor's door, the cloak and sickle roaming the neighborhood gets everyone's nerves going. Fear, anger, anxiety and even excitement ripple out from every footstep as victims and survivors endure the many stages and kinds of pain, worry, heartache and loneliness that death's presence inflicts.
No place is his presence felt more strongly than at a cemetery and for this reason most people don't hang around graveyards to relax, kill time or have fun. But sometimes, the emotion, history and even beauty of these memorials can leave a stimulating, eye-opening and unforgettably profound impression on any visitor.
This was the case for me when I went to the general cemetery in Santiago, Chile. The tragic history of death in the country at the hands of the Pinochet dictatorship, along with the site's accessible urban location (a stone's throw from Metro stop: Cementarios (cemetaries)) and colorfully worn-down appearance combine to pepper the cemetery with tragic injustice, somber longing and deep-seeded struggle, love and beauty.
It provides a fascinating glimpse into Chile's past and is one of the best ways to familiarize oneself with a major part of Chilean culture. Run-of-the-mill town's people, past presidents, political leaders and those killed or "disappeared" all rest in the Cementario General. And though they have passed on, their memories remain loudly present in Chilean culture, resonating in this fascinating cemetery.
Cementario General is free and open to the public, located right next to Metro Stop Cementarios.
Natasha Young provides more info in an excellent article about a very unique way to take it in:
Here are some photos I took:
Grave of the Press
Victor Jara's grave up close