The visit to the cemetery is sometimes marked by grief, when we say goodbye to someone, or by remembrance, when time has passed we honor their memory. But another reason to go to the cemetery is to enjoy the monumental complex itself, with all its history and beauty. The cemeteries themselves organize guided tours, literary routes, dramatizations… especially on these dates, between the Dead, Saints and Samhain.
Several Galician cemeteries are recognized by the ASCE (Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe): English Cemetery of Camariñas, Santa Mariña Dozo in Cambados, San Francisco in Ourense, San Amaro in A Coruña and San Froilán in Lugo. These last two, are also included in the Route of European Cemeteries.
Let’s stop to think: Do we know the cemeteries of our city? And the outsiders? Where will Rosalía be buried? And Pondal? How about we take a tour of the most beautiful cemeteries in Galicia?
English Cemetery, Camariñas. Between the point of O Boi and the point Cagada there had already been shipwrecks, but that of the English battleship Serpent, on November 10, 1890, was the most serious, with 172 dead. Only three crew members were saved. With the help of the entire town, a cemetery was built to bury the 142 recovered bodies, in front of what has since been called “baixo do Serpent”. The remains of the captain and the officers rest in the inner enclosure and, outside, those of the sailors. It is a very simple construction, dominated by the landscape, with Mount Branco in the background and the large reserve of Corema album flowers.
Cambados Cemetery. “The most melancholic cemetery in the world”, according to Cunqueiro, is located next to the ruins of the church of Santa Mariña Dozo. This is a temple of maritime Gothic style from the 12th century, with remains of the previous Romanesque chapel, and was abandoned in the 19th century. Practically we only see the skeleton of the church. Here is buried Josefina Blanco, Valle-Inclán’s wife, next to her son.
Adina Cemetery, Iria Flavia. It is next to the church of Santa María de Iria Flavia. “O simiterio de Adina/ n´hai doubt that it is enchanting,/ cos seus olivos escuros/ de vella remembrance”: this is how Rosalía de Castro saw it, who was buried here until 1891, when she was taken to the Pantheon of the Illustrious in Santiago. There are no niches here, all the tombstones are attached to the ground. And they are very old, there are even anthropomorphic sarcophagi from between the 6th and 10th centuries. There are also two stone crosses and several ancient olive trees. Camilo José Cela sleeps forever under one of them.
Santa Maria A Nova, Noia. The cemetery is next to the church, which is in the maritime Gothic style, with a single nave with a wooden roof. It houses the Museo de las Laudas, where we find guild tombstones and medieval sarcophagi. In the cemetery, the Gothic transept and another with a canopy, “O Cristo do Humilladoiro”, from the 16th century, stand out. In addition, it has more than five hundred graves and tombstones from between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Mondoñedo Old Cemetery. The structure of this cemetery is undisguisedly classist: in the upper area, the pantheons of the upper class; in the middle one, the middle-class tombs and, in the one closest to the ground, the burials of humble people. Dust we are… We can see the tombstones of Cunqueiro, Leiras Pulpeiro and Pascual Veiga, among others. The civil cemetery area is used as a park.
Cemetery of San Francisco, Ourense. It stands on the slopes of Montealegre, next to the old convent of San Francisco. It has high-quality sculptural groups, such as those of Faílde. Here lie Blanco Amor, Otero Pedrayo, Risco, Cuevillas, Parada Justel… There is also the poet José Ángel Valente, who was honorary president of the Association of Friends of the Cemetery, and one of the promoters of its conservation. Here also rests Asunción González Vázquez, considered the first recorded victim of sexist violence in Ourense. His tombstone reads: “Poor Asunción!”
San Froilán Cemetery, Lugo. It is 500 m from the Camino Primitivo de Santiago. It is the work of the rationalist architect Eloy Maquieira, and stands out for its clean spatial arrangement. Many of the funerary constructions were moved from the old municipal cemetery. It is a very active cemetery: it organizes photography competitions, training days, guided tours, dramatized readings, concerts…
San Amaro Cemetery, A Coruña. Here eternal rest overlooks the sea. There is a religious area, another civil and the British, closed to the public. In addition, it has some collective monument, such as the one dedicated to the Martyrs of Liberty, to the victims of the Montrove plane crash in 1973 or the Broken Column in memory of the general strike of 1901. Among the tombstones we find the names of Isidoro Brocos, Eduardo Pondal, Murguia…
Pereiro Cemetery, Vigo. It was designed by Jenaro Pérez de la Fuente, who was even in charge of the pantheon where his remains rest, right here, of course. Walking among the tombs is walking through the history of the city, it looks like a street map from Vigo: Policarpo Sanz, Sanjurjo Badía, Cachamuíña, García Barbón… Although the star is Concepción Arenal. There is also a Garden of Historical Memory, in the civil cemetery. Another attraction is the Dodge Carreiro, an elegant hearse from c. 1930.
Bonaval Park, Santiago. The Bonaval cemetery, next to the convent of Santo Domingo de Bonaval, was inaugurated in 1847 and continually expanded until it was no longer used for funerary purposes in 1960. It has been converted into a magnificent park, rehabilitated by Siza, which preserves empty funerary structures . In the church of the convent we can visit the Pantheon of the Illustrious Gallegos, where Rosalía de Castro, Alfredo Brañas, Cuevillas, Asorey, Fontán and, aside, Castelao are.