Ever since I was young, I’ve had a certain love of the morbid. My very first memories are of my mother’s funeral, which I’ve come to terms with, but perhaps that explains my infatuation with cemeteries. There is something about the quiet peace, the demurred yet intense emotions, the beauty of the headstones, the symbolism known only to the families of the departed, and the mystery of the afterlife… all of these fill me with wonder and excitement whenever I walk through a cemetery.
As far as I’m concerned, cemeteries offer some of the best opportunities for photographers. They unite the world because everyone experiences the loss of loved ones, and regardless which country you are in that loss is a deeply personal and memorable experience. But, they also allow one to glimpse the subtle differences between cultures in how they express and immortalize the memories of their departed.
Today, I’m going to share some photos of one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever had the chance to visit, The Cemetery of the Illustrious in San Salvador. While not the most manicured, this cemetery has some of the most incredibly amazing sculptures, mausoleums, and tombs in the Americas.
The Cemetery of the Illustrious is the final resting place of many of El Salvador’s most celebrated, famous and infamous former residents such as the founders of the National Liberation (FMLN) and the leader of the Nationalist Republican Alliance El Salvador (ARENA). Additionally many of the country’s well known artists, writers and musicians are interred here as well– Salarrué, Arturo Ambrogi, Claudia Lars and Alfredo Espino.
The cemetery is open to the public daily from 7:30 to Noon and from 1:00 to 4:30, with free public parking and a decent metropolitan police presence. You can even arrange a night tour by contacting the General Administration of Cemeteries of San Salvador a week in advance, something I wish I would have known before visiting!
If you have any suggestions about particularly interesting cemeteries around the world, please comment below so I can put them on my bucket list! I know it’s somewhat odd, wanting to visit a bunch of cemeteries before I spend eternity in one.