Welcome to the Cementerio de Nuestra Señora de La Almudena, one of the largest cemeteries in Europe. I spent the afternoon here and even then I barely scratched the surface. I’m not sure how to describe this cemetery – there are large gates and fences that leave no doubt that you are approaching a cemetery, and once inside the first thing you’ll see is a very large chapel.
Radiating out from the chapel are wall crypts, and there are regular graves on wither side of the walls, although the interior section rises pretty dramatically behind them. While I was there, there was a lot of work going on – sections of both wall and grounds being renovated. And for the first time in all my cemetery visits, there was an actual stone mason carving out letters on a gravestone – I could hear the tap of his hammer for a good while while I explored the western section.
Now, although this cemetery is really large, it doesn’t have the same grandeur of other old, large cemeteries like Pere Lachaise, Staglieno, or Zentralfriednof. Perhaps that was because the bigger monuments and statues were more spread out. The larger family mausoleums ringed the edge of the upper section of the cemetery, which seemed to be the older part. I didn’t other exploring the lower sections, it was clear that the graves were newer there, and although there were a few statues, most were of small angels. I’m sure there would be interesting it’s down there, but I had limited time and I knew the upper section would more than keep my hands full.
As you can see from the photos there were quite a number of angels, these are just a few that I was able to photograph. In the photos below, the angel with the arms crossed reminds me on the Monteverde angel you can find at Staglieno. It’s a poor copy for certain, but it definitely echoes that statue.
While most statues were religious in nature, there were a few that weren’t. I particularly liked the one grave that featured a man’s two dogs, one at each end of his feet. They were incredibly well done, and I think shows the man’s real love for his dogs (and vice versa).
Overall this was an interesting cemetery to visit. It is large, so you may want to bring water and/or snacks to keep your energy going if you plan to spend a significant amount of time here.
Monuments: A nice variety of of statues and mausoleums, but most are spread out so it takes a bit of exploring.
Grounds: There are a lot of roads here, as that seems to be the way most people get around (no benches to rest on for walkers like me). A bus also runs through the cemetery. Minor paths between the graves are also mostly well-kept.
Visitors: Mostly mourners and ground staff while I was here.
Notes: bring good walking shoes,and probably water in the summer. This is a huge place to explore.
Cemetery: Cementerio de Nuestra Señora de La Almudena (Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery)
Notable Internments: Fernando Rey (actor), Lola Flores (gypsy dancer, singer, actress), and many others (5 million)
Location: Av. de Daroca, 90, 28017 Madrid. La Elipa is the nearest metro station.
Hours: 08:00-18:30 daily