The forecast called for sun this afternoon, but in the end, I visited two cemeteries in the rain. I would have visited more, but I planned (or in this case, didn’t plan) badly. I assumed that most cemeteries would be open until at least 4 p.m. (but most likely 6), but I was wrong. The British Cemetery, which is only open some days, closed at 1 p.m. The other cemeteries, not far from where I am staying, closed at 3 p.m. Considering I only left the apartment at 13:30, it meant I had some hard choices to make. But St. Isidro is the oldest cemetery in Madrid, so that was definitely my first choice, and I’m glad I went.
The first thing to point out is that there is more than one entrance – one goes off to a courtyard (but was closed off when I was there) and another goes to the main cemetery, but you have to go through another building to get to that part. In any event, I was in awe of all the majestic family mausoleums that formed the main part of the cemetery. The only other cemetery that I can think of that can even come close is Staglieno in Genoa, and even then, I’m not sure if they can compare (I’ll have to go back to refresh my memory!). Some of the mausoleums were huge and had incredible detailing, both inside and out. This is the first cemetery that I’ve been to in a while that still has most of the stained glass intact in most of the mausoleums. All these amazing buildings were quite close to one another which actually made it hard to get proper photos of them – I didn’t have a wide enough angle lens to really capture how big they really were.
As with many other grand cemeteries of this type, there was a lot of very nice detailing, not only on the mausoleums, but even within the wall crypts – some had full relief statues on them, not just the standard writing.
There were many angels here, and grieving women, both young and old. My favourite, and I think the most unusual monument I’ve seen is shown in the pictures below – a sarcophagus, suspended by chains above the ground, held up by angels. I was really fascinated by the design of this entire structure.
Overall I have to say that this was my favourite cemetery in Madrid that I visited. It actually isn’t that large (although due to lack of time I didn’t really explore the newer sections), but it has the most amazing structures and monumental statues that I’ve seen so far in this country (we’ll see, though, what Barcelona holds, as I travel there next).
Monuments: Outstanding. There are some amazing statues here, but really it’s the family mausoleums that you want to see.
Grounds: The main paths are paved, and the wall crypts provide some shelter (if needed, from the rain). However, the ground is a bit muddy (in the rain) if you go off the path to explore the monuments further. There are seven patios with different views of the city.
Visitors: There were some maintenance people working here, and I saw a small group (a tour? They do hold them here occasionally) but otherwise that was it.
Notes: As noted above.
Cemetery: Cementerio Sacramental de San Isidro
Established: 1811 (the oldest in Madrid)
Location: Calle Ermita del Santo 78, 28019
Hours: 09:00-15:00 daily. Tours on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 (but you must contact them in advance)