TLDR? The Cementerio Museo de San Pedro is both a museum and a cemetery where you can get a glimpse of the city’s history.
The Cementerio Museo de San Pedro is one of the relics of the city of Medellín, but it’s not high on most people’s to-do lists when visiting the city.
Still, it’s actually a pretty unique place to check out, especially if you enjoy strolling through museums and learning about history.
Have I piqued your interest yet? Keep reading to learn what this cemetery is all about!
The History of Cementerio Museo de San Pedro
Cementerio Museo de San Pedro was founded in 1842 as the first private cemetery in the country.
As it was founded by the wealthiest people of the time, it was known as a cemetery for the rich. The wealthy families in Medellin brought white marble sculptures brought from Italy to adorn their graves.
Because of the countless white figures, tombstones, and mausoleums, locals began calling the cemetery “the white city.”
As an elite cemetery, people of importance buried their family members in the plot. Today, you’ll still find public figures such as the famous writer Jorge Isaac buried in the land.
By 1998, the cemetery was turned into a museum. And, one year later, the city declared it a cultural asset. Despite all that, you can still rent or buy plots of land in the cemetery for yourself or a loved one.
What You’ll Find in the Museum
When most of us think of museums, we think of enclosed, indoor spaces with paintings hung on the walls for you to admire. Because of the nature of this museum, that’s not what you’ll find on a visit to Cementerio Museo de San Pedro.
The museum is entirely outdoors, giving you the chance to wander through the graves and look at the remnants of years gone by. Additionally, since it is still a working cemetery, there are limited exhibitions.
Very occasionally you’ll see a new statue or two appear. However, these are usually new tombstones and they’re not as common as you might think.
Although there is much to see in the cemetery, there are some old tombs that stand out for their particularity.
During your visit, you should look for the tomb of Jose María Amador. This is a figure made of marble that represents the pain of losing a child and the love that transcends death.
Another statue is a work done in full bronze that adorns one of the tombs. It’s a sculpture with a faded effect, and displays the figures of three women crying together.
At first glance, it can be a very dark, sorrowful statue. But, in reality, what the crying women represent as a whole is what attracts the visitor. They’re there to show the love that we have for those we’ve lost.
These are just a few of the things you’ll find in the cemetery. Be sure to stroll around and see what else you stumble across.
If you want to explore the cemetery you’re in luck; there are multiple types of guided visits that you can take to explore the cemetery:
Daytime visits: a guided tour giving a brief history of the cemetery.
Specialized daytime tours: a guided tour on a specific topic requested, carried out by a professional in the field.
Night: historical tours run at night instead of during the day. This is great for those who spend the day working and can’t get out until the afternoon.
Individual visits: private tours that show you around the cemetery.
In terms of the specialized tours, a few of the themes that you can learn about include stories and the meaning of the cemetery as well as funerary art and architecture.
You don’t need to call ahead for these visits. You can simply arrive at the cemetery and join one of the groups strolling through the area!
Cultural Events in Cementerio Museo de San Pedro
When you hear the word cemetery, you’re probably picturing somewhere dark and silent. Maybe a few ghosts even come to mind.
However, Cementerio Museo de San Pedro, while certainly a solemn place, isn’t dark and gloomy. In fact, it often hosts cultural events.
For example, every New Moon the museum holds an event where you can check out local artists performing plays or dancing in the light of the moon.
One of the main ideas of what this cemetery represents is to change the negative perspective of death and show that it’s part of the beauty of life.
And, I’d say it definitely accomplishes its mission.