LA PAZ – La Paz’s General Cemetery is the final resting place of presidents, war heroes and martyrs, providing visitors who take the time to explore the numerous graves and mausoleums with a window into Bolivia’s history.
The cemetery is like an “open-air museum,” giving people a unique way to learn about history, the head of the La Paz city government’s heritage department, Ximena Pacheco, told EFE.
“This place is home to important people, who contributed to the history of the country and La Paz in many ways,” Pacheco said.
The General Cemetery opened in 1831 during the administration of Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz, who governed Bolivia from 1829 to 1839, as the first burial ground for the city’s dead.
Until the cemetery opened, burials usually took place in churchyards.
When it opened, the cemetery was located outside the city, but it was eventually enveloped by La Paz as it grew during the 20th century.
Today, the cemetery is in the middle of the capital and surrounded by a commercial district.
One landmark is the military mausoleum, which holds the remains of the heroes of the 1879 War of the Pacific against Chile and features a marble statue of a Bolivian soldier and the message “Reivindicad el Litoral,” a reference to the Andean nation’s long struggle to regain access to the sea.
A more recent tomb is that of Spanish Jesuit priest Luis Espinal, who was assassinated in 1981 and bears the inscription “martyr of democracy.”