- Address: intersection of Calle 12 and Calle 27, Havana, Cuba
- Telephone: +53 7 832 10 50
- Square: 57 ha
- Foundation date: 1876
- Architect: Calisto de Loira
- Entrance: free
- Working hours: from 9:00 to 17:00
Colón Cemetery is one of the oldest in Havana, founded in the mid-1870s. It is located in the Vedado area on the site of the ancient Espada cemetery.
There are more than 800,000 graves in the Colon cemetery, including the graves of ordinary people, as well as family crypts and the last refuge of many celebrities. Among the latter it is worth noting:
- Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodriguez de Tio;
- film director Santiago Alvarez;
- Puerto Rican war hero Juan Risu Rivera;
- Cuban President José Miguel Gomez;
- photographer Alberto Korda;
- poet and revolutionary Rubén Vilén Martinez;
- writer and journalist Cirilo Villaverde;
- pianist Ruben Gonzalez;
- musician Ibrahim Ferrer;
- composer Hubert de Blanca;
- policy of Eduardo Chibas and many other public figures, athletes, cultural figures.
The entrance to the cemetery of Colon is decorated in the form of a magnificent central portal, which is a high arch in the Romanesque style. Puerta de la Paz («Gate of Peace») is decorated with 3 majestic statues, symbolizing faith, hope and mercy.
The cemetery is famous for its sculpted tombstones and commemorative monuments, many of which are considered true works of art. There are about 500 of them in total, among which the most notable are two monuments erected in honor of baseball players who played in the Cuban League (dated 1942 and 1951), and a memorial to firefighters who tragically died while extinguishing a giant fire in May 1890, 23 m high. It depicts an angel of God with a blindfold, raising the body of a dead firefighter to heaven, which symbolizes divine mercy for all, regardless of skin color, race and religion.
Mostly in the Colon cemetery there are various sculptures, stelae or statues made of snow-white marble, but there are also original tombs in the form of Egyptian pyramids, Gothic crypts, ancient Greek temples or avant-garde spherical structures, most of which are distinguished by unique decorative elements. Empty jars often stand on the tombstones of ordinary people, symbolizing the soul separated from the body. The central chapel resembles a cathedral in Florence.
Between 1898 and 1899, Columbus Cemetery contained the remains of US Navy sailors who died in the bombing of the USS Maine, which sparked hostilities in the Spanish-American War. Now the heroes are reburied at Arlington Cemetery.
Colon is a wonderful place to reflect on the hustle and bustle of life due to its relative seclusion. All the graves are very well maintained, so the cemetery looks neat. Many urban legends are associated with it: about a faithful dog who visited the mistress’s grave every day, or about the beautiful Milagros, who died in childbirth and is considered the patroness of the mothers of Havana. Tradition says that even in the grave, the mother holds the newborn at her breast, although during the funeral he was placed at her feet. Some Cubans firmly believe that when performing a certain mystical ritual while visiting her grave, the girl will fulfill the most difficult request. It consists in the fact that a woman knocks on the tombstone with a bronze ring, goes around it counterclockwise and leaves without turning her back to the grave.
The strange burial of Rodriguez Karta, buried with a pistol in his hand in an upright position, also attracts attention. It is also possible to order a paid tour that costs about $5 and learn more interesting facts about the old cemetery. The column has a perfectly even rectangular shape with clearly marked «streets» with the help of signs. Romantics who go to the cemetery believe that it is here that angels descend to earth.
The following fact is also noteworthy. Most of the graves require a rent, so after a certain period of time, if there is no payment (usually $10), the remains are exhumed and stored in special containers in a separate columbarium.
How to get to the necropolis?
The Colon cemetery is located almost in the center of Havana. From the Malecon promenade you can walk here (distance just over 2 km) or call a taxi. Also, connoisseurs advise taking the TurBus tourist bus at the gates of Central Park and getting off right at the gates of the cemetery.