Arriving at Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, in the city of Santiago de Cuba and passing over its threshold means going into a world of history and legends.
When the necropolis was inaugurated in February 1868, it was in the form of a Roman cross, divided into courtyards. The main ones were used to bury those high up in the social hierarchy, and they move outwar
d until arriving at the areas where those perishing from the reiterated yellow fever and cholera epidemics were laid to rest.
On a quick imaginary tour through the cemetery, we should mention diverse funeral structures that have become landmarks because of their historical, architectural or artistic values. Illustrative of this is the pantheon erected to the father of the homeland, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes
, an expression of the Cuban
people’s devotion to the man who liberated his slaves and lit the emancipating flame on October 10, 1868.
A very special place in the cemetery is the Altarpiece of the Heroes, the resting place of Generals Jose Maceo, Guillermon Moncada and Flor Crombet, who headed a legion of officers and soldiers in the two 19th-century independence war
s on the island. Another highly venerated place in Santa Ifigenia Cemetery is the mausoleum
erected to the memory of national hero Jose Marti
, always adorned with fresh flowers.
Walking through the interior courtyards of the necropolis, the visitor also observes funeral structures from the 19th and early 20th centuries where significant personalities from different spheres of Cuban
social life were laid to rest, including Emilio Bacardi Moreau and Elvira Cape, Mariano Corona, Juan Bautista Sagarra, Desiderio Fajardo Ortiz and Germán Michaelson. The elegant sepulchers of well-to-do 19th-century Santiago families also deserve to be mentioned. Many of the graves have coats of arms, as does that of the marquise of Delicias de Tempu, and that of Count Duany.
An indissoluble mixture of history and art reigns in the graves of countless fighters and heroes who died for the ideals of a sovereign homeland: Otto Parellada, Pepito Teny, Tony Aloma and Frank Pais
. The Mausoleum of the Revolution’s Martyrs and the Pantheon of the Revolutionary Armed Forces leads us towar
d the monument dedicated to Cuban
s who died in other lands on internationalist missions.