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City of Deads

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Miguel Aguirre Miguel Aguirre | 06:59 UK time, Monday, 11 October 2010

My friend and I took the taxi quickly, we were getting late. It’s almost 4pm, the sun just has gone and the cloud was turning on gray black. Sadith is my old friend, She was a little scared unlike me I was excited. We were going to meet to “El niño Ricardito” (Child Richard). He is seven years old and lives at “Presbitero Maestro cemetery”. He is dead.

The first cemetery of the city.

Presbitero Matías Maestro” was the first cemetery of Lima and one of the oldest cemeteries in America. It’s located in “Barrios altos” in the outside of downtown Lima. Before to built this cemetery, people were buried in the underground and catacombs of Churchs and Cathedrals, for this reason in 1808 a spanish priest Elías Presbitero Maestro designed this magnific monument to the deads.

Presbitero Maestro cemetery


It’s considered historical monument in Peru and America because it has extraordinary architecture and fantastic sculptures.


In this cemetery were buried the most important personalities of the century XIX and the aristocracy (rich people) from Lima. It’s a real city with streets and avenues. It has 150 000 m2, more than 685 graves, 393 mausoleum and 72 historical monuments.


The cemetery has graves of many historical Personalities of Peru in addition to the mausoleum erected in honor of the heroes of the Pacific War- (War between Peru and Chile). The most important people from the History of Lima were buried there. Writers as Ricardo Palma or José Santos Chocano, presidents as Augusto B. Leguia, intelectuals as Jose Carlos Mariategui or Raúl Porras and heroes as Miguel Grau “The lord of the seas” . People that wrote the History of Peru.

Ramon Castilla Mausoleum - President of Peru in the century XIX


Finding to Ricardito

Behind the shadows of the scultures and walls of the this cemetery are hidden stories, legends and myths. One of them is the story about “Ricardito” or The little Richard.

Ricardo Espiell Barrionuevo known as “Ricardito” was born in Lima in 1886. “The little Richard” died when he was 7 years old. Nobody knows exactly the causes of his death. He was buried at “Presbitero Maestro cemetery”.

"Niño Ricardito"

The legend tell us that his relatives made a statue in his name after his death. A big earthquake destroyed part of the cemetery and the statue dissappeared. Nobody could find the statue. Strangely after some months the statue appeared in Spain and it was intact. The president of that moment ordered to bring back it again. How the statue appeared in Spain? A mystery.

People say the statue is miracolous. Thanks to “Ricardito” that people could get a job or solve problem, for this reason they always give him any kind of gift: flowers, sweets and toys.

At the end of our visit, my friend wasnt’ afraid anymore and I thought “when the faith, the scary and the superstition are together begin a new myth”. If it doesn’t exist, we invent it”


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Miguel!

    Wow! Great job! Thank you! I've found this post really fascinating. You know these statues reminded me "the Charles Bridge" in Prague that I love so much! I really love this kind of architecture.

    Your style of writing is just amaizing! Well done, dear friend :)

    Have a nice week!

    Marina the Pocahontas, Kazakhstan - Almaty

  • Comment number 2.

    By the way I've found Mario Vargas Llosa's “La ciudad y los perros” in Russian :) am going to read it at the weekend. I'm sure it'll be great reading! Thanks for sharing us really usefull facts and information!

    Marina the Pocahontas :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Miguel , The statues are so beautiful . Thank you to share the cemetry and it 's history with us .
    Have fun and bye

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Miguel, Hope you and your freind enjoyed meeting with Richard. If I'm not wrong you like mysteries, isn't it? B/W this blogs is gripping and fascinating. Good work! Bye till your next blog.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Miguel, I like the way you write. It is a really good time to have a Peruvian blogger... because of the Nobel Prize for Mario Vargas Llosa.
    Ricardito shows us that people need to believe in something. Reality is not enough. It is sad and melancolic as the Ricardito's statue.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi everyone!!

    Thank you so much for your comments. If you can see the statue of "Ricardito" You can notice a kind of plates behind him. Well this "plates" were put by people who was helped by him.

    Thank you Marina! I've been reading your previous Blog and It was amazing, the way you write and the pictures, very descriptive and informative. Your country is awesome, I love the shape of houses and the places, I'd like to go someday! I'm so glad you're reading "The City and the dogs". I hope you like it.

    Best regards

  • Comment number 7.

    Well, here I am my dear old friend!
    I´ve just read your post... thanks for talk about me, but i have just a litle complain: I don´t was scared ... or maybe yes,I did but only because it was late!!!! jajajajajaaaa... You forgot tell them for the old man who works there and was declared : DIED in our records of identity!!! for me was ironic...
    (I don´t know if my English was good, but A promise is a promise!!!)

    I hope see you soon... Take care!!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hahaha My dear, you re so funny ! I have to accept something, "You weren't a little afraid". You were totally and completaly afraid!!!!! You told that the ghost of the mausoleum could appear in any time, did you remember that??? Anyway, Thank you to vist this blog, I hope you enjoy iT

    BYE Sadit BC

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Miguel,
    It seems quite quit the place you describe us, just to see those monuments and look for some interesting points (unless you go there to bring some thoughts to some who was beloved) you must spent the whole day! the place seems to be huge. Are there many places like this in your country?
    The first picture seems to be taken from a chess game ...(a little bit)
    see u,

  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Miguel,
    I am fascinated by your blogs, they are really good. Peru is something like my dream, I hope I would be able visit this country one day. I am especially interested in Inkä́s monuments... but now I see, there are other wonderful sites. I am looking forward your next post.
    Have a nice day,
    Tereza (Czech republic)

  • Comment number 11.


    Thank you Tereza, I hope you can come soon!!
    Sero_03, You are right! That's cemetery seem a Chessboard, but actually that cemetery seem a maze, unfortunately I couldn't take a panoramic photo, because It was late and dangerous.

    I'll post some pictures about other places in other post

    Best Regards


  • Comment number 12.

    hello Miguel! Really interesting this post. About the legend, do you believe in that? have you ever tried to "confess maybe a problem" to the statue? hum...interesting i like it. i found very funny the fact that you told about your old friend and then she appeared saying that she was not that afraid. Nice.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hello Miguel,
    It's a pleasure to read your post. I have to confess that although it was a very interesting post. to talk about cemitery is not so good for me, but as i have talked, it's amazing.
    I'm writing this post and i'm watching at the same time the amazing rescue on Chile. It's 9:31 pm, and i'm waiting for this rescue.

    Cheers - Natanael - Rio de Janeiro - Brasil

  • Comment number 14.

    It was interesting to see your photos. Thank you!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Miguel!

    First of all I'd like to thank you for this interesting post. You really have a way of captivating your readers. I suppose that's why you're a journalist :)

    It's a true fact that cemeteries can tell us a lot about our past and history. But honestly I'm not very keen on visiting cemeteries, no matter how bright and beautiful they are. Don't get me wrong - I'm not superstitious and I don't believe in ghosts but when I'm at the cemetery something makes me want to go away from there as quick as possible. It's definitely not the fear of cemeteries that draws me away from them, I just feel uneasy there. This stillness of cemeteries is unbearable for me, it drives me crazy reminding me over and over that there's no life there. That's it - the lack of life makes me want to go away from any cemetery.

    As Natanael, I'm fascinated by this rescue operation in Chile. They've already rescued fifteen miners this day. That's definitely a good piece of news :) God help them.

    Best wishes,
    Nastya, Russia

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Nastya,

    I'm glad to have you here again. I like to read your comments.
    Yes, there are 16 miners out. As yu said "a good piece of news".

    Big kiss, bye - Natanael - Rio de Janeiro - Brasil

  • Comment number 17.

    hi guy.ı come from turkey.and heyy you tod me that yo re not a christian but you often share some things about it.what ı want you is to share about ISLAM.you know ı m muslim.haha.thanks a lot in advance.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi dear Natanael!

    Once again thanks for your kind words :) I like reading your comments too, they always make me feel better because I realize that there's such a good and considerate person in this world as you. I do mean it.

    This morning when I woke up I was very glad to learn that the rescue operation was over and all 33 Chilean reunited with their families. I congratulate the Chilean people on this happy ending.

    Best wishes,
    Nastya, Russia

  • Comment number 19.

    Marina I'm with you.
    These photographs remind me of Praha. Even the colours of the statues are so similar to Praha bricks, apart from, of course, Ricardito's statue.
    I wonder whether there is any country where the superstion faith and the scary don't create legends ?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Miguel! Thanks for taking us to visit such the historical place. Realy overwhelming. Curiously, just reading this it remembered me of the person I´ve read about who was connected to Lima. Paul Gaugin of course. And just now I may better understand why this might have (?which gramma?) an exceptional meaning in his personal life and his extraordinary unusual artstic development. Your writing is very useful!m

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Miguel,

    While I was reading through your blog, my eyes were simply going through “Presbitero Maestro cemetery”, but my mind was wandering around ‘Chittagong War Cemetery, to tell truth. Really you’ve made me so. The war cemetery is in Bangladesh, located in a beautiful location, which is unimaginably lucrative. I visit it frequently as it attracts me mostly by its wonderful silence. I invite you and other bloggers to visit it. It was created by the army, and there were originally about 400 burials at the beginning. Graves have since been transferred to this cemetery from other isolated sites There are now 731 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-45 war here, 17 of which are unidentified. There are a further 20 Foreign National burials, 1 being a seaman of the Dutch Navy and 19 Japanese soldiers, 1 of which is unidentified. It also includes 4 non-war U.K. military burials.

    Thanks again for your interesting post. Look forward to your next shot.

    @ Nastya and Natanael: I also congratulate all the Chilean for this success. It’s a historical victory, I think. I really envy such type of technological development of Chile. By the way, I’d like to share an accident and our vulnerability in terms of this. I wonder how underdeveloped we are! In my country, nearby the capital city, a local bus had fallen into the Turag river on Sunday with about 50 passengers. Eight of them had made it to the shore. only 13 bodies out of the total were recovered. Surprisingly, it took 54 hours to draw the bus out of the river though it was only 40 feet under the water. And, it’s our bad luck that the rest passengers (presumably dead bodies) are still missing. I share it to you only to present how much difference exist between country to country in terms of vulnerability, technology, ability etc.

    Thanks to all.

    Ashish, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think that, it is very interesting place and as well as it is very ghostly and old.
    In my opinion, if you visit this place , you will be absorbed by this cemetery.I like cemetery , because one time I want to see this cemetery.
    I think that it is big architecturally enterprise and you can compare with other important cemeteries in the world.As regards the mystery with monument I think that is very interesting and startling and as well as big mystery.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think that, it is very interesting place and as well as it is very ghostly and old.
    In my opinion, if you visit this place , you will be absorbed by this cemetery.I like cemetery , because one time I want to see this cemetery.
    I think that it is big architecturally enterprise and you can compare with other important cemeteries in the world.As regards the mystery with monument I think that is very interesting and startling and as well as big mystery.I want one day fly to Peru I think that Peru is beautiful country with rich history and very beauty nature.I am fascinating Inkas culture and history , Inkas culture is the most interesting culture and architecture in history.


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