After an outbreak of cholera in 1876 caused overcrowding at the nearby Espada Cemetery, plans were made for a new funerary place, named to honour Christopher Columbus, who “discovered” Cuba in 1492. Permits and construction works took a lot longer than anticipated, and Colon Cemetery (as Cemeterio de Cristóbal Colón is also known) was eventually opened in 1876.
The most popular grave in Colon Cemetery belongs to Amelia Goire de la Hoz, who died in childbirth in 1903. Legend has it that she was buried with her stillborn infant placed at her feet, but years later when her grave was opened (it’s unclear why this took place) the baby was found in her arms. She is now known as La Milagrosa [the Miracle Worker] and is visited by many people every year requesting miracles for their pregnancies, children or romantic affairs.
Popular within the Santería community is the grave of Leocadia Pérez Herrero, buried in 1962. Followers of Santería come and ask for charitable favours, leaving behind glasses of rum, half-smoked cigars or sacrificed chickens on her grave. If you’re interested in Santeria, you may want to check out my post on Lenin in Havana.
Some mausoleums in Colon Cemetery have fallen into a state of disrepair, as the wealth and prestige of the families they belong to made many eager to leave Cuba for exile as the communist government of Fidel Castro consolidated power in the 1960s. Current controversy affects some of these plots as they are being resold on the black market. A tomb in good condition can be worth up to $2000 (US), which is roughly eight years salary in Cuba. While some of these sales are legitimate, there are a number of cases of fraudulent deeds being produced for tombs that appear to be abandoned.
Dying to visit Colon Cemetery?
Entry to Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón is $5 (CUC) and a map can be purchased at the gate for an additional $1 (CUC). The cemetery is open from 8am to 6pm daily, with the last entry at 5pm.
remember you will die
remember you are alive