San Miguel Cemetery

Mysticism of the Day of the Dead: San Miguel Cemetery

The San Miguel cemetery is one of the many sacred places of Oaxaca where magic explodes in thousands of candle flames, softly swirling in the night wind of November. More than 2000 nichos of the cemetery are beautifully illuminated for the festivity. Also tombs are decorated with flowers, candles, food, beverages, crosses and pictures. The image is a perfect frame of mysticism, myth, legend and tradition.

The dark cemetery loses its scary concept of place where death seems to dwell for these days, adults and children walk through halls and aisles in the deep night admiring the artwork made in order to receive the dead ones in these magical moments.

In 1829, due to the decree of the new laws regarding burials, ordered due to the death indexes recorded in the city of Oaxaca by the viruela epidemics a proper place had to be chosen as a cemetery, and this was the land located between the Jalatlaco river and the municipal quarry mines. It was named General Cemetery.

In 1833, that the cemetery was again used to bury the numerous victims of cholera. In 1834, the cemetery was provided with the boundaries with a provisional fence, and in the center a chapel surrounded by nichos was built, and we may say this was the first municipal cemetery in Oaxaca, which was called San Miguel.

In 1839, the City Hall authorities decided to improve it, and appointed the advisor and drawing teacher Francisco Bonequi to project a cemetery in all the extent of the word.

Once the project was accepted, Bonequi was appointed as director of the works. Unfortunately due to the constant rebellions that were held at that time in the city, the construction was suspended when certain advance had been reached and the project of the "huge chapel that should be in the middle of the cemetery" was lost, and thus it was never finished.

Even not concluded, the cemetery was used as such since then thanks to the decree of September 5th 1844, that restricted definitively burials in temples.

Finally, four walls of 113 meters each, and a simple "frontispiece" comprised the building finished in a Tuscan style. Inside it, four galleries are risen, comprised by 100 arches of the same order, with 2355 nichos or sepulcros of stone symmetrically open in the wide walls.

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