History of the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery was inaugurated on February 1868. On April 22th of that same year the first burials took place.
This was the third officially used cemetery in Cuba, after those of Cemetery of Espada and Cemetery of Columbus, cause for which a good part of the history past and present of this Caribbean city is in the stillness and the silence of more of its eight thousand tombs and other mournful constructions.
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in the city of Santiago de Cuba is named Santa Ifigenia, like that of an Ethiopian virgin baptized by the Apostle St. Matthew. The site is National Monument since 1979, by the rich historical, architectural and cultural arsenal that treasures. Hence, the concern to preserve and care for such a jewel of the Santiago and national culture, is a constant in the work of the Provincial Cultural Heritage Center and the City Conservator Office.
Names of men closely linked to the history of struggle for the freedom of the Cuban people appear in the records of the necropolis, such as Jose Marti, Jose Maceo and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
Also authentic monuments are erected to the memory of illustrious women, among them Mariana Grajales, the mother of the Maceo brothers; Maria Cabrales, wife of Antonio Maceo, and Elvira Cape. Of recent history are the tombs of Frank Pais and Josue Pais, Otto Parellada, Tony Aloma, Pepito Tey and is followed by a pleiade of young people from Santiago killed in the clandestine combat against the government of Fulgencio Batista. Today the rest of the internationalist fighters lying in other lands rest there.
The Santa Ifigenia Cemetery not only preserves history, but monumentality and fastuosity, in true works of art of granite, marble and other components that make of this, a place of reference for the visitor.
Characteristics of the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery.
Located in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, the Santa Ifigenia cemetery is a kind of place of pilgrimage, first for the locals and nowadays for many foreigners, because there is the Mausoleum to Marti, recognized as the most universal of the Cubans.
These opinions are explained by the guides, who state that it is a National Monument recognized since 1937, it is the oldest cemetery on the Island and has countless values.
Inaugurated on April 28th, 1868, it is 147 years old and in its original area is the oldest tomb, that of the Navarro family, which dates from April 25 of that year.
However, it is recognized as a fundamental value that rests on the remains of 32 generals of the wars of independence of Cuba, of which 28 were Eastern.
Among the others are Ramon Leocadio Bonachea, of Sancti Spiritus; Matias Vegas Aleman, from the Canary Islands, Spain; or the Canadian general William O’Ryan, whose tomb is very close to that of Perucho Figueredo, the creator of the National Anthem.
As part of that constellation of heroes, there are also generals Jose Maceo, Rafael Maceo, Guillermo Moncada, Flor Crombet, Luis Marti and Silverio del Prado.
The most important mausoleum is dedicated to José Marti (Havana 1853 – Dos Ríos 1895), who rested with the veterans from 1947 to 1951, when the current tomb was inaugurated on June 30th, the most important of all cemetery and Cuba.
The guides commented that their definitive burial provoked a deep mass feeling that exalts the structure that keeps the man of thought, life, work and death as a Cuban Apostle.
The old part of the cemetery is made up of tombs closed to perpetuity, since it functions as an open-air museum. After a splitter park you will find the state tombs. Everything is historical cultural heritage of the city of Santiago de Cuba.
There is the tombstone dedicated to Federico Capdevila, defender of medical students shot on November 27, 1871, although his remains now lie in the Colon Cemetery in Havana.
Another value is provided by the Cuban flags and the 26th of July Movement, which gave victory to the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
According to the guide of the cemetery, when the two flags appear it means that there rests a clandestine fighter. In Santa Ifigenia is the greater percentage of the martyrs of Cuba.
There also exists the Tomb of Duty Soldier, for the Spaniards who fought for their metropolis.
Another of the mausoleums is the one of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Father of the Homeland, which on the 10th of October of 1868 granted the liberty to its slaves so that they were united to the fight by the independence, in date that marks the beginning of the nationality Cuban. It is the work of the Italian Salvatore Bonne, in Carrara marble, with the broken chains in expression of freedom and with the laurel that symbolizes the glory. It was inaugurated on December 7, 1910, in the third burial of the hero.
They escort the sepulcher the flag hoisted in the ingenuity La Demajagua the day of the liberation of the slaves, made by the wife of Cespedes, Candelaria Acosta, and the Cuban flag.
But Santa Ifigenia is also the cemetery of music and artists, with its Path of the troubadours, where are the remains of Pepe Sanchez, creator of son; and other celebrities such as Francisco Repilado (Compay II), who, along with Buena Vista Social Club, toured the world.