Always attentive walking through its wide streets and its most mournful corners, this fantastic Avilés cemetery encourages meditation and aesthetic delight at the same time. Its architecture, its sculptures and nineteenth-century ornaments are so beautiful that we can seriously think that the cemetery is a privilege for those who lie there, even if they are buried in perpetuity.
Su high heritage value means that La Carriona is considered one of the most important cemeteries on the continent, forming part of the «European Route of Significant Cemeteries»; an itinerary that increasingly attracts international tourists interested in this subject to Avilés.
A Little History
At the end of the XNUMXth century, the Asturian city was immersed in full economic development and population explosion, needing a new cemetery because the ones it had were too small. At that time, a Royal Cell of 1787 forced the construction of the new cemeteries away from the cities, in "ventilated places and far from houses." The area of La Carriona, a high enclave on the outskirts of the town, was an ideal place. It coincides that in this period many of the Indians who had made their fortune in America. Notable men who dedicated part of their fortune to improving Avilés' infrastructures and who, in turn, wanted to leave their mark on the new cemetery. They built mausoleums decorated with carvings and sculptures of great beauty that would accompany them into eternity.
Ricardo Marcos and Bausa, a collaborator in the "La Ciudad Lineal" project in Madrid, will be in charge of designing the new necropolis. In it, all the deceased from Avilés, present and future, wealthy or not, had to have a place. This City of the Dead, which gave continuity to that of the living, was planned with a large square floor plan and was inaugurated in 1890. In its desire to integrate, it had an ossuary and a civil part for non-Catholics from the beginning.
La Carriona: funerary museum
We speak, without being wrong, of the largest open-air museum in the city of Avilés. The beauty of some pantheons and the cemetery as a whole, have long favored a trickle of national and international recognition. In addition, it is part of the ASCE (Association of Significant Cementeries in Europe) and leads the EUCEMET project (European Cemeteries: Gardens of Souls, Diversity & Heritage), a community initiative for the enhancement of funerary arts and their historic and monumental cemeteries. .
La Carriona is a hundred-year-old site that always appears on the lists of the most beautiful cemeteries, mainly for its monuments; those that the magazine «Adiós Cultural», specialized in funerary art, has repeatedly awarded. As the «Pantheon of the Marquises of San Juan de Nieva«, awarded as Best Sculpture of the Cemeteries of Spain in the year 2015. Or also "The Slab of Time", Best Monument of Cemeteries in Spain 2022. A spectacular creation weighing four tons executed by the artist Carlos Suárez. It occupies the space of the old ossuary and its purpose is to recover the memory of the victims of Francoism. Undoubtedly, a unique and singular work that adds even more impact to the necropolis.
Whoever needs some other “tricky” motive to get close to La Carriona also has it at their disposal, because in 1993, in the plot known as Los Franciscanos, an old man was found hanged from a cypress tree early in the afternoon. . A 78-year-old from Granada, the man had been going to the cemetery for months to agree on the grave that corresponded to him and have it well arranged. He even requested that the remains in his future niche be exhumed. This black event competed in the best documented history category at a prestigious national award.
Illustrious Dead of Carriona
While the local bourgeoisie and the Indianos competed for the most ostentatious parcels and those closest to the chapel, hiring famous sculptors and architects to carry out their hypogea and allegorical carvings of a classicist style (trumpeter angels, cherubs, virgins...), other adjacent streets became They were filling with humbler and much more austere tombs, belonging to the working class.
La Carriona is for dessert an eclectic museum, where the most pretentious statues compete with owls and owls, snakes and snakes, skulls... while crosses of all kinds are spread everywhere among the crypts. It is easy to imagine that in the realm of the dead all the dead are equally "illustrious", and that it will always be a mistake for the living to value some more than others. But as unfair as it may be, and without wanting to offend anyone for the thousands of oversights that we will incur, these could be the most distinguished tombs in the City of the Dead (according to how "illustrious" its inhabitants were in life, thanks to his money or his abilities):
The most outstanding burial in the cemetery is the aforementioned "Pantheon of the Marquises of San Juan de Nieva". It dates from the year 1902 and is made of Carrara marble. The sculpture designed by the artist Cipriano Folgueras stands out in the ensemble: an angel with spread wings holding a trumpet in his right hand while his left hand points to heaven. In the tomb you can see the family crest and some lion claws in a demonstration of strength and power.
In the underground burial of the family of the marquis of teverga, the work of the same architect who designed the cemetery, Ricardo Marcos y Bausá, stands out for its Latin cross plan covered with a majestic barrel vault on which rises a large tower crowned by a winged angel.
writer's grave Armando Palacio Valdes, built in 1941, is led by the sculpture of Demetria, a character from one of his most important works, "The Lost Village". Here we read a masterful epitaph: «Traveler, if one day you climb the mountains of Asturias and stumble upon the poet's tomb, leave a honeysuckle branch on it. So God bless you and guide your steps with happiness through the Principality”.
the sepulcher of the Asturian poet Ana de Valle, author of "Blue Bird", exiled in France during the Franco regime, is a kind of point and end to her desire in life to return to Tierra. Sometimes this grave is the object of floral offerings and collective reading of some of her poems. They are also buried in La Carriona Marco del Torniello one of the most important writers in the Asturian language; relevant politicians like Julián García San Miguel or José Manuel Pedregahe, musicians like Julian Orbon, author of the musical adaptation of the text of the poet José Martí to the very popular song "Guantanamera". athletes like Yago Lamela, long jump world runner-up, or the mythical center forward of Sporting de Gijón, a much-loved person whose grave is widely visited: Enrique Castro "Quini".
La Carriona Interpretation Center
In 2012, coincidentally on All Saints' Eve, the Avilés City Council launched a pioneer facility for the dissemination of funerary art and culture: The La Carriona Cemetery Interpretation Center (CICLAC); located in the former homes of the caretaker and chaplain, here visitors have within their reach the technical plans of the most notable pantheons, burial books and many other documents on the history of the cemetery; also didactic audiovisuals and detailed information on the best works of La Carriona, its outstanding architects and sculptors and the most illustrious people from Aviles buried here.
Soft Drinks panels and brochures They provide visitors with a tour of the immediate cemetery, focusing on its most significant points. Upon registration, it is also possible to arrange a guided tour of the cemetery. So we can go in detail and well-founded and entertaining explanations, the two routes usually programmed: “art space” y "Place of memory". Two routes that, speaking of two different subjects: sculptural and architectural works, on the one hand, and biography of the dead, on the other, end up intertwining to give us an overview of past eras and the ones we have lived through.
Guided tours La Carriona Cemetery
Calle La Carriona, 9
Public Transport: L-2 Central Station-La Carriona-Miranda
Coordinates: Latitude: 43.5421N – Longitude: – 5.9381W
Hours La Carriona Cemetery
From Monday to Friday working days: 10,00:13,00 a.m. to 16,00:18,00 p.m. and XNUMX:XNUMX p.m. to XNUMX:XNUMX p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 11,00:13,00 a.m. to XNUMX:XNUMX p.m.
PHONE: 985 541 939 - 985 565 512
GUIDED TOURS: prior registration.
ENTRANCE AND GUIDED TOUR: free.
Photos «The Slab of Time» © Marcos Morilla/Avilés City Council.
Photos enclosure © La Carriona Cemetery.
Text: © Ramón Molleda for asturias.com