The Azul Municipal Cemetery entrance is one of more than 60 public works Italian-Argentine architect Francisco Salamone built between 1936 and 1940. At nearly 70 feet high (21 meters) and over 140 feet wide (43 meters), the structure towers over visitors.
At the front stands an angel, wielding his sword and casting a furrowed brow upon onlookers. The Cubist sculpture is marked by dramatic, distorted facial contours that play tricks on the eyes, depending on the angle and light. Rumor has it that when the entrance was constructed, the citizens had concerns over its cost and swore that RIP stood for “Resulta Imposible de Pagar,” or “Turns Out It’s Impossible to Pay For.”
Salamone’s works include mainly town halls, cemetery entrances, and slaughterhouses in small frontier towns in the rural grasslands of Argentina. His architecture was a combination of many styles including Art Deco and Italian Futurism. Built in concrete, the structures often loom over these small towns, seen as propaganda works that reinforce municipal power and authority.
Know Before You Go
Azul was declared Argentina's "City of Cervantes" by UNESCO in 2007 and maintains some impressive Don Quixote collections, as well as six other Salamone structures. Make it part of a Salamone-inspired road trip and stop in Villa Epecuén, the ghost town where there is an abandoned Salamone slaughterhouse.