Cementerio del Cristo (Cemetery of Christ) – Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain - Atlas Obscura

Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain

Cementerio del Cristo (Cemetery of Christ)

This small cemetery and its chapel are located in the middle of a traffic circle. 

The roundabout was invented to manage the flow of traffic, and is an important element of many urban landscapes. When building roundabouts, planners are faced with the question of how to fill the space in the middle. Often the centers are landscaped with grass and flowers, sometimes statues or sculptures. In one town in Spain, a roundabout has an unusual occupant—a cemetery.

The town of Villanueva de la Cañada is about 20 miles northwest of Madrid. In recent decades, its population has grown, and the town has undergone changes to accommodate more people. One of  those changes was the construction of a new roundabout encircling the Cementerio del Cristo (Cemetery of Christ).

The cemetery was established in 1933, in what was then the outskirts of town. It operated for decades, but closed in 2002 when a new municipal cemetery was built. Villanueva de la Cañada experienced a lot of growth around the beginning of the 21st century, and when the town put forth a new urban plan in 2008, it included a roundabout directing traffic around Cementerio del Cristo. The city’s leaders decided it was better to leave the cemetery where it was and build around it.

Since the cemetery closed in 2002, 59 exhumations have been carried out. It still houses about 130 graves whose souls rest in a relative peace inside this roundabout.

Know Before You Go

Villanueva de la Cañada is 26 miles (42 km) from Madrid by car. Take the M-40 ring road and then the M-503 motorway. Also there are available intercity buses. The bus 581 has a direct route from Prince Pío station in Madrid. There’s a pedestrian crossing from the side of the town to access to the cemetery.

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