This enormous necropolis in Madrid is the largest cemetery in Spain, and one of the largest in the world. It’s the final resting place of around five million people—more people than are currently living in the city of Madrid.
Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery (Cementerio de Nuestra Señora de La Almudena) is truly a city of the dead. Throngs of visitors, especially on All Saints’ Day, on November 1, navigate the burial ground through streets with names and changing sections that vary like different neighborhoods.
There’s a separate walled area for the tombs of the rich and famous, which are almost like mini houses, some with doors and windows. In another section, the graves of poorer residents aren’t burial plots at all but rather rows and rows of stacked crypts that look like apartment buildings housing cremated remains within niches several stories high.
In the center is the historic section of the cemetery, with beautiful marble tombstones and statues dating back to the 19th century. The cemetery was built in 1884 and grew rapidly as the cholera epidemic spread.
Although not as grand as the cemeteries in Paris, Almudena still has some ornate and interesting gravestones. The most important sights are the the elaborate, Moorish style entrance and chapel, as well as the views of the city and cemetery grounds from the top of the long wall with pigeonholes. Of course, the place is also home to several stray cats who live among the graves.
Know Before You Go
Metro Line 2 will get you to the Elipa station, from where you should walk to the entrance which is about half a kilometre away.