Panteón de Belen, or Santa Paula Cemetery, was built to meet the need for more burial spots for victims of the epidemics, primarily cholera. Perhaps due to this tragic origin, the cemetery is shrouded in myths and tales of ghosts roaming the grounds.
Local lore includes the legends of the Pirate, the Lovers, the Monk, the Nun, the Vampire Tree, the Child Afraid of the Dark, and more. People have claimed to see these deceased residents haunting the graveyard over the years. The cemetery now offers night tours of the grounds, functioning as a sort of museum of the macabre.
The cemetery is also recognized for its historic architecture and its many high profile burials. Panteón de Belen used to be divided into two parts: one for the wealthy, and one for “commoners.” The latter was converted to a hospital after the cemetery’s closing in 1896, but the section for the wealthy has remained intact.
Know Before You Go
They are special tours at night. There are also special events during the Day of the Dead, such as comical and dramatic plays and expositions.