Museo Cementerio San Pedro is a cemetery that is also a popular museum in Medellín. It may seem macabre to visit. But this cemetery museum is full of beautiful marble and bronze artwork and it’s also known for cultural events and tours.
In addition, Museo Cementerio San Pedro has a small church with some beautiful stained-glass windows. Furthermore, we included Museo Cementerio San Pedro in our list of the 12 best Medellín museums.
History of Museo Cementerio San Pedro (San Pedro Cemetery Museum)
Cementerio San Pedro was founded on September 22, 1842. It was based on the initiative of doctor Pedro Uribe Restrepo, who along with many others representing the elite of Antioquia decided to build the first private cemetery of the Villa de la Candelaria, which only had a population of about 9,000 at the time.
A plot of land north of the Villa was acquired for the construction of the cemetery. And the cemetery was initially called San Vicente de Paúl until 1871 when the name was changed to San Pedro Cemetery.
The site was blessed on May 21, 1845 and its first small chapel on December 20, 1849. But this chapel was replaced in 1897 by a kiosk that was located in the center of the circular courtyard. Finally, it was replaced again in 1929 by the current church at the cemetery.
Because the cemetery was founded by members of the elite of the time, it was initally called the cemetery for the rich or “white city”, due to many of mausoleums and sculptures, which were made of white marble from Italy.
With the continued growth and progress of Medellín, the cemetery needed to make additions and alterations to improve service. So, surrounding land was acquired. And the cemetery was expanded. In addition, many small wall burial units were added, opening up the cemetery for less wealthy customers.
In 1998, the cemetery was declared a museum by the Museums of Antioquia Network. And Museo Cementerio San Pedro was declared a National Monument of Colombia in 1999.
This museum is considered an integral part of the architectural and cultural heritage of the city of Medellín.
Notable Tombs at Museo Cementerio San Pedro
The list of the famous buried at Museo Cementerio San Pedro is extensive. Here are several of the notable tombs to look for:
Mariano Ospina Rodríguez (October 18, 1836 – January 11, 1885) was a Colombia politician, journalist and lawyer and was President of Colombia from 1857-1861. And his son Pedro Nel Opsina Vásquez (September 18, 1858 – July 1, 1927) was a Colombian general and politician and was President of Colombia from 1922-1926.
Carlos E Restrepo (September 12, 1867 – July 6, 1937). Restrepo was born in Medellín and he was a Colombian lawyer, writer and politician. And he was also the President of Colombia from 1910-1914.
Francisco Antonio Zea (November 23, 1766 to November 28, 1822) was born in Medellín and he was Colombian journalist, botanist, diplomat and politician. In addition, he was the Vice President of Colombia under President Simón Bolívar from 1819 to 1822.
Merceliano Vélez (June 18, 1832 – April 13, 1923) – Vélez was a Colombian general who was also a Mayor of Medellín and the Governor of Antioquia five times. In addition, he was the first law graduate from the University of Antioquia.
Pedro Justo Berrío (May 28, 1827 – February 14, 1875) – Berrío was a Colombian politician, lawyer and soldier. He was the Governor of Antioquia from 1864 to 1873. And Parque Berrío in El Centro in Medellín is named after him.
Jorge Isaacs (April 1, 1837 – April 17, 1895) – Isaacs was born in Cali and he was a Colombian writer, politician and soldier. His only novel María (1867) is one of the most read Colombian novels and has been translated into over 30 languages.
Isaacs remains are not at the tomb, as they were exhumed and sent to Cali. Also, Jorge Isaacs is on the front of the old 50,000-peso Colombian note.
Carlos Gardel (December 1890 – June 24, 1935) – Gardel was an Argentinian tango star who died in a plane crash arriving in Olaya Herrera Airport in Medellín in 1935. His remains were exhumed after a few months. And Gardel’s body was taken from Colombia through New York City and Rio de Janeiro before being taking to Argentina.
Elkin Ramirez (October 26, 1962 – January 29, 2017) – Ramirez was born in Medellín and he was a Colombian singer-songwriter and leader of the popular rock band Kraken.
In addition, there are many family mausoleums and tombs found at the cemetery. And several have statues in marble or bronze.
Museo Cementerio San Pedro is a large cemetery and there are many places open. Some are for rent while others are for sale for permanent placement.
This marble sculpture of a weeping woman holding a carnation was made to respond to both the position of a wealthy family and the pain of loss. And it’s a tribute to a love that transcends the barriers of death: the love of a mother for her child.
Tours and Cultural Events at Museo Cementerio San Pedro
There are three different tours offered by Museo Cementerio San Pedro:
- General visits of up to 40 people – Monday to Saturday 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
- Special daytime visit of up to 30 people – Monday to Saturday 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
- Special nighttime visit of up to 30 people – Monday to Saturday 6 pm to 8 pm.
The general visits are guided by a Museo Cementerio San Pedro guide. The special visits are guided by a professional expert in history, anthropology, arts, communications, architecture and psychology.
To schedule a tour, you can call +57 4 516 7650 ext. 208 or send an email to email@example.com.
Museo Cementerio San Pedro also is home to a number of literature and art programs. For example, it used to have the “Noche de Luna Llena” (Night of the Full Moon), which has now been transformed into “Atardeceres en el Cementerio” (Sunsets in the Cemetery) held each month.
During this event, visitors tour the galleries, touch the tombstones, visit the tombs and mausoleums and see the sunset with a cultural presentation, such as dance or drama by local artists. This event is free for those living in Estrato 1, 2 or 3. And it costs 20,000 pesos for others.
It appears that Colombian families regularly spend time bringing fresh flowers to grave markers in the cemetery.
How to Get to Museo Cementerio San Pedro
The easiest way to get to Museo Cementerio San Pedro is by using the Medellín Metro. To get there you would take Line A of the metro to the Hospital metro station. The cemetery is located less than a five-minute walk from the metro station.
An alternate way to get to the cemetery is via a taxi from your location. Every taxi driver in Medellín knows where Museo Cementerio San Pedro is located. And it is relatively easy to catch a taxi outside the cemetery to return.
Address: Carrera 51 # 68-68, Medellín
Phone: +57 4 516 7650
Hours: Daily 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Iglesia del Cementerio San Pedro
The beautiful Iglesia del Cementerio San Pedro at Museo Cementerio San Pedro was built in 1929. It was designed by Belgian architect Agustín Goovaerts who also designed Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores in La América.
Inside the church you will find a beautiful white interior with some gold trim. And the church has wooden pews like most of the churches in Colombia. In addition, the small church only has one longitudinal nave.
This church in the cemetery has some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows I have seen in the churches in Medellín. The large stained-glass windows in the church have religious allegories to San Lorenzo, San Vicente, San Pablo, the Resurrection and others. The stained-glass windows in the church were reportedly created by Antioqueño master Rafael Sáenz.
Also, notable in this church is the wooden altar and furniture for the organ that was designed by Luis Eduardo Arenas.
This church is used for funeral services for the cemetery. It also has Eucharist sessions on Monday to Saturday and holidays at 8 am and 9:30 am and Sundays at 8 am, 9 am, 11 am, noon, 2 pm and 4pm.
The Beautiful Churches in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
In the metropolitan Medellín metro area (Aburrá Valley), there are over 300 Roman Catholic churches. Most notably, there is a complete list of all the churches of the Archdiocese of Medellín.
We have looked at a total of 33 beautiful churches in the Medellín metro area and the Aburrá Valley in a series on this website. 22 of the churches we have looked at in detail are in Medellín and 11 of the churches are in other municipalities in the Aburrá Valley. Also, we looked at the top 14 churches in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley, which are worth seeing.
In addition, we looked at Las Lajas Sanctuary located in Ipiales, Colombia, which is considered the most beautiful church in Colombia. Also, it’s considered by many to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
Museums in Medellín
On the Medellin Guru website, we have looked at 17 different museums in Medellín:
- Museo de Antioquia – the most popular museum in Medellín, worth visiting. It’s best known for a collection of art of Medellín-born artist Fernando Botero.
- Medellín’s Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) – worth a visit with an intriguing mix of exhibitions located in a striking building.
- Parque Explora – Medellín’s popular interactive science museum and aquarium. It has over 300 activities and the largest freshwater aquarium in South America.
- Jardín Botánico – Medellín’s free botanical gardens that is also considered a museum with over 1,000 different living plants on display.
- Planetario de Medellín – Medellín’s Planetarium and space museum that is very popular and worth seeing, particularly with kids.
- Museo El Castillo – Medellín’s beautiful Gothic-style castle that is a museum.
- Museo Cementerio San Pedro – a cemetery that is also a popular museum in Medellín worth visiting. It also has a church with many beautiful stained-glass windows.
- Museo Casa de la Memoria – a museum dedicated to honoring the victims of urban conflict in Medellín and Colombia and is worth seeing to better understand the city and country.
- Museo del Agua – the popular Medellín water museum.
- Casa Museo Otraparte – a hidden gem in Envigado consisting of a museum, cultural space and café dedicated to the life and works of Colombian philosopher Fernando González.
- Museo Universidad Antioquia (MUUA) – a Medellín museum located on the University of Antioquia’s campus with a huge collection of nearly 40,000 archaeological and natural history pieces.
- Museo Casa Gardeliana – a museum located in Medellín that is dedicated to tango music and musician Carlos Gardel.
- Pedro Nel Gómez Casa Museo – a museum located in Aranjuez that is dedicated to the life and works of important Colombian artist Pedro Nel Gómez who is best known for his extensive work as a muralist.
- Museo Etnográfico Miguel Angel Builes – a hidden gem museum in Medellín dedicated to showing the cultural diversity of indigenous and ethnic groups in Colombia.
- Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture – Medellín’s palace in El Centro is one of the most photographed buildings in the city. It’s considered a museum by the city of Medellín but there aren’t very many exhibits to see inside.
- Museo Entomológico Piedras Blancas (MEPB) – an insect museum located at the Parque Ecológico Piedras Blancas, which is an ecological park located in Santa Elena near Medellín.
- Museo de Ciudad – Medellín’s City Museum, which is located next to Pueblito Paisa. This museum has a scale model of the city and a photo exhibit with photos from the 1890s to about 1950 showing the history of the city of Medellín.
The 10 English-language Colombia guidebooks that I have are missing several of these museums. And each guidebook only includes six to nine out of the 17 museums in Medellín we have looked at.
The Bottom Line: Museo Cementerio San Pedro (San Pedro Cemetery Museum)
While some may avoid cemeteries considering them morbid, Museo Cementerio San Pedro is a well-maintained cemetery in Medellín that is also considered a museum.
In my opinion, it’s worth a visit to learn about some of the history of Medellín and Colombia. And I recommend going with a tour guide, as there are some interesting stories about many of the tombs, mausoleums and sculptures.
In addition, the cemetery church is worth seeing, as it has some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows found in the churches in Medellín.
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Thanks for the interesting article with great photos. I am not much into cemeteries. But a Colombian friend took me to this cemetery-museum recently and I found it fascinating. We walked around for about 1.5 hours and it was worth visiting. My friend knew some of the history of some of the tombs but it likely would have been more interesting with a guide.
Nice article about this cemetery and museum with some great photos. And the stained glass windows in the church are beautiful.
I used to spend a lot of time there, and took lots of photographs, I was studying Fine Arts at the time. I love the mausolea, erected by the most egregious sculptors of Antioquia from the first half of the 20th century. This article brings me a lot of memories…I’ve been living in New York City for the past 12 years and not one day pass without me remembering Medellin..