The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Cemeteries in Spain

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512. There are few public cemeteries in Spain. That of Bilboa is of modern date, and is almost the only one planted with trees, and laid out as a garden, which is mentioned by tourists. Bilboa, which has taken the lead of the Spanish towns in this and many other improvements, owes its present flourishing state to commerce; and should a more liberal government give freedom to the general trade of Spain, no doubt other towns would soon follow its example. Cemetery at Bilboa. 'This public burying-place has been enclosed in consequence of a quarrel between the Franciscan convent and the chapter of Bilboa respecting the dues of burial in a place to which both claimed a right; and the corporation completed the new cemetery at an expense of not less than 30,000l. The gateway is beautiful, and has an appropriate inscription over it. The design of the Corpo Santo is this: - A square area of about six acres is surrounded by a covered arcade, supported by Doric columns; the back of the arcade is an immense wall of brickwork, in which there are four rows of spaces for coffins, the opening one yard square, and six feet and a half long; into this the coffin is deposited; the spaces which are not occupied are slightly closed up, and a ring in the centre shows that they are vacant. When a coffin is deposited, the opening is built up with brick and lime, and a stone or marble slab fitted into it records the name of the buried. The cemetery is fitted to receive 3000 dead-a great number for so small a space; and the area beyond the arcade is tastefully laid out as a garden and shrubbery. The inscription over the inner gate is, 'Stop, thoughtless wanderer, and reflect: this gate separates the dead from the living !'' (Inglis's Spain in 1830, vol. i. p. 29.)