Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the third oldest in Cuba

Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the third oldest in Cuba

Heritage & Traditions

By Coco Simpson

Santa Ifigenia was the third officially built cemetery in Cuba, after the Espada and Colón cemeteries, both located in Havana. This cemetery was inaugurated in February, 1868 in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.

On April 22 that same year, the first burials were made and after more than a century, it continues to perform its function. Names of figures closely linked to the history of the Cuban people's struggle for freedom appear in the records of the necropolis, such as José Martí, José Maceo and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.

Authentic monuments are also erected to the memory of illustrious women, among them Mariana Grajales, the mother of the Maceo family; María Cabrales, wife of Antonio Maceo, and Elvira Cape. 

From recent history, there are the graves of Frank País and Josué País, Otto Parellada, Tony Alomá, Pepito Tey, followed by a host of young people from Santiago who died in the combat against the tyranny of Fulgencio Batista.

Currently, the remains of internationalist combatants who have fallen in other lands also rest there. This cemetery also treasures the Mausoleum to José Martí, National Hero of Cuba and apostle of its independence, where his ashes rest, on a handful of earth from each country in America.

Inaugurated on June 30, 1951, the 24-meter high statue dominates the necropolis and is symbol par excellence. Next to the niche are the national flag of Cuba and a bouquet of flowers, making reality the maxim expressed in one of his Simple Verses: "I want that when I die, / without a homeland, but without a master, to have on my slab a bouquet / of flowers and a flag ".

The ashes of Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban Revolution, rest very close to the Marti mausoleum and his comrades in struggle inside a granite rock extracted from the Great Stone, in the Sierra Maestra, where countless combats were fought for Cuban independence.

The stone, with an approximate weight of 49 tons and a height of about 4 meters, has a green marble slab with bronze letters with the name of Fidel. Since December 4, 2016, the ashes of Fidel Catro have been there, where no Cuban or foreigner who visits the necropolis don’t pay homage to the memory and legacy of the one who dedicated his life to the Cuban people.