The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile: A Tour in 22 Photos

The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia, along the shore of Lago General Carrera

To most who pass through, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, or simply Puerto Tranquilo, is little more than a necessary pit stop on the Carretera Austral, the highway through southern Chile that traverses 1,200 kilometers of Patagonia. If it’s known for anything, it’s for the easy access it offers to the Capillas de Marmol, a peninsula of marble caves and formations situated along Lago General Carera, the country’s largest lake. I’ll always remember it as an exceedingly difficult place to find a ride out of. And for the modest community cemetery located at its southern fringe.

Tranquil, wind-swept and weathered, the Cementario Rio Tranquilo fits the consummate definition of Patagonia. It’s also unlike any graveyard you’ve ever seen. A small village of its own, it’s comprised of a few dozen mausolea built in the shape of small houses made of clapboard and tin. Some are as small as dog houses in North America, a few as large as children’s backyard clubhouses.

The first settlers didn’t arrive in the area until the late 1920s, so the cemetery isn’t that old. But it’s rough around the edges, worn and rugged, not wholly unlike those who chose the settlement as their home, and by default, the cemetery as their final resting place. As you’ll see not all are forgotten.

Best of all is the view. Resting along its western shore, the clear turquoise waters of the lake are within both earshot and a stone’s throw. A location that’s both a monument and memorial to isolation. If I ever return, it’ll be to shoot a short film here.

Twenty-two photos in all.

 

Lago General Carrera from the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Cross at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

At the village cemetery, Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Weathered rooftop over a tomb at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Inside a mausoleum at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Inside a mausoleum at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Cross at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Grave at the village cemetery in Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Wooden and weathered tombs in disrepair at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile.

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Fresh flowers at a tomb in the village cemetery at Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

At the Cemetery, Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Small tombs at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile.

Cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile along the shore of Lago General Carrera

The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia, along the shore of Lago General Carrera

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All images © Bob Ramsak 2013-2014. All rights reserved.
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  1. noel says

    Loved the little home cemeteries and the wonderful details you captured Bob. The colors and background landscape is truly stunning.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Noel – Yup, it really was a very nice setting. Even for a cemetery. 🙂

  2. Tracie Howe says

    I really enjoy visiting different cemeteries. This one looks really cool! I love the colors and the setting.

  3. Jenn @TheRebelChick says

    Wow, your photos are amazing! Those cemeteries are so pretty.

  4. Les Petits Pas de Juls says

    Not so easy to show the beauty of such a place; great job! the colors and the views are just as I remembered…

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks Jules – just remembered that you were in Puerto Rio Tranquiilo quite recently. 🙂

  5. Frank says

    Spectacular location! You took some great photos Bob.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Frank. Indeed, it’s a beautiful spot.

  6. Suki F says

    I had never thought of cemeteries as a cool place to visit. But looking at this one made me want to start.

    1. Bob R says

      I often visit cemeteries. Besides the obvious peace that awaits you, they often provide great insights into local cultures along with interesting history lessons. And the price is right, too. 🙂

  7. Muza-chan says

    Great photos. Do you know Merry Cemetery of Sapanta, Romania? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merry_Cemetery

    1. Bob R says

      No, never heard of it. Thanks, looks fascinating.

  8. Leigh says

    What a beautiful selection of photos Bob and what a setting. It reminds me a bit of a Native Cemetery I saw in central BC.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks Leigh – it was an interesting blend of local architecture and European custom.

  9. The GypsyNesters says

    I love cemeteries, I don’t know why, just do! Your photos are beautiful!

  10. jan says

    I am not big on Cemetaries but I think you have changed my mind. Fantastic Photographs.

  11. Anna | slightly astray says

    Wow, so peaceful. I love the crumbling, decaying feel, but it’s also so nice to see so many beautiful fresh flowers to show that the people aren’t forgotten!

    1. Bob R says

      It really is a great peaceful contrast and connection between the concepts of life and death.

  12. Marie-Carmen says

    Love those photos!
    The settings are gorgeous, the colours on your photos fantastic and you’ve captured some beautiful details that gives this little something to that small cemetery.

    1. Bob R says

      Merci, Marie! 🙂

  13. Mindi @ 2foodtrippers says

    We often visit cemeteries when we travel. This one looks to be particularly special.

  14. Jess says

    Beautiful! With the sunlight and colors it looks almost cheerful, until you come across a crumbling cross or headstone.

    Those little grave ‘houses’ are really interesting.

  15. Lisa says

    Beautiful! I am a great fan of cemeteries. Not sure why . . . I find a peacefulness and acceptance of death which makes me love life all the more. Some favorites: the Jewish Cemetery on the outskirts of Budapest, Pere Lachaise in Paris and one we just visited on Sunday when we were in France the Montparnaisse Cemetery. Maybe I’ll blog about this on my site! Anyway, thank you for sharing your work.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks – and you should. I’ve been to Pere Lachaise and Montparnasse, but many thanks on the tip for Budapest.

  16. Michael Huxley says

    It just shows you can find beauty in almost any place. The cemeteries in SE Asia can be particularly ornate and picturesque. Great shots as usual Bob!

    1. Bob R says

      I came across a couple nice ones in rural settings in Vietnam, but locals asked me not to take photos. So I only snuck a small handful.

  17. Marcia says

    What an amazingly beautiful collection of cemetery photos, Bob! Some of them look smaller than I expected but still beautiful. Love the flowers, too.

  18. Jon @ jonistravelling.com says

    Great photos! I went to a cemetery where the bones were all lying around/piled up on walls once, not as beautiful as this one haha!

  19. jazzy says

    These photos are beautiful, hopefully, I can see the cemetery in person someday.

  20. Kate says

    What a beautiful post. Stunning pictures.

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