Winged seraphims and dramatic bodies sculpted in stone greeted us as we entered the Necropolis São Paulo, also known as St Paul Cemetery. The sculptures would not look out of place in a medieval church, and indeed, some of the monuments and family mausoleums are almost little chapels unto themselves.
The resting place of many a Paulista elite, Necropolis São Paulo has seen over 140,000 burials within its grounds since its founding. Amongst them, politicians, writers, artists and society figures but also perhaps more people of more humble origins, whose remains line the walls of the huge cemetery in little niches, somewhat overshadowed by the grand monuments in the more prime real estate within the cemetery.
The resting place of Paulistas past and present offer a glimpse into the city’s multifaceted history. Amongst some of the tombs, I spotted a number of Japanese names, no doubt from Christianized Japanese immigrants (Nipo-brasileiro) that have sought a new life in Brazil.
Grand sculptures adorn the many mausoleums in the cemetery
But the cemetery is also the resting place of Paulistas of humbler backgrounds.