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Havana Chinese Cemetery

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Havana Chinese Cemetery Entrance
Chinese Cemetery

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Havana Chinese Cemetery iner view
Chinese Cemetery

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The first Chinese consul, Mr. Liu Liang Yuan, started negotiations for the cemetery construction on December 11, 1882. However, it was not until May 18 1893 that authorization was granted, after overcoming all the obstacles imposed by the Catholic Church. The Havana Chinese Cemetery opens its doors on October 1893.

Originally, it occupied 9000 m² of the “Las Torres” farm, a property of the wealthy Don Federico Kohly. Costs of land and works projected by Engineer Isidro A. Rivas reached the sum of 23 700 gold pesos (which was a quite big amount of money for that time).

The original cemetery was divided in four regular squares, with two central streets crossing each other perpendicularly. An iron grate fenced the whole area. In the interior stood out the guard's room, a corpse recognition room, the garage of the cart for the poorest, an ossuary, and a hall devoted to burn sandalwood and phony money as offerings to dead. Common graves covered the surface of the squares. Chinese named the squares: Alive (or Humanity), Dead, Heaven and Earth.

In the 40s, owing to the “Nuevo Vedado” neighborhood urbanization plus the final layout of 26 Avenue, the cemetery surface decreased to 8 189, 9 m², altering the parcel symmetry. At the same time, the façade was modified.

“Chung Wah" Casino, the original landlord, which also authorizes burials and exhumations, had extended these rights to spouses and descendants up to second generation.

At present, there are not vestiges of any original construction. The 422 architectural objects now visible exhibit diverse styles, as chapels, barrows, niches, and false vaults called ¨murito chino¨ (Chinese small wall) which are predominant with 316 objects.

According to legend, Cuban-Chinese people call the remains of one burial (today practically destroyed), the tomb of the “Miraculous Saint”. They go there to ask for well-being and prosperity, depositing coins, as offerings.

For its values, this cemetery has been declared National Patrimony and an inscription in the entrance certifies this.



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