The Heritage of Death and Dancing

Medellin, the Colombian city once notorious for its drug cartel and violence, has apparently cleaned up its act.  Part of the change is an aggressive if unlikely heritage marketing campaign, featuring an unlikely duo of elements of the physical and cultural landscape that are new to the “official” heritage world.

From Colombia Reports:

Tour buses and tango in Medellin’s cemeteries

THURSDAY, 11 MARCH 2010 10:56 CAMILLA PEASE-WATKIN

Medellin is embarking on a new venture to introduce visitors to the city’s historically fascinating network of cemeteries, with organized tours by day and full-moon tangos by night.

San Pedro Cemetery

The city’s tour bus company, Turibus, will be working together with one of the city’s most popular museums – situated within the San Pedro cemetery – to provide tourists and locals with an insight into the historical and cultural importance of the burial sites.

Supported by the San Pedro Cemetery Foundation and bus company Seditrans, Turibus will on March 13 launch a new bus route for tourists, running every Wednesday and Saturday and serving each of Medellin’s major cemeteries, including San Lorenzo, San Pedro and Universal.

Participants on the tour will be provided with information about each of the cemeteries, learning about their relevance to Medellin’s history.

The director of the San Pedro Cemetery Museum, Patricia Garcia Zapata, told Colombia Reports that the project is designed to be “both cultural and educational,” aiming to create “a better use of [Medellin’s] cultural heritage.”

She explained that the cemeteries can offer a compelling cultural experience, which in her experience has led them to be a popular attraction among foreign tourists, as well as with Colombians.

To complement the cemetery tours, Garcia Zapata announced the introduction of the San Pedro Museum’s “Full Moon Nights.”

The museum will host performance-filled nights aiming to teach visitors about the artistic heritage of the city, with a particular focus on tango dancing – harking back to the favorite practice of Medellin’s 1950s cultural crowd.

To read the full story click here.

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Tango was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural heritage list in 2009 (Argentina – Uruguay).  For more on Medellin’s distinctive Tango subculture, click here.


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