Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica – Santos, Brazil - Atlas Obscura
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Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica

In this Brazilian city, a vertical graveyard rules the skyline. 

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Rising from between skyscrapers and lush forests in southern Brazil is the tallest vertical cemetery in the world—a distinction celebrated in the Guinness Book of World Records since 1991. Founded in 1983 by Pepe Altstut, the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica is a 14-floor cemetery that looks more like a 1980s apartment building than a home of the dead. 

Before turning his focus to buildings for the dead, Altstut worked in construction buildings for the living. “But,” he said in the short film A Tomb With A View, “[building the Necrópole] was a personally rewarding experience because… you hear so many positive comments.” The Necrópole has expanded over the decades. “We started with a small building,” he explained. “And now, with demand, we continue building and expanding.” 

Today, the Necrópole rises almost 13,500 feet (4,108 meters) and contains 14,000 burial vaults. There are crypts, rooms to hold services, a crematorium, a mausoleum “for families who want to preserve their legacy in a more personal and private way,” according to the Necrópole’s website. There’s even a tropical garden complete with a waterfall and a small rooftop cafe to take in the view. Perhaps, strangest of all, there’s also a classic cars museum on the property as well. 

As the founder of a record-breaking vertical cemetery, Altstut sometimes tries to imagine his own inevitable demise. “But, it’s just inconceivable. I feel good. I’m happy,” he said in A Tomb With A View. Nonetheless, he said, “I’m convinced that I will find my mother, the sister I lost, and my puppy in the afterlife.”

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