Portuguese cemetery wall vaults?
September 16, 2013 2:34 AM   Subscribe

I was recently in a small village cemetery in Portugal. In the cemetery there was a wall with coffins interred on shelves, with a modern lockable double glazed door over each vault so that you could look in at the contents.

It looked like a capsule hotel for the deceased. Some of the coffins were covered with fabrics, flowers and other decorations, others sat uncovered. There were about 500 of these vaults in total and the burials dated from the 1980s onwards.

I'd like to learn more about this but a cursory google search isn't turning up much because I don't know what this style of burial is called? Any ideas?
posted by mani to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Seems to be fairly common in portugal.
posted by empath at 2:38 AM on September 16, 2013

It's not just Portugese: my grandparents have been in something similar in Nashville, Tenn. since the 1980s, and Forest Lawn Cemetery --- the LA cemetery where tons of movie stars are buried --- also has such a wall.
posted by easily confused at 2:55 AM on September 16, 2013

Forgot to add: when it's a wall of closed niches for urns of cremated remains, it's called a 'columbarium'. Don't know if the same name applies for larger niches for full coffins.
posted by easily confused at 2:57 AM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: Can you see the coffins at Forest Lawn? I guess I was wondering if the Portuguese, or any other culture that might use these glass fronted vaults had a specific name for them.
posted by mani at 3:16 AM on September 16, 2013

The ones at Forest Lawn (and in Nashville, for what that's worth) have solid fronts, not glass doors. Both of those cemeteries use marble? panels, with the inhabitant's name & dates engraved on it, and perhaps attached flower holders or other decorative plaques.

The Forest Lawn walls are both outdoors and indoors; the Nashville one is a multistory building, entirely indoors.

When my grandfather died, his coffin was slid into the vault, and the panel fixed on front; when Grandmom died a couple years later, they took the panel off, slid Grandpop farther back and then slid Grandmom in (so their coffins are end-to-end, not next to or on top of each other), then re-attached the front panel. As I recall, their space is second from the top, with three more below them; the rows are about 20-25 slots wide.
posted by easily confused at 3:46 AM on September 16, 2013

I think easily confused is talking about crypt walls. Are you sure you could see the casket, or is it possible you were just seeing the niche (where flowers and candles go)?
posted by Houstonian at 3:54 AM on September 16, 2013

Response by poster: Here are a couple of photos I took. These might clear up exactly what I'm talking about. Some of the coffins were not covered, no doubt what they were.
posted by mani at 4:56 AM on September 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, except for being glass instead of stone, that's what the walls at Forest Lawn and Nashville look like.
posted by easily confused at 5:52 AM on September 16, 2013

Many of the mausoleums at La Recoleta in Buenos Aires have glass doors enabling view of the caskets within, but it's not a modern multi-chamber wall as in your pictures.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:52 AM on September 16, 2013

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