Panteon Nacional Roman Baldorioty de Castro
The legendary Roman Baldorioty de Castro is a well known figure in the history of Puerto Rico. He became an outspoken politician who fought for independence and autonomy, and was a leading abolitionist in the country. After his passing on 30 September 1889, Roman Baldorioty de Castro was buried in one of Puerto Rico’s oldest and most historic cemeteries. His burial also resulted in the change of the cemetery’s name to Panteon Nacional Roman Baldorioty de Castro. Today, the cemetery is the final resting place of numerous celebrities, and has become a popular attraction in the city of Ponce.
The Panteon National Roman Baldorioty de Castro was established in 1842 as the main cemetery for the city. It grew into a famous burial ground, and is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places under its original name of Cementerio Antiguo de Ponce. The mayor of Ponce, at the time, Don Juan Rondon Martinez inaugurated the newly established cemetery in the year 1843, and interestingly he was the first person to be laid to rest here.
Restoration work and additions were made to the cemetery in 1964, with new pathways and walls being constructed as well as work being done to the mortuary and the chapel. All the structures in the cemetery were built in a neoclassical style, complete with barrel vaults, pilasters and Greek pediments. Construction was done using mortar, argamasa and bricks to create the strong walls. Argamasa is a mixture made of lime, sand, brick (crushed) and stone aggregate. The Panteon Nacional Roman Baldorioty de Castro cemetery was eventually closed in 1915. As the years passed, the cemetery began to deteriorate, with plundering and vandalism becoming a great concern by the year 1984. The authorities decided to step in to preserve this historical site in 1990, beginning with restoration work and reconstruction of buildings that were destroyed.
A small museum was also erected on the grounds, dedicated to autonomism in Puerto Rico. Visitors to the cemetery will be able to view the graves of people such as Manuel G. Tavarez (Musician and Composer), Don Juan Seix (Ponce Fire Department Founder) and Juan Morel Campos (Composer and Musician). It is a peaceful and quiet look into the history of Puerto Rico and people who have made a significant contribution to the country.