The fact that over 100 billion people have died since the dawn of time should be enough to explain the fact that we are running out of space to bury people. Given this reality, a new phrase “six feet above” has been coined, accompanied with the advent of high rise commentaries as an alternative to the ever growing ground cemeteries. From Tokyo to Norway, and Isreal to India; we have seen the rise of the “dead” all over the world. But none of them are as high as the Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica, in Santos, Brazil.
The building is a whopping 108 meters tall, but it wasn’t this tall when it started in 1983 by Pepe Altstut. The vertical cemetery features 25,000 storing units or dead bodies, entailing several wake rooms, crypts, mausoleums, a small waterfall, a chapel, a peacock garden and a snack bar on the roof.
This cemetery has notoriously caught the title of being the tallest one on Earth, which has turned it into more of a tourist attractions. The Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica has been one of the most visited landmarks in Santos, as per the statistics of the local tourism board.
Keeping your dead with such a nice view does sound ideal, but it doesn’t come cheap. The Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica has several wings, with differing rates for keeping a body for different views they offer. Tombs at the highest stories are usually more expensive than the rest; but as one article mentions, the dead would be “108 meters closer to heaven than a typical underground grave” while justifying the prices.
The building has 32 floors, and rows of numbered blocks with up to 150 tombs. Each block is well ventilated and is capable of accommodating up to six bodies. Usually, the body is kept for around three years, and then it is either moved to some other part of the building or is exhumed.
The logic behind keeping your dead in a “lovely view” doesn’t quite add up, but it is not stopping people from paying big bucks for the service. A three-year rental of a burial plot costs 10,000 to 35,000 Brazilian reals, which turn out to be between $5,900 and $21,000. A prolonged “burial” in this facility can be quite a burden on the relatives of the dead, but still for the people who can afford it the vertical cemetery also offers separate family burial places and memorial rooms for 174,000 reals ($54,000).