By Tony Bryant and Chris Chaplow
The municipal cemetery of Benalmádena has no religious restrictions; Muslims, Catholics, Jews and atheists are all buried alongside each other. This is also an international cemetery, so regardless of religion or nationality, anyone can be buried here. Although there are a few Muslim graves in the main part of the cemetery, there is also a separate Muslim burial ground.
Opened in January 1969, the secluded necropolis is situated above the town's old bullring and has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the coastline. The site consists of a chapel of rest, crematorium, and a hall where services take place.
Many of the first burials were of the bones of people who had previously been laid to rest in the old cemetery in nearby Arroyo de la Miel. Some were also transferred from the former graveyard of the Santo Domingo de Guzmán church in Benalmádena Pueblo. Burials are no longer authorized in the cemetery in Arroyo de la Miel; the area is being cleared for development, so all of the bones will eventually be reburied in Benalmadena.
Imperio Argentina, who died in 2003, has one of the most impressive tombs. The Argentine singer and actress's career spanned more than 50 years. She became one of Spain's most admired stars, although she was often criticised for her apparent allegiance to the fascist regime.
Ivor Emmanuel, a Welsh singer and actor probably best remembered for his role as Private Owen in the 1964 movie, Zulu, was laid to rest in the cemetery in 2007 .
Slavko Vorkapich, a prominent figure of modern cinematography in America during the early and mid-20th century.
Bebo Valdes, the celebrated Cuban jazz pianist and band leader was cremated here in 2013, as was Joan Davies, co-founder of the Sur in English in 2015, although their ashes are not in the cemetery,
Jaromir Hanush, an international scientist known as one of the 'fathers of the atomic bomb'.
Martha Chippendale, the wife of John Douglas Williams. Williams was the chauffeur of the car that was carrying President John F. Kennedy on the day he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
Paul Lukas, the Hungarian actor who was born in Budapest in 1895 and died in Tangier, Morocco in 1971, aged 76. Starring in many films in the 1930s and 1940s, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film Watch on the Rhine (1943), reprising the role he created on the Broadway stage. He is honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
There is an unconfirmed rumour that one of the actors from 1939 movie, Gone with the Wind, is interred here.
Leslie Thompson (Twitter @gauchopiper ) who works for the Francisco Camero funeral directors in Benalmádena, has since June 2018 offered guided tours around the International Cemetery. His aim is to educate culturally minded locals and tourists on the history of the cemetery, while highlighting some of its most distinguished residents.
The one-hour tour, which is free, begins with a brief talk concerning the history of the cemetery, followed by a guided tour of the gardens and tombs. Visitors can also enjoy light refreshments and the chance to ask questions.
Page source: Based on an article in Sur in English dated 1 June 2018.
Other international cemeteries in Andalucía are:
Benalmadena Municipal Cemetery
Camino de Fuentezuela
A-368 Crta Arroyo de La Miel.
Tel: 952 449 125