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Discover the Enigma of Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery: A Historical Gem in Laguna

Nestled in the serene town of Nagcarlan, Laguna, the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is a unique and historically significant site in the Philippines. This subterranean burial ground, the only one of its kind in the country, offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich history and cultural heritage. This article delves into the captivating history, architectural marvels, and visitor experiences at the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.

Historical Background

The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery was established in 1845 by Franciscan priest Fr. Vicente Velloc. Originally intended as a public burial site, it was later used as a secret meeting place for revolutionaries during the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonial rule. The cemetery’s historical significance is further highlighted by its role in the struggle for independence, serving as a hidden sanctuary for Katipuneros and local heroes.

Architectural Marvel

The cemetery’s architecture blends Spanish colonial and Filipino elements, reflecting the cultural fusion of the period. The circular cemetery is enclosed by a red-brick perimeter wall, with an intricately designed wrought-iron gate leading to a small chapel at its center. The chapel, adorned with religious motifs, serves as the entrance to the underground crypt. The crypt, located beneath the chapel, houses the final resting places of prominent families and local elites, characterized by its arched ceilings and stone niches.

Go forth, Mortal man, full of life 
Today you visit happily this shelter,
But after you have gone out,
Remember, you have a resting place here,
Prepared for you.

The writings inscribed before reaching the underground cemetery
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The first entrance leading to the Underground Cemetery.
The first entrance leads to the Underground Cemetery.
Under this door is where members of the elite were buried.
Under this door is where members of the elite were buried.
The stairs lead down to the cemetery.
The stairs lead down to the cemetery.
There are 36 tombs arranged in four rows inside Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
There are 36 tombs arranged in four rows inside Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery.
The chapel inside Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery shows an image of Jesus Christ laying down.
The chapel inside Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery shows an image of Jesus Christ laying down.

Unique Features

The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery stands out due to its unique underground crypt, which is rare in Philippine cemeteries. The crypt’s cool, dimly lit ambiance offers a solemn and reflective atmosphere, allowing visitors to connect deeply with the past. The cemetery grounds are meticulously maintained, with lush gardens and pathways that add to its tranquil and contemplative environment.

Visiting the Cemetery

A visit to the Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is a journey through time. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Guided Tours: Knowledgeable guides provide historical insights and share intriguing stories about the cemetery’s past, including its role in the revolution.
  • Chapel and Crypt: Explore the small chapel and descend into the underground crypt, where you can see the well-preserved burial niches and learn about the individuals interred there.
  • Beautiful Grounds: Stroll through the manicured gardens and appreciate the peaceful surroundings, perfect for reflection and contemplation.
  • Photographic Opportunities: The cemetery’s unique architecture and serene landscape offer excellent photography opportunities, capturing this historical gem’s essence.

How to Get There

Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is easily accessible from Manila, located approximately 100 kilometers south of the capital. Visitors can take a bus or drive to Nagcarlan, with the journey typically taking around 2-3 hours. From the town center, the cemetery is a short tricycle ride away. The site is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, with entrance fees helping preserve this historical landmark.

Nearby Attractions

While visiting Nagcarlan, consider exploring other nearby attractions to enhance your trip:

  • Nagcarlan Church: A beautiful Spanish-era church located near the cemetery, known for its intricate façade and historical significance.
  • Bunga Falls: A picturesque twin waterfall located a short drive from the cemetery, ideal for a refreshing dip and nature appreciation.
  • Liliw Town: Famous for its high-quality footwear, Liliw is a charming town where you can shop for locally made sandals and shoes.
  • Majayjay Falls: Also known as Taytay Falls, this natural wonder offers a cool retreat with its clear waters and lush surroundings.

Conclusion

The Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery is a unique and historically rich destination that offers a deep connection to the Philippines’ past. Its blend of historical significance, architectural beauty, and serene environment makes it a must-visit site in Laguna. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or a curious traveler, visiting this underground cemetery promises a profound and memorable experience.

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Location Information

The Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan is located along the highway and around ten minutes from Nagcarlan Town Proper.

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