Fans visited on Monday, for its opening to the public, the mausoleum where rests the remains of Brazilian football star Pelé, who died in December at the age of 82, in the city of Santos (southeast).
Two golden statues of “King Pelé” awaited the first visitors at the entrance to the mausoleum of Edson Arantes do Nascimento. Pelé had bought a concession in the ecumenical necropolis of the port city, where he played for most of his career and built his legend.
The final resting place of Pelé, who died of colon cancer on December 29, is in a “vertical cemetery”, the highest in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records. His father, his brother and one of his daughters are also buried there.
The mausoleum specially designed for him covers 200 m2 and is reminiscent of a football stadium, with its synthetic turf and photos of the “King”. Access is via a two-meter-wide corridor decorated with photos of the old “number 10”. It is located on the 1st of the 14 floors of the imposing building.
“We still feel a lot of pain, a lot of nostalgia, but also a lot of pride and joy in front of all the marks of tenderness and respect he receives,” Edinho told journalists present, including AFP. one of the six children of Pelé, very moved.
The body of the triple world champion rests in a shiny golden coffin, adorned with a cross. On the sides, two black panels represent the thousandth goal that Pelé had celebrated with his fist in the air.
For now, only 60 people can visit Pelé’s mausoleum each day, although Santos hopes to make the vertical cemetery a tourist spot.
The extraordinary necropolis, surrounded by generous nature, looks like a grand hotel from the outside, with its white facade. It offers 18,000 graves to accommodate the coffins of the deceased and a columbarium for the urns containing the ashes.
The luxurious establishment designed by an Argentinian entrepreneur occupies four hectares of land and offers meditation rooms, rest suites, a 24-hour restaurant, a chapel, an automobile museum, an aviary and a pond with fish.
From the vertical cemetery, anyone who has come to pay their respects to Pelé can see, less than a kilometer away, the Vila Belmiro stadium of Santos FC, where a moving tribute was paid to him by tens of thousands of fans gathering in front of his remains. end December.
Ronaldo Rodrigues, a 44-year-old small business entrepreneur, and his wife Erika Taboaisa Pereira, a 42-year-old legal analyst, were among the first visitors to enter the mausoleum.
“It exceeded all my expectations, it’s a very nice place, well maintained,” said fan Ronaldo Rodrigues.
“I hope a lot of tourists will come and get to know a little bit about Pele’s story, what he meant for Santos, Brazil, and also the whole world,” he said.