A HOLY LAND EXPERIENCE

 

Tourists take photographs in front of three crucifixesImage copyrightERICA CANEPA

In the centre of Buenos Aires, there is a theme park named Tierra Santa (Holy Land) that claims to be the first religious theme park in the world.

Tierra Santa attempts to replicate the streets of Jerusalem during Jesus’ time.

Visitors walk around the narrow streets that are full of plastic palm trees, statues and actors recreating crucial scenes from Jesus’ life.

A woman sweeps the floorImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
A statue showing Roman soldiers putting the crown of thorns on JesusImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
An audience sit in an amphitheatreImage copyrightERICA CANEPA

Long queues of families, tourists and young couples stand at the entrance.

Many of them are come from all over Argentina, but it is not uncommon to spot foreigners.

The park is almost a pilgrimage site for some visitors, with its unique mix of religious reverence and kitschy entertainment.

A man takes a selfie outside a Roman style buildingImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
Tourists browse for cardsImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
Jesus rises from a mountainImage copyrightERICA CANEPA

The main attraction of the amusement park is a 60ft (18m) high mechanical statue of Jesus that rises up once an hour from a plaster replica of the Golgotha mountaintop.

The event is accompanied by a loud chorus from Handel’s Messiah.

When the giant Jesus has completed his ascent, he swivels, closes his eyes and rotates the palms of his hands, provoking great emotion in the visitors at the bottom of the mountain.

Tourists watch Jesus riseImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
A basket of holy water fontsImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
A member of staff selling snacksImage copyrightERICA CANEPA

The staff of the park are all dressed in costume inspired by Jesus’ era.

Visitors can take pictures next to security guards dressed as ancient Romans or buy a waffle from a Middle Eastern inspired cafe.

The only reminders of modern life come from above: the park is situated right next to Jorge Newbery Airport, and a plane flies over the plastic palm trees every few minutes.

A woman looks at a Roman guardImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
A statue of Jesus turning bread into wineImage copyrightERICA CANEPA
An overview of the theme parkImage copyrightERICA CANEPA

All photographs by Erica Canepa.

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