The Mausoleum: Tomb of the Gods


Knoche's Mausoleum

In 1860 pestilence and cholera took over the city of La Guaira, taking the lives of Knoche’s wife and older son. Then, the doctor arranged for the construction of the funerary memorial, a chapel for his son and a second monument where the main members of the family would be preserved. The major job was entrusted to the stonemasons who worked in his house, led by master Santos Monteverde, who took over the inner chapel, taking him a year to build the Mausoleum which had an undergroung crypt, the upper tower, build with grey quarry stone and made in neoclassic style with neo-gothic details magnificently crafted, thinking of exits and space tunnels as well. According to the same legend, when Santos showed Knoche the finished Mausoleum, the latter walked in silence through it and at the end telling the author: “You know what? I like it very much”.

The site where Knoche’s Mausoleum was built is a massive rock which, in the old days, was occupied by an ancient indian ceremonial cemetery which was set as a consequence of the great death toll caused by the cholera morbus epidemic during colonial times which deemed insufficient the main La Guaira burial grounds. Nevertheless, the new Mausoleum turned into the resting place of the mummified bodies of Knoche’s family.

By 1901, the Mausoleum was closed due to the doctor’s death. The cemetery was definitively closed in 1926. After the death of Amelia Weissmann, who at first refused to be mummified changing her mind on the last day of her life and injecting the embalming fluid herself secretly prepared two decades ago by the german doctor. In the following decades, the Mausoleum was rampaged by looters turning it into what was named the damned graveyard, some mummies were destroyed, others burned, buried or sold, only the ones which belonged to José Pérez, the crypt’s watchman, and to Tomás Lander, were safeguarded upon request of a team of historians and citizens.

The Mausoleum, Knoche’s mystical treasure storage, was renamed as Knoche’s Park and is currently an invaluable touristic site.

The digital reconstruction of the Mausoleum, the addition of the cells and of the secret lobby were designed for the story following an idea thought by Olya Liubimova, producer and architect, who suggested that the structure of the mausoleum could shelter secret chambers because of its shape and size.

The concept of the architectural project of Knoche’s Mausoleum for the scenography is based on the original structure of the Mausoleum on one side, and on the other, it contains created and added sections and areas which follow the story and the script of the movie. The Mausoleum consists of three parts: the main tower, where six cemented sarcofaghi are located, with a small hall for the visitors and the basement with two secret levels, which are underground and which can’t be seen from the outside.

In the first underground level, which can be reached from the main level through a secret stairway (which is hidden behind a stone door, built-in the wall that only Dr. Knoche knows how to open), there is an immense, dark and tenebrous lounge where the tumbs with the bodies of Knoche’s relatives are placed, and where there is also an alcove with the doctor’s armchair. The second underground level is located under the first one. It has a central hallway with cells on both sides, where the guardians are found, with whom Knoche is undergoing experiments. Taking into consideration the structure of the building, the spaces on both underground levels are made of stone columns and vaults, and it is lit with torches.