The ashes of Gabriel García Márquez were being taken Monday to Mexico City's majestic Palace of Fine Arts, where thousands of admiring readers were expected to pay tribute to the Colombian Nobel laureate considered the greatest Spanish-language writer in three centuries.

The presidents of Mexico and Colombia were expected at the late-afternoon ceremony four days after the death of the 87-year-old author. García Márquez's birthplace, the town of Aracataca on Colombia's Caribbean coast, was planning a symbolic funeral. Colombia also planned a marathon reading this week of García Márquez's work, "No One Writes to the Colonel."

Marquez lived in Mexico for decades and wrote some of his best-known works here, included the renowned "100 Years of Solitude."

Mexican officials said García Márquez's ashes will be present, and some of the author's favorite classical music will be performed, for the ceremony led by presidents Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico and Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia.

In Aracataca, residents planned to walk from García Márquez's childhood home, now a museum dedicated to his life and work, to the church in the center of town, then to the town cemetery and back to the museum.

Jorge Polo Camargo, who was organizing the ceremony in Colombia, said mourners would carry hundreds of yellow paper butterflies, echoing one of the best known images from "100 Years of Solitude."

Family members have not yet announced what they plan to do with his ashes. Colombia has said it would like at least some of the ashes to go to his homeland.

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