ASSISTENS CEMETERY IN COPENHAGEN

2:39 AM

I rarely see travel bloggers include cemetery visits to their itineraries so I never included a visit to a graveyard in my previous travels to Denmark. I've always been intrigued though because I always see well-manicured plants and flowers in graveyards in church yards. It's so different than the usual community cemeteries that we see in the Philippines. It's like the Danes are the masters of urban planning in the world if I may say so.

My curiosity was piqued last month and so I decided to visit a cemetery on my solo trip to Copenhagen and I chose the Assistens Kirkegård to include in my itinerary.

Just to set the record straight, I am a scaredy-cat and I easily get spooked by ghost stories so my husband almost can't believe what he was hearing when I told him I am going to Norrebro to visit the cemetery alone. I even surprised myself and I was so determined to go and see the graves of some of the famous Danes in history.



I started my Copenhagen exploration from the Norreport Station and I walked towards Frederiksborggade, crossed the Dronning Louises Bro (Bridge), walked the buzzing and colorful Norrebrogade and then turned left to Kapelvej where the main gate was. I recommend entering through this gate if you want to be near the grave of Hans Christian Andersen.

The Kapelvej entryway also leads to the chapel. The chapel now serves as a cultural center. 


The cemetery is divided into different sections mostly by fences. The oldest part of the cemetery being Section A. Based on what I have read, there's a section for kids, the homeless, the soldiers from the First World War, and there's another portion that is being constructed/developed and will be operational and open for internments in 2018.





It is certainly one of the most beautiful graveyards in Europe. Leafy trees, dark paths, bright open flowery expanses, temples shaded by poplars, marble tombs overhung by weeping willows, and urns or crosses wrapped in swathes of roses, fragrance and bird song, all transform this place of death into a little paradise.” -Swedish Poet Karl August Nicander 

I couldn't believe I was inside a big city when I was inside the yard. The place is gorgeous and if not for the tombs scattered all over the area, you would really think that it is a recreational park on its own. I saw people sitting on benches, some sprawled on the grass having picnic or reading a book, some people walking around just like me and I also met a couple from the US who were so friendly we had a little chat near H.C. Andersen's grave. I also saw some families bonding over snacks or walking their dogs and some cycling along the poplar tree avenue.



The Assistens Cemetery is one of the Nørrebro District's most interesting, "peaceful" and relaxing green oasis teeming with lush greenery in summer and beautiful flowers in spring. If I were a permanent Copenhagen resident, I will probably be a regular in the area. It's easy to spend hours just walking aimlessly around while enjoying the little piece of silence that is solely mine. 



There was a particular section of the cemetery that intrigued me. The people buried in the section died in the same year and their last names aren't Danish-sounding. I checked Google and I found out that I was standing near the graves of the French-Belgian soldiers who died in Denmark right after the World War 1. Apparently, all the soldiers buried there died in January 1919 - two months after the war ended. 

The soldiers were prisoners of war of the Germans and they were freed when the war ended. On their way home, many fell sick and some were even injured so they were sent to Copenhagen to rest and recover. Incidentally, there was a Spanish influenza epidemic and because the soldiers were sick and weak they fell ill and succumbed to the epidemic. It wasn't a good idea to transport the bodies more so the travel back home would be long so they were buried in Copenhagen instead. It was so ironic that they survived the battle but never made it alive to reunite with their families. I wonder if the family members were able to visit their graves.








The park/cemetery has other sections that I was not able to see so I am planning another visit when we go back next year. I'm really curious to see the area dedicated to the "people of the streets" or locally known as the gadens folk

This grave gave me the creeps. I was alone in this section of the cemetery when I chanced upon this fresh mound of soil with flowers that were less than a week old or so on top. I walk fast right after I took the photo and went to the Russian graves section.


These graves were once neglected because no one took care of the plots and the area was renovated between 2005-2013. The restoration was sponsored by the Embassy of Russia.




Another photo of the poplar avenue


Japanese anemones have practically dominated these graves. It looks beautiful though.


I spent around three hours inside the Assistens Cemetery and it was all worth it. I'm glad I was able to visit this beautiful graveyard. I could have easily spent another hour or so and have my lunch there but I decided to pass by Jægersborggade and check out some of the interesting shops that are have become internet famous recently (Coffee Collective, Meyers Bageri, Damernes Magasin, Sneakers and Coffee, Keramiker Inge Vincents, among other). The Jægersborggade Alle is just across the Jagtvej gate of the cemetery. If you have a few hours to spare when you travel to Copenhagen, I suggest you check out this alley that offers a variety of shops for shopping and eating. The hip Mikeller Bar is just around the corner too. I will write another blog post about the rest of my solo walking trip to Copenhagen. 










This particular tomb made me tear up. I was overcome with emotion as soon as I saw it. Little Peanut is now an angel in heaven but I am sad for his/her parents who probably anticipated for him/her to be born alive. Rest in peace Little Peanut!




ADDRESS / VICINITY MAP

Assistens Kirkegård
Kapelvej 2
København N



Would I recommend including a graveyard in your itinerary? Yes, I would and in fact, I plan to go back again next year so I could walk around the areas that I missed on my first visit.  I'll probably rent a bike and take it with me inside the cemetery when I go back so I could cover more of the 20-hectare area.

I've also listed down the names of the cemeteries that I plan to visit in Europe in the future. We can probably call this my CEMETERY BUCKET LIST:

1. Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris, France
2. Highgate Cemetery in London, United Kingdom
3. Kaisergruft in Vienna, Austria
4. Hólavallagarōr Cemetery in Reykjavik, Iceland
5. Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic
6. Merry Cemetery in Maramure County, Romania
7. Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, United States of America
8. Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland (reported to be haunted)
9. American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-mere, France (featured in Saving Private Ryan)
10. Sudfriedhof in Leipzeg, Germany

Of course, I have to admit that the number one reason why I have been enamored to visiting cemeteries is that I don't need to queue up to get in. That's right! Visiting a cemetery is the perfect example of a free and easy not to mention relaxing itinerary. Everyone's welcome! Leave your fear and any reservations outside the cemetery walls.


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