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Assistens kirkegård - Living and dead together
Imagine a walled city with cemeteries so overfilled, that caskets are stored above ground. Cannons are being fired to put some motion in the air to mix the stench of death with the smell of gunpowder. During the plague epidemic of 1711 this was Copenhagen. They badly needed a place to bury their dead, and there simply wasn’t room inside the walls.
Assistens cemetery was first built in 1760 as a mass grave for the poor. The extent of which is department A of the cemetery today. The different parishes in Copenhagen had their small allotment of the cemetery. The borders can still be seen today. It’s the small pathways that crisscross department A.
No rich, respectable man or woman would ever nurture the thought of being buried here, so far away from the city, with no paved roads to get there. This all changed after the war chancellor secretary Johan Samuel Augustin asked to be buried here in 1785. More prominent persons followed his example, and the cemetery became more and more modern. Another use of the cemetery was that people started holding picnics here (Logical really, since people starting “visiting the dead”, and needed some nourishment for the journey).
An episode in 1804 directed public concern about the dangers of grave robbing. A story about a young woman, Giertrud Birgitte Bodenhoff, being buried here in 1798 started appearing. She wasn’t really dead, and was awaken buy grave robbers trying to get to her jewels. The robbers murdered her to keep her silent. A commission was established to investigate what to do with the dangers of grave plundering. The gate was replaced with the rather sturdy gates that are still in use today. Likewise a ban on ”eating- and drinking products”, or ”music, or anything resembling amusement” (my own translation) was put in to order. Selling alcohol to people visiting the park was made illegal in 1813. The body of Giertrud Birgitte Bodenof was exhumed in 1953. Although there is no definite proof to say that she was murdered, they did find that the position of the body was strange, and that there is a strong possibility that she actually was murdered.
During the English bombardment of the city, some English soldiers and Captain Thomas Henry Browne used the Gandils family mausoleum as a shelter from the rain and grenades fired from the English ships. Browne left his diary, which was found, and translated, to Danish. A smaller part of the Gandil Mausoleum is now a part of a wall.
The cemetery has been enlarged several times (1803, 1828, 1836, 1847, 1860 and 1862). The park Hans Tavsens Park, next to the cemetery was also a part of the cemetery. It was made so after the great cholera epidemic in 1853.
It has been estimated that there are in excess of 300.000 graves here. And some of the names are quite famous: H.C. Andersen, Denmark’s most famous writer, Author of many fairytales, including the little Mermaid. Martin Andersen Nexø, a Danish writer who most Danish knows about from school. Herman Wilhelm Bissen, one of Denmark’s most famous sculpturer. Giertrud Birgitte Bodenhoff, (see above). Niels Bohr, Denmark’s most famous physicist, who found some of the nuclear physics earliest laws. The nuclear bomb weighed heavily on his conscience after WW2. Richard Bently Boone, a jazz trombonist from the states who married a Danish girl. The French and Belgian soldiers who died as a result of the Spanish flu, while returning home after WW1. The members of the Russian court, who accompanied Tsar Alexander III’s wife Dagmar. Two of the members left memoirs, which have been published. The other 68 members are mostly silent. Jens Juel, who was a famous portrait painter, painting royals, diplomats, officials and many more. Many of his subjects are buried here at Assistens kirkegård. His own grave took a battering in 1872 by unknown hooligans, and it is the restored monument we see today. The actress Karen Sylvia Therese Jønsson, who played in many Danish films before the war. Søren Kierkegaard, arguably Denmark’s most famous philosopher, who although being very religious, was very critical towards the church. Peter Malberg, an actor who participated in many films, both silent films and talkies. Lauritz Melchior, the Opera singer. Carl Otto, a scientist that thought you could look into the soul of a person by studying the scull, and who caused pandemonium when he dug up a body of a criminal to study his skull. Sct. Joseph sisters, who died when the French school was bombarded by allied forces in 1945. The building next to the school was the Gestapo headquarters in Denmark, and the target for the allied bombers. Emilie Sannom, a stuntwoman who specialized in daring air acrobatics. She got very famous, and was called ruler of the air. Sadly she died quite suddenly when her parachute did not open in one of her shows with 8000 spectators. Jens August Schade, a poet, whose monument only show two years: 1903 and 1978. Hans Scherfig, another artist where you will not find the grave by reading on the tombstones. His tombstone doesn’t have any text, and is a tortoise. Peter von Scholten is one of my favorites. He was responsible of liberating the slaves from Sct. Croix, with the words “Now you are free! You are hereby emancipated”. Georges Ulmer, the showbiz man. Johannes Wiedewelt, an artist who was very productive during the late 1700s, and has done some of the monuments here at Assistens kirkegård. H.C. Ørsted, a physicist, chemist and pharmacist, who founded many of the scientific institutions in Denmark such as the Danish meteorological institute and the patent office. The discovery of aluminum and electromagnetism are two of his contributions to science. Ørstedsparken in Copenhagen is named after him. Natasja Saad, better known as Little T, was a Danish rapper and actress, who was the first woman to win a horserace in Sudan. The author Martin A. Hansen wrote about the cemetery: “If Nørrebro (this part of Copenhagen) could count its living, it would be the center of the country’s spirit”
The future of the cemetery – a quarter will be transformed into a park within 2020, although this has been contested by the local population, who wants the cemetery to remain as it is.
Although it was first thought of as burial ground for the poor. The cemetery has been given several names to contradict that. Names like the golden age cemetery, the cemetery for the rich cemetery of the famous, the Danish Pères Lachaise. The official name simply means the extra cemetery
Since 1920 a small event is held every 11. November at the French soldiers graves in memory of the armistice 11. November 1918.
The opening times are October-Marts 07-19, April-September 07-22. Guided tours with different themes are available from Kulturcenteret. There is a general guided tour each Sunday 14-15:30 from Marts to October at a cost of 50 DKK for people above 12 years (in2013)
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Assistens Kirkegaard was created in 1760 outside the boundaries of Copenhagen as they then existed to relieve pressure on the graveyards inside the city walls. It became popular in the 19th century, and several notable figures are buried here, such as the philospher Søren Kierkegaard and of course, Hans Christian Andersen.
It is a popular place for Copenhageners to come on a sunny day to sit and relax.
- Budget Travel
For a walk
I know the famous filosopher Kirkkegaard came here very often just for a walk and think ... But I cam here in a very windy day and I did not take any picture. It is a very nice place like a huge garden. Hans Christian Andersen is buried here.
Pick nick with dead
At this Copenhagen cemetery there are a lot of famous Danish people berried. Among this there is really tree that stand out in each being world famous for there work that have a huge impact on the world of today. In historical order the poet Hans Christian Andersen 1805-1875. The philosopher Søren Aabye Kierkegaard 1813-1855 and the mathematicians and atom physicist Niels Henrik David Bohr 1885-1962. At the entrees there are maps to the graves of the famous people
Which of them that have had the greatest impact on you life you can wonder about as you enjoy a pick nick here which might seem a bit bizarre to some but a very common phenomenon as the cemetery poses many empty spots between the graves and is one of the few green areas on Nørrebro.
The burial of Søren Kierkegaard was something in it self. As his anti-ecclesiastical viewpoints was the focus of the Danish cultural debate at the time. Thousand of people was taking part in his burial that was taking part in the main cathedral Vor Frue Kirke - Church of Our Lady. Where his brother, who had become a bishop that Søren didn’t want to see at his dead bed, was speaking over his coffin. At the cemetery when he was about to be put into the grave his sister son a doctor Henrik Lund protested that the church had made it a church burial that Søren opposed so much against. And it ended in lawsuit where Lund got a fine for speaking at the graveyard without a ordination.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard has been ascribed by some as the man who ended Christianity in Denmark.
BTW: Kierkegaard is Danish for Cemetery. The design and words on his grave was chosen by Søren himself.
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
- National/State Park
Denmark's Pere Lachaise Cemetary
In the middle of one of Copenhagen's city centre working class areas, Nørrebro, you will find the cemetary where "everyone" is buried. But this is more than a cemetary - it is also a park since the area is not spoilt with green areas. Originally, the cemetary was on its own, way outside the city gates and along the main road north, but as the city grew, it incorporated the cemetary. Today therefore, most of it is holy ground but some parts are still left for sunbathers and picnics. Where there is a border, notes have been put up to ask you to respect the dead.
If you are not interested in sunbathing but come here for the cemetary itself, you will not be disappointed. Not that Copenhagen can rustle up as many famous people as Paris, but you can come here to pay respect to a few still. The cemetary is divided into sections but the graves are not numbered, only the sections have letters. You need to go to one of the signs set up near entrances to find who lies in what section as only H.C. Andersen's grave is well signposted. It is also fairly easy to find the philosopher Kirkegaard and Niels Bohr, whereas I had to ask the caretakers for the reason for my own pilgrimage: Ben Webster. I found him along with several Danish jazz musicians.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Assistens kirkegaard( assistens cemetary)
lots of young people go to this place in the summer be to together, study or just relax.
Might sound strange they go to a cemetary but its a very nice calm place , like a little oasis in the city.
Some of the great danish authors are burried here for instance Soren Kierkegaard, the danish philosopher...
This place is still in use, so be respectfull.
It's the burrialground of some of the danes most known people. People like the physisist Niels Bohr and the author of fairytail Hans Christian Andersen.
It is also a park. People come here for a nice stroll.
Get someone to walk with you that knows the story behind some of the danish people burried here, and you will have a field day in history.
cemetery or park?
Cemeteries in Denmark are beautiful. This cemetery in particular is interesting because of those that are buried here.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
I like this place. It's quite and calm, despite the fact that it's close to the crowded Norrebrogade.
This cemetery it’s not only a...
This cemetery it’s not only a cemetery, it’s a very big park where you can take for a walk and rest like some Danishes.
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