On a sunny spring day, Bispebjerg Cemetery makes for a special excursion. Guests come from near and far to take photos of one of the garden’s main attractions: the avenue of Japanese cherry trees that, when in bloom, form a spectacular long, pink tunnel.
It might seem strange to call a cemetery romantic, but at Bispebjerg it’s hard not to. The paths here are beautiful.
And, like all Danish cemeteries, it makes a valuable contribution to the world’s horticulture, as each grave has its own small, carefully tended garden. In Denmark, these are not spooky places. Death can be seen as beautiful; cemeteries are regarded as the land of the dead.
Bispebjerg Cemetery’s own map not only marks the locations of the most important graves, but also where to find the most remarkable trees and avenues.
The iconic poplar avenue is just as famous as the avenue of cherry trees. It leads all the way from Grundtvig Church to Utterslev Bog. Unfortunately, the 90-year-old trees are diseased and will be felled in autumn 2014. Although Lombardy poplars grow quickly, it will be 10 to 15 years before the avenue looks like its old self again.
When the cemetery opened in the early 1900s, it was based on a novel idea: to burn the dead instead of burying them. As a result, the graves here frequently house urns, often in beautiful, communal facilities.
In the columbarium, urns stand on shelves. There are also plots for faiths other than Christian, including a special Buddhist section.
Photo: Scanpix/ Christian Lindgren
DATA & LINKSBispebjerg Kirkegård
2400 Copenhagen NV
Tel: (+45) 82 33 46 00
- Day trips
- Bike rides
- Cultural history
- During the summer months, regular guided tours are held. When visiting, please remember that you are in a cemetery, where relatives have a right to peace and space for contemplation. For groups: 07:00–19:00 in the winter season, 07:00–22:00 April to September.
- Bispebjerg Cemetery was built in 1903 and has been expanded several times. One of Copenhagen’s most recent cemeteries, it was built to meet the need for more burial grounds resulting from the tremendous growth of the city in the latter half of the 19th century.
- The gardens were designed by head city gardener Edvard Glæsel. One of the country’s most important landscape architects, Glæsel also designed the Western Cemetery, the gardens at Copenhagen City Hall, the Royal Library Gardens and Copenhagen Common, in addition to a number of private gardens for Danish castles and manor houses.
- Famous people buried at Bispebjerg Cemetery include author Johannes V. Jensen and astromechanic Jens Olsen, the man behind ‘Jens Olsen’s World Clock’ at City Hall.
- One of the original chapels and crematoria reopened as ‘the Dance Chapel’ in 2012. After a major renovation, it is now a vibrant cultural centre for dance in Copenhagen, and one of Northern Europe's largest dance theatres.
- Many special trees, types of vegetation, insects and songbirds.
- Bats live in the trees and come out at night to hunt insects.
- The main paths are suitable for wheelchair users.
- None, but visitors are welcome to enjoy a packed lunch in peace and quiet.