Holmen Cemetery

Unlike the army cemetery on the other side of Dag Hammerskjölds Allé, which has been described as a ‘charming mess’, there’s plenty of order in the navy’s counterpart, Holmen Cemetery. There are carefully laid-out paths, a long, straight avenue of lime trees and trimmed low beech hedges. But it wasn’t always like that.

Holmen’s Cemetery is Copenhagen’s oldest cemetery, which is still in use. It was founded in 1660 when it started to pinch on cemeteries within the city walls.

At first it was a cemetery for the Navy ratings and destitute sailors and was named ship graveyard where it was not allowed to erect memorials in the form of gravestones or wooden cross, why they broke more affluent naval officers not like to be buried here. Another reason was that grazing cattle from the surrounding fields to penetrate the cemetery and stir up the graves.

In the late 1700s, however, set matters instead. There was dug a moat around the cemetery and erected a hvidtjørnehæk that could keep the cattle out. The other was the tight schedule of the layout of the cemetery, which eventually gave permission for memorials.

Diagonally through the cemetery was built a long beautiful poplar avenue, in accordance with the place of origin was called Admiral passage. This could ligtogene stroll from the entrance up to the tomb. From this main passage where the poplars since been replaced by tall lime trees runs in a half star three straight paths.

The current monumental wooden chapel originated in 1902 and over time it has met much criticism from aesthetic feinschmekere because it modeled has a Norwegian stave church.

Today Holmen’s Cemetery one of the city’s peaceful oases where parents strolling with prams and pushchairs and settle down on the benches, and where many well-known artists from the past two centuries are buried.

Photo: Søren Rud

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Holmens Kirkegård
(Holmen Cemetery)
Øster Farimagsgade 46
2100 Copenhagen Ø
Tel. (+45) 2222 7180

  • History
  • Walks
  • Peace, tranquility and reflection
  • In 1794, former church minister Laurids Smith was the first person to be allowed a stone monument. As a compromise, it was located just outside the cemetery fence, where the main entrance is located today. The minister was known for his love of animals, so a staute of a dog rests at the foot of the memorial, which has been renewed several times by a local animal welfare society.

  • Today a small group of feral cats, neutered and released by the cat charity Kattens Værn, lives in the cemetery. Local animal guardians look after them.
  • The cemetery has several major monuments, including one for around 500 sailors who perished during the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

  • Among the VIPs in the cemetery are the Golden Age painter Otto Bache, actress Johanne Luise Heiberg, author Christian Winther, composer Hans Lumbye, writer Emma Gad, dancer and choreographer Harald Lander, actor Kjeld Petersen, journalist Gunnar ‘Nu’ Hansen and the Social Democratic politician Svend Auken.
  • Lime beech and traditional graveyard plants. Crocuses and butterfly bushes.
  • Wheelchair-friendly.
  • There are several cafés just outside the cemetery.
1 km

Get directions here