Bispebjerg Cemetery

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

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