Holmens Kirkegård – Holmen’s Cemetery

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Holmens Kirkegård (English: Holmen’s Cemetery) is located on Dag Hammerskjölds Allé near the center of Copenhagen, Denmark. The cemetery is located opposite the Garrison Cemetery.

As a cemetery it is not really a park, but it can be enjoyed as a quiet spot in the center of Copenhagen.

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

Initially it was a cemetery for the Navy’s privates and indigent sailors, hence its other name the ship graveyard.

The great plague epidemic in 1711 required further need for cemeteries. Therefore, many plague victims were also buried at Holmen’s Cemetery.

Originally it was not allowed to erect memorials in the form of gravestones or wooden cross and this prevented the more affluent naval officers from being buried here. Another problem was that grazing cattle from the surrounding fields could penetrate to the cemetery and stir up the graves.

In the late 1700s, however, matters improved. A moat was dug around the cemetery and a hedge of hawthorn was erected to keep cattle out. To increase capacity a permission to erect memorials was obtained.

Most of the memorials remain including those for 1800s celebrities like the author Johan Ludvig Heiberg and his wife Johanne Louise Heiberg, the composer H.C. Lumbye, politician Orla Lehmann, and painter Jørgen Sonne.

The Memorial Mound in Holmen Cemetery is dedicated to the fallen soldiers at the “Battle of Copenhagen” in 1801. This battle and bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807 is a grim evidence of the great political conflicts at the time. See the burial mound; it is almost a “living narrative” about the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801.

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 From this main passage, where poplars since been replaced by tall lime trees, runs three straight paths as in a half star.

The current monumental wooden chapel is dating from 1902. Over time it has been met with some criticism because it is modeled after a Norwegian stave church.

Today Holmen’s Cemetery is one of the city’s peaceful oases where parents stroll with their children and settle down on the benches.

In summer, the cemetery resembles a magic forest out of a fairytale. The trees stretch horizontally and vertically. The paths lead one on pitoresque walks through the cemetery.

Just as the summer greens and flowers clothes the churchyard, there is also something magical about the snowy cemetery in the winter!

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