Yesterday I brought you to the church. Today I have decided to show you the extension – the cemetery. I once went on an excursion around a cemetery with an anthropologist who told me that people tend to bury their dead in surroundings, which are similar to those in which they live. In Denmark this is so true. We live in separate houses surrounded by high hedges. This leads to cemetery plots looking like this:
A nice little village with individual properties located around the master building. Each property has a house (a stone) and a surrounding garden. The garden is, of course, well tended. This is the norm.
Across the road from where I’m staying while in Copenhagen, we have a very special cemetery. When I say special I mean it in a lot of ways. The people buried there are special, the way they are buried is different to the norm and we use this cemetery in a very special way. Let me show you.
At the entrance to Assistens Kirkegård, as it is called, you find a map. You also find a price list explaining what it will cost you to be hosted on the premises. In case you feel special and want to join the others. The sign reads “The Cemetery offers:”
The map comes with a list of the special people buried here. Niels Bohr and HC Ørsted, two of our Nobel Laureates, can be found in section Q and E respectively. In section A, plot number 738 we find this famous Dane and his extended family
In section P and H we find famous Danish Writers
Martin Andersen Nexø and Hans Christian Andersen.
For the music lovers, we have different sections. In the Jazz section I found these two fellows, which I took a moment to honour. Both contributed so much to my place of birth Ben Webster and Pat Boone.
The cemetery is huge like a park. There are central roads which run through, where people walk and bike; it is a short cut through this part of the city.
Because the cemetery is like a park, it is also used as a park. This is where it becomes particularly special in my opinion. In between the graves marking our history, people gather in the sun. This year it seemed to be the place to meet if you are male and sporting the latest accessory: a pram (if you click on the picture and view it in a larger form, you will see that those are indeed three men meeting with prams).
Most common in the cemetery are people meeting for a picnic or those who were in the mood for a snooze.
Yesterday was the first day of real sunshine since I have arrived and the cemetery was packed. I met a few foreigners asking for direction to HC Andersen and asked them what they thought of our use of the cemetery. They found it hard to put words to the spectacle. In one way it seemed morbid. On the other hand, why not? It is a beautiful place in the middle of a large city. Overall we agreed that it is an amazing way to honour our dead and keep them alive in present time: “Hey do you wanna catch up? The sun is out, let’s meet at Søren Kierkegaard.”