Memorable yellow walls surround Copenhagen’s most famous cemetery, Assistens Kirkegård. Originally created to relieve the crowded graveyards inside the walled city, it is located in open countryside outside the city’s northern gate. The cemetery was founded in 1760, in an area previously designated for tobacco growing, as a place in which the city’s poorer inhabitants could enjoy a decent Christian burial.
In 1785 an affluent citizen, astronomic writer and First Secretary of the War Chancellery Johan Samuel Augustin, made specific requests to be buried at the cemetery. He was soon followed by other leading figures from the elite and the burial ground began to become the final resting place of choice for Copenhagen’s wealthier citizens.
Notables such as Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard and Niels Bohr are buried here, just to name a few. Many consider a walk through the cemetery as a walking tour of Danish cultural history.
In 1806 the cemetery was extended north along Nørrebrogade until Jagtvej, and later followed several extensions in 1828, 1853 and 1861. Among these extensions were sections with Catholic and Russian Orthodox graves.
The cemetery aquired a romantic look with large, rare trees and was divided by a continuous avenue of poplars. Almost all sides of the cemetery are surrounded by a wall.
During the 19th century visits to the cemetery with picnic baskets and tea became a popular activity among the locals. Today the cemetery is still serving its original purpose as a burial ground but is also a popular tourist attraction, as well as the largest and most important greenspace in the inner part of the Nørrebro district.
This brief video by Erik Fischer gives an idea of the simple beauty of this historic, old graveyard in Copenhagen Denmark: