Vestre Cemetery

Vestre Cemetery (Danish: Vestre Kirkegård) is located in a large park setting in the Kongens Enghave district of Copenhagen, Denmark. With its 54 hectares it is the largest cemetery in Denmark.

Beautifully landscaped, it also serves as an important open space, popular for people to take a stroll, and look at the old graves and monuments.

It is located southwest of the city center, between the Enghave, Sydhavn, Sjælør and Valby train stations on Copenhagen's S-train system, and right next to the historic Carlsberg neighbourhood.

The cemetery is one of five run by Copenhagen municipality. The other cemeteries are Assistens Cemetery, Brønshøj Cemetery, Sundby Cemetery, and Bispebjerg Cemetery.

History

Vestre Kirkegård was opened in 1870 to accommodate an urgent need for adequate burial places for the growing population of Copenhagen. Assistens Cemetery, till then the main cemetery of the city, had long been unable to cope with the increasing number of burials. First a burial place for the poor, Vestre Kirkegaard became the principal burial place during the 1990s.

The setting

The cemetery is noted for its beautiful scenery, offers a maze of dense groves, open lawns, winding paths, hedges, overgrown tombs, monuments, tree-lined avenues, ponds and other garden features. Many graves have distinctive gravestones, sculptures or large mausoleums and are eclectically placed. The cemetery's grounds boast a huge variety of trees with many rare species and is a heaven to birds and small mammals.

The Crossroads Project

The Crossroads Project (Danish: Stjernevejsprojektet) is a garden complex with a pavilion at its centre, designed by Schønher Landskab. It was created in 2003 after Copenhagen Municipality arranged a competition for the regeneration of an area characterized by the abandoned Southern Chapel of the cemetery and elm trees dead from Dutch elm disease. The complex is intended to serve a dual purpose both relating to the locations function as a burial place and as an open space and meeting place in the city, for those seeking piece and silence.

The complex consists of two intersecting axes with the former Southern Chapel in its centre. The chapel was partly demolished, leaving only the central part as an open pavilion-like domed structure. The building is partly over-grown by ivy. The surrounding garden spaces of the two axes, creating a Greek cross, are confined by tall yew hedges and have a grass surface. Embedded in the lawns of the cross arms are narrow, rust coloured paths made of oxidized iron plates, flanked by rows by cherry trees. At the end of each cross arm is a 9 metre tall rust coloured iron arch.

The design of the project is inspired by Bramante's Tempietto in Rome and the baroque gardens of Villa Gori in Siena. The latter is characterized by the garden being contained in the two axes of the garden, instead of the axes being the connecting feature of the surrounding gardens as is normally the case.

Internents

Among the notables interred at the cemetery are political and business leaders, philosophers, artists, and musicians:

  • Carl Aller (1845-1926), publisher, founder of Aller Media
  • Hans Niels Andersen (1852–1937), businessman, founder of East Asiatic Company
  • Herman Bang (1857–1912), writer
  • Vilhelm Buhl (1881–1954), political leader, Social Democrat Prime Minister of Denmark
  • Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen (1863–1945), sculptor
  • Edvard Eriksen (1876–1959), sculptor, most famous for the statue of the Little Mermaid
  • Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864–1916), painter
  • Hans Christian Hansen (1906–1960), political leader, Social Democrat Prime Minister
  • Hans Hedtoft (1903–1955), political leader, Social Democrat
  • Per Hækkerup (1915–1979), political leader, Social Democrat
  • August Jerndorff (1946–1906), painter
  • Thad Jones (1923–1986), American jazz trumpeter
  • Viggo Kampmann (1910–1975), political leader, Social Democrat Prime Minister
  • Asta Nielsen (1881–1972), film actress
  • Carl Nielsen (1865–1931), composer
  • Jens Otto Krag (1914–1978), political leader, Social Democrat Prime Minister
  • Julius Petersen (1839–1910), mathematician
  • Knud Rasmussen (1879–1933), polar explorer and anthropologist
  • Thorvald Stauning (1873–1942), political leader, first Social Democrat Prime Minister
  • Hermann Baagøe Storck (1839–1922), architect and heraldic artist
  • Hjalmar Söderberg (1869–1941), Swedish author
  • Laurits Tuxen (1853–1927), sculptor, painter
  • Liva Weel (1897–1952), singer, actress
  • Kristian Zahrtmann (1843–1917), painter

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