Assistens Cemetery: Kierkegaard and H. C. Andersen are buried here
When Copenhagen ran out of room for graves, Assistens Cemetery was established on the other side of the city’s walls. Since then, it has evolved into a historical and cultural site.
Today, the districts on the other side of the lakes (where the walls once stood) are some of the most densely populated areas in Copenhagen. But this was not always the case. Most of the buildings are from the second half of the 1800s, and before that time these areas were open grazing fields for livestock.
Many larger cities during this era lacked room for gravesites, it was quite normal to establish so-called “assistance” cemeteries outside the city walls. Copenhagen was one of these cities. In connection with the urban renewal plans for Frederiksstaden in the 1750s, a decision was made to build a large assistance cemetery outside the city.
Following from this decision, Assistens Cemetery was established in 1760. The original cemetery corresponds to Section A of the present Assistens Cemetery. Unlike many of Copenhagen’s other cemeteries, which succumbed over time to new building projects, Assistens Cemetery gradually grew larger. In 1806, the cemetery was expanded to the north along Nørrebrogade up to Jagtvej, and subsequent expansions followed in 1828, 1853 and 1861, including the establishment of Catholic and Russian Orthodox gravesites.
The cemetery is in the Romantic style with large, rare trees, and is divided lengthwise by a long parkway lined with poplars. A wall wraps around almost the entire cemetery.
Over time, the cemetery has become the resting place for many of Denmark’s most renowned figures, including Søren Kierkegaard, Hans Christian Andersen and Niels Bohr. It is also home to many fine gravestones and monuments, of which 1,800 are listed as cultural heritage sites to be preserved. A walk through the cemetery is thus a walk through Danish cultural history.
The history and culture of the cemetery is presented and disseminated by Assistens Cultural Center, located in the cemetery’s chapel.