Assistens Cemetery (Copenhagen)

Assistens Cemetery (Copenhagen)
Assistens Cemetery
Assistens Kirkegård 1.jpg
Year established 1760
Country Denmark
Location Nørrebro, Copenhagen
Size 25 hectares

Assistens Cemetery (Danish: Assistens Kirkegård) in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the burial site of a large number of Danish notables as well as an important greenspace in the Nørrebro district. Inaugurated in 1760, it was originally a burial site for the poor laid out to relieve the crowded graveyards inside the walled city, but during the Golden Age in the first half of the 19th century it became mondain and many leading figures of the epoch, such as Hans Christian Andersen, Søren Kierkegaard, Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, and Christen Købke are all buried on the premises. Late in the century, as Assistens Cemetery had itself become crowded, a number of new cemeteries were established around Copenhagen, including Vestre Cemetery, but up through the 20th century it has continued to attract notables. Among the latter are the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr and a number of American jazz musicians who settled in Copenhagen during the 50s and 60s, including Ben Webster and Kenny Drew.

An Assistens Cemetery is originally a generic term in Danish, used to refer to cemeteries which were laid out to assist existing burial sites, usually those located in urban settings in connection with churches, and therefore a number of cemeteries by the same name are found around Denmark.

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




In Medieval times intramural interment was the rule although outdoor graveyards gradually became more common. In 1666 the Naval Holmens Cemetery was moved from its original location at Church of Holmen to a site outside the Eastern City Gate as the first burial facility to be located outside the city.[1]

An outbreak of plague in 1711 which killed an estimated 23,000 citizens put the existing burial sites under so much pressure that up to five coffins were sometimes buried on top of each other. This led to the establishment of five new cemeteries in the periphery of the city, but just inside the city walls, while the military Garnisons Cemetery was relocated to a site next to that of Holmens Cemetery.

Establishment of the new cemetery

In the 1750s the situation deteriorated even further and in a letter of 2 May 1757 the City Council proposed to the Chancellery that a large new cemetery be built for the city's parishes outside the city walls. After some negotiations it was decided to place it outside the Northern City Gate and on 26 May 1757 the new facility was founded by Royal charter. The new cemetery was inaugurated on 6 November 1760. It was enclosed by a wall built by Philip de Lange.[1]

Originally the cemetery was intended as a burial ground for paupers. In 1785 an affluent citizen, astronomic writer and First Secretary of the War Chancellery Johan Samuel Augustin, made specific requests to be interred at the cemetery, in his codicil stating that "Mein Begräbnis soll auf dem Armen-Kirchhofe vor dem Norderthor seyn, wesfalls ich sehon mit Mr. Simon, der dort Gräber ist, gesprochen habe".[1] He was soon followed by other leading figures from the elite and the cemetery soon developed into the most mondain burial ground of the city.

A popular excursion spot

Inside the cemetery

Around that time, excursions to the cemetery with picnic baskets and tea became a popular activity among common citizens of Copenhagen. In his account of a visit to Copenhagen in 1827, the Swedish poet Karl August Nicander fondly remembers Assistens Cemetery:[1]

In order to enjoy another softer, quieter celebration, I walked out one evening through Nørre Port (the North Gate) to the so-called Assistens Cemetery. It is certainly one of the most beautiful graveyards in Europe. Leafy trees, dark paths, bright open flowery expanses, temples shaded by poplars, marble tombs overhung by weeping willows, and urns or crosses wrapped in swathes of roses, fragrance and bird song, all transform this place of death into a little paradise.[2]

The excursions sometimes evolved into rowdy gatherings and legislation was passed to prevent this. A commission established in 1805 issued instructions which prohibited the consumption of food or drink as well as music or any other kind of cheerful behaviour in the cemetery. The gravediggers, who lived on the premises, were to enforce these restrictions but they seem to have taken their duties lightly. Legislation from 1813 prohibited them to sell alcohol to visitors to the cemetery. Despite all these efforts, the desired peace and quiet was a long time in coming. For particularly grand funerals, crowds of spectators would gather, and people would festoon the cemetery walls to get a better view. To reduce numbers of visitors, there was talk of introducing admission fees, but this was never carried out.[3]

Assistens Cemetery today

Reading in the grass
The gate at Jagtvej

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.

It is divided into sections. The oldest part is Section A and features the graves of Søren Kierkegaard and the painter Chresten Købke among others. Section D is dedicated to Catholic Reformed graves as well as Russian graves. Section E is the section which originally served under Church of Our Lady.[1]

Herman Stilling Museum

In 2003 an old horse stable in a corner of Assistens Cemetery was converted into a small museum dedicated to writer and artist Herman Stilling, a native to the Nørrebro area and mainly known for painting trolls. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum also contains an exhibition space for special exhibitions, a picture workshop for children and young people, and a café.[4]

Notable interments

  • Kjeld Abell
  • Nicolai Abildgaard
  • Peter Christian Abildgaard
  • Daniel Adzer
  • Svend Aggerholm
  • Christian Aigens
  • Peter Adler Alberti
  • Sophie Alberti
  • H.C. Andersen (buried at the Collin family grave, but the stone was moved to another graveyard in 1914, Frederiksberg ældre kirkegård)
  • Carl Christopher Georg Andræ
  • Christian Arntzen
  • Johan Samuel Augustin
  • Oluf Lundt Bang
  • Peter Georg Bang
  • Christian Bastholm
  • Christian Bauditz
  • Hans Heinrich Baumgarten
  • Christian Frederik Beck
  • Andreas Peter Berggreen
  • Dorte-Maria Bjarnov
  • Claes Birch
  • H.W. Bissen
  • Louis Bobé
  • Allan Bock
  • Andreas Bodenhoff
  • Giertrud Birgitte Bodenhoff
  • Niels Bohr, Harald Bohr og
    Christian Bohr
  • Robert Bojesen
  • Richard Bently Boone
  • Bonaparte Borgen
  • Vilhelm August Borgen
  • André Bork
  • Frederik Christian Bornemann
  • Mathias Hastrup Bornemann
  • Johan Henrich Brandemann
  • Hans Brøchner
  • Emil Bähncke
  • Wilhelm Bähncke
  • Ludvig Bødtcher
  • P.C. Bønecke
  • Etta Cameron
  • Karen Caspersen
  • Peter Atke Castberg
  • John Christensen
  • Villads Christensen
  • Ernst Christiansen
  • Andreas Clemmensen
  • Mogens Clemmensen
  • Christoph Cloëtta
  • Christian Colbiørnsen
  • Johan Christian Severin Danielsen
  • Ferdinand Didrichsen
  • Karen Dissing
  • Frederik Drejer
  • Kenny Drew
  • Otto Steen Due
  • William Frederik Duntzfelt
  • C.W. Eckersberg
  • Erling Eckersberg
  • Jens Eckersberg
  • Jakob Ejersbo
  • Peter Elfelt
  • Sigurd Elkjær
  • Johannes Erwig
  • Otto Evens
  • Peter Faber (Danish telegraph specialist)
  • Peter Didrik Weinreich Fischer
  • Johan Georg Forchhammer
  • Hermann Ernst Freund
  • Astrid Friis
  • Johannes Frederik Frølich
  • G.E.C. Gad
  • Ludvig Gade
  • Vincenzo Galeotti
  • Jens Giødwad
  • Emanuel Gregers
  • Ken Gudman
  • Søren Gyldendal
  • Hugo Gyldmark
  • Inger-Lise Gaarde
  • P.C. Hagemann
  • Andreas Hallander
  • Søren Hallar
  • Poul Hanmann
  • Christian Hansen
  • Dagmar Hansen
  • Frantz Johannes Hansen
  • Niels Hansen[disambiguation needed ]
  • Rudolph Hansen
  • Rasmus Harboe
  • C.F. Harsdorff
  • Otto Haslund
  • Sven Hauptmann
  • Mathilde Malling Hauschultz
  • Anker Heegaard
  • Henry Heerup
  • Betty Hennings
  • Henrik Hennings
  • Christian Severin Henrichsen
  • Christian Ludvig August Herforth
  • Johan Daniel Herholdt
  • Henrik Hertz
  • Christian Frederik Hetsch
  • Georg Hilker
  • N.P. Hillebrandt
  • Tage Hind
  • Carl Otto
  • Ulrich Peter Overby
  • Holger Simon Paulli
  • Andreas Paulsen
  • Gustav Pedersen
  • Vilhelm Pedersen
  • Anna Petersen
  • Knud Arne Petersen
  • Christian Ulrik Adolph Plesner
  • Johan Martin Quist
  • C.C. Rafn
  • Rasmus Rask
  • Lauritz Rasmussen
  • E. Rasmussen Eilersen
  • Louise Ravn-Hansen
  • C.E. Reich
  • Ebbe Kløvedal Reich
  • C.A. Reitzel
  • Heinrich Anna Reventlow-Criminil
  • Amdi Riis
  • Johan Christian Riise
  • Svend Rindom
  • Frederik Rohde
  • Emmery Rondahl
  • C.N. Rosenkilde
  • J.F. Rosenstand
  • Carl Eduard Rotwitt
  • Natasja Saad
  • Emilie Sannom
  • Ragnhild Sannom
  • Jens August Schade
  • Virtus Schade
  • Anna Margrethe Schall
  • Claus Schall
  • Henrik Scharling
  • Hans Scherfig
  • Peter Schiønning
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Christian von Schmettau
  • Marinus Schneider
  • Peter von Scholten
  • Otto Schondel
  • Julius Schovelin
  • Georg Ludvig von der Schulenburg
  • Frans Schwartz
  • Johan Adam Schwartz
  • Johan Georg Schwartz
  • Emmy Schønfeld
  • Giuseppe Siboni
  • Joakim Skovgaard
  • P.C. Skovgaard
  • Caspar Wilhelm Smith
  • Per Sonne
  • Petrine Sonne
  • Andreas Schack Steenberg
  • Japetus Steenstrup
  • Johannes Steenstrup
  • Ernst Vilhelm Stibolt
  • Johanne Stockmarr
  • Edvard Storm
  • Michael Strunge
  • Holger Strøm
  • Theodor Stuckenberg
  • Viggo Stuckenberg
  • Christian Sørensen
  • Jazz-Kay Sørensen
  • Søren Sørensen
  • Theodor Sørensen
  • Thorvald Sørensen
  • C.A.F. Thomsen
  • Emma Thomsen
  • Magdalene Thoresen
  • Jens Jørgen Thorsen
  • Johan Clemens Tode
  • Vilhelm Topsøe
  • Dan Turèll
  • Vilhelm Tvede
  • August Tørsleff
  • Nils Ufer
  • Georg Ulmer
  • Georges Ulmer
  • Moritz Unna
  • Jens Vahl
  • Martin Vahl (1749-1804)
  • Martin Vahl (1869-1946)
  • Mogens Vantore
  • Frederik Vermehren
  • Martha Værn
  • Morten Værn
  • Gregers Wad
  • Eugen Warming
  • Jens Warming
  • Ben Webster
  • Carl Weitemeyer
  • Clemens Weller
  • Caspar Wessel
  • Edvard Westerberg
  • Johannes Wiedewelt
  • Christian Peder Wienberg
  • Anton Wilhelm Wiehe
  • Michael Wiehe
  • Carl Winsløw
  • Otto F. Zeltner
  • G.C. Zinck
  • H.O.C. Zinck
  • Josephine Zinck
  • Ludvig Zinck
  • Marie Zinck
  • Otto Zinck
  • H.C. Ørsted

See also

  • Parks and open spaces in Copenhagen


  1. ^ a b c d e "Assistens Kirkegård". Selskabet for Københavns Historie. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  2. ^ Translation from Danish by Wikipedia editor Ipigott.
  3. ^ "10. Assistens Kirkegaard". Golden Days. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  4. ^ "Herman Stilling Museum". Realdania. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 

External links

Coordinates: 55°41′28″N 12°32′58″E / 55.69111°N 12.54944°E / 55.69111; 12.54944

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