In most people’s minds, cemeteries and beauty do not seem to go together. Instead, cemeteries are seen as tragic and dark places that scare little kids with wild imaginations and are the source of countless ghost stories. However, in Germany, cemeteries are often seen as places of beauty with gorgeous displays of flowers and vegetation mixed with beautifully crafted sculptures. In fact, one of Germany’s leading funeral service and burial comparison shopping sites, Bestattungen.de, ranks the most beautiful cemeteries every year, and the 2012 winner is Hamburg’s Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
Opened in 1877, Ohlsdorf Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 1.4 million people spread across an area equivalent to the size of 555 soccer fields. It is the largest non-military cemetery in the world is also a park area and tourist attraction that sees about 2 million visitors each year.
Situated among the beautiful landscapes are various memorials for the victims of Nazism. Six memorial sites have been erected since the end of World War II, including the “Monument for the Victims of Nazi Persecution”, a memorial grove for the Hamburg Resistance fighters, and a monument for the victims of the Hamburg firestorm.
Hamburg is proud of their cemetery culture, and has even opened a museum at Ohlsdorf Cemetery to raise awareness and promote the historic and contemporary funeral culture the cemetery represents. Visiting a cemetery may not be on tourist’s typical sites list, but next time you find yourself visiting Hamburg, consider making a stop to see why Ohlsdorf Cemetery tops the list as Germany’s most beautiful cemetery.
Photos by Markus Merz via flickr and Anneke Wolf via Wikipedia