I actually generally enjoy touring cemeteries. They offer a great view of history and also are generally quite peaceful places to visit. A short ride on the metro south of Stockholm sits the city’s most famous cemetery, Skogskyrogården. The space was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 thanks to its unique landscape and architecture and given my mild obsession with visiting such sites, this seemed like a decent way to spend a couple hours. The cemetery was built in the early 1900s so the history isn’t particularly extensive, but the serenity and beauty of the space make up for that a bit.
The landscape is quite beautiful. The entire space is not occupied with graves (though there are about 100,000 on the grounds and about 2,000 funerals held annually) so there is also open space available to wander through and vistas from which the surrounding areas can be viewed. The space is also built to take advantage of the natural space, with the forests integrated into the plan rather than cut away to make room for the site.
And, perhaps most impressive, the individual graves are quite lovely. The density is high (way more markers than there is space for bodies that they are marking) so I’m not entirely sure how that works out but many of the markers are also quite well maintained, showing the love of the current generation for previous ones.
It was a cold, gray day, with snow on the ground. Walking the paths cut through the trees and seeing the occasional candle lit marking a memorial was incredibly beautiful.
There are a number of chapels scattered around the grounds. These are only available for visiting as part of the guided tours which do not run in the dead of winter but we sill could peek in the windows of a couple of them. I particularly enjoyed the Heliga korsets kapell but the others didn’t really do much for me, at least of what I saw.
After a couple hours out in the cold the beauty of the space was outweighed by the numbness in my fingers and toes. Plus, the sun had set and it was getting dark in a hurry, with not much in the way of light available in the cemetery itself. It was time to head back into town.
I’m not entirely sure why the Skogskyrogården is considered so special as to rate a designation as a World Heritage Site but it was enjoyable to walk around for a bit. And without that designation I almost certainly wouldn’t have seen it, so I suppose that’s something.
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