Graveyard in a forest: the Southwest Stahnsdorf cemetery

Monuments in one of Berlin's most beautiful graveyards

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It's one of the largest cemeteries in Europe, as well as one of the most beautiful. And yet, perhaps given it's location just outside Berlin, this vast graveyard is very much under the radar as far as most visitors to the city are concerned.

The Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf (southwest Stahnsdorf cemetery) was opened in 1909, its 206 hectares intended to alleviate a chronic shortage of space in Berlin's inner-city burial grounds.

The Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf cemetery is spectacularly located in a forest outside Berlin

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Located within a heavily forested area (the site contains 200,000 trees), it was nevertheless also planned as a landscaped environment: the first of Berlin's cemeteries to consciously adopt the model of the park-like necropolis popular elsewhere in Europe.

Stahnsdorf's southwest cemetery, Berlin, contains thousands of beautiful tombs and monuments

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Berlin's cemtery in a forest

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Quickly becoming the city's most fashionable final resting place, a train once ran directly to its gates from nearby Wannsee. The tracks, however, were dismantled during the Cold War because they led from Eastern Germany into the West.

In these years, too, the cemetery was largely neglected, its avenues and walkways becoming increasingly overgrown and the monuments and tombs left to crumble.

Even today, many of the 120,000 graves are barely visible between the trees and thick foliage, and the site doubles as one of Berlin's unofficial wildlife sanctuaries, home to buzzards, owls, badgers, deer and foxes.

The Scandanavian style wooden chapel at Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf cemetery is one of Berlin's loveliest churches

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The wooden chapel at Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf cemetery

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Nevertheless, a long-term restoration programme is now underway and many of the cemetery's noteworthy sights, including a stunning wooden mourning chapel in Norwegian style and countless exquisite tombs and monuments, have been returned to their former glory.

It may not be the easiest of Berlin's attractions to access, but it's certainly one of the most beautiful.

See also:
Expressionist tombs
A church built by the Nazis
A Gasthaus surrounded by gardens

Südwestkirchhof Stahnsdorf (Southwest Stahnsdorf cemetery): Bahnhofstraße 2, 14532 Stahnsdorf
Opening times: April - September: 7am-8pm; October: 7am-6pm; November - February: 8am- 5pm; March: 7am-6pm

Tours of the cemetery are sometimes available, and it may be possible to arrange a tour in English - check website for details and contact


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