Discover the beauty of Munich’s cemeteries!
What is beyond death? This is, paradoxically, one of the great unknowns of life. Some believe in paradise; others prefer to think that we will sink into an eternal sleep, just as when we sleep and remember nothing of what we have dreamed.
The episode “Juniper” of the acclaimed TV series Black Mirror (created by Charlie Brooker) was an audience favorite for showing another possible way to live an eternal life or a life beyond (un)death.
The cemeteries of Munich are not only places to go to mourn a loved one who is no longer with us. People in this city go for walks and jogs to there, parents with children, artists for inspiration, people who take a book for a quiet read… here is a list of the lesser-known “parks” in the city:
Our first favorite.
Duke Albrecht V had it built in 1563 for those who died of the plague, because the consecrated church fields were no longer sufficient for the numerous dead.
Undoubtedly the most romantic and special of the whole city. Ivy and ferns are falling everywhere. Some tombs are so old that they no longer seem to have an owner.
Here, many artists and historians lose themselves for hours to find inspiration or to capture some element of any hidden corner. The green-tinted tombstones bear the names of an almost endless number of personalities of the city:
- Johann Conrad Develey: court supplier and inventor of sweet mustard. Thanks for that mustard, Johann, without it the Bavarian breakfast would not be the same.
- Carl von Effner: garden architect of Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof castles. There are no words to describe how grateful we are.
- Maximus Imhof: co-founder of the Oktoberfest. On behalf of all humanity, thank you.
- Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner: the two architects and eternal rivals. They were shapers of the city’s landscape, they also found their final resting place here. Without them, Munich would not be Munich.
And a long, long, long etcetera…
It is a small cemetery of about 200 graves not suitable for all “publics”. Those who want to rest there forever, must be illustrious characters, celebrities, or at least meet a series of requirements… such as having lived in certain neighborhoods of the city of Munich or having served special services. Such is the case of the NSDAP press officer, Ernst Hanfstaengl; or Liesl Karlstadt, Munich artist and comedian.
The tombstones and graves here are simple and unobtrusive.
From a small and unostentatious one, to one of the largest and most extravagant. With its 35,000 graves, it is densely populated with trees. A white building with a green dome is located on St.-Martins-Platz. This is where the funeral services are held.
Strictly symmetrical, its extensive grounds contain an interesting mix of colorful tombs, sepulchers and mausoleums, with a capacity similar to the Ostfriedhof.
At the entrance you can see two cock-lion sphinxes that are copies of the originals, which disappeared overnight in 1958 and are still unaccounted for. One of the great mysteries of the Munich cemeteries.
In the northern part there is a grove with a granite stone to commemorate the 2,099 bombing victims of World War II who were buried there in a mass grave.
Open since 1868, it was the central cemetery and was in use until 1944. Today it serves as a place where the residents of the Maxvorstadt district come to play sports, to get away from the hectic neighborhood or even to take the children to let off steam on the playground or to have a picnic.
This cemetery is located in what in the thirties was to be part of one of the great avenues of the “Capital of the Movement”, to which Adolf Hitler wanted to convert Munich, so it almost disappeared. Fortunately, the outbreak of World War II prevented this.
Munich as “The City of Movement” on our tour of National Socialism, the Third Reich Tour.
We leave for the end our second favorite cemetery.
It was the first forest cemetery and a pioneer in Europe. Its author, Hans Grässel, avoided strict geometric forms and opted for tall trees, curved paths and dense vegetation. With 170 hectares and some 65,000 tombs, it is the largest in the city, with its old and new parts, and where many religions and worldviews converge.
In 1955, the first Islamic cemetery in Germany was established, and later the Jewish cemetery was added. Along the Tischlerstraße is a military cemetery where more than 3,500 victims of the two world wars are buried. The Italian flag flies on the “Cimitero Militare Italiano” in the New Part. Here lie some 3,200 fallen Italians. A memorial also commemorates the many victims of the “euthanasia” murders, whose brains were examined by scientists at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes (now the Max-Planck-Society) in Berlin and Munich.
Illustrious personalities such as Michael Ende (author of works such as “Momo”); the Nobel Prize winner in physics Werner Heisenberg (pioneer in quantum mechanics); and even the founder of the cemetery, have their tomb of honor here.
We like the curious mix that Munich cemeteries make: places of remembrance, of stroll, of inspiration, of memory, of mixture of cultures…
But although the cemeteries here do not have that dark or dark point… the city is full of mysteries and murky legends that are part of its magic. To get to know this other facet of Munich’s history, we invite you to join our Mysteries and Legends Tour (in Spanish lenguaje).
And if you liked this list of Munich cemeteries, we invite you to share your opinion in the comments. Did you know any of them?