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Visiting Cemeteries in Munich

Sarah N Walker

Photos - Visiting Cemeteries in Munich: A selection of photos from walks through Munich's East Cemetery and others.

In the spring of 2002 I was wandering around Munich with a friend of mine from England when we came upon a giant, ivy-covered wall in the middle of the city. As we suspected, it was a graveyard, and a beautiful one at that. We were quite lucky to have stumbled upon it in May, when the flowers were in full bloom, and were happy to get a glimpse of a morbid, yet beautiful record of Munich's history.

Munich doesn't have one single central cemetery, but rather 29, ranging from quite small to quite large. Nine of these cemeteries are designated as 'large' cemeteries by the organization that manages them. Many of these were created in the 19th century by architect Hans Grässel to compensate for the city's rapid population growth. The following is not a comprehensive list, but rather a selection of those I have visited. If you are really interested in locating the resting places of important figures, you will need to buy a book advertised at the entrance of many cemeteries. The title has the word 'Heimat' in it, but that is all I can remember. It was recently updated and the newer version is supposedly available at some bookshops. Check the adverts for more information.

Note: Bikes and dogs are not allowed in the cemeteries. I have seen many people break the former rule, but never the latter.

Alter Südlicher Friedhof

Just south of Sendlinger Tor, along Thalkirchenerstr., Pestalozzistr., and Kapuzinerstr.
There are multiple transport connections (Goetheplatz, Sendlinger Tor, etc.) You can also walk through the Glockenbach neighbourhood from the city center.
This is the first cemetery I visited while wandering the city and it is the closest to the center. Located in the Glockenbach Viertel (neighbourhood) just south of Sendlinger Tor and the Viktualienmarkt area, it has massive brick walls, and borders the small Glockenbach canal to the east. There are multiple entrances, and I highly recommend visiting. Often there are locals reading or sketching from the benches. There are some notables buried here: Spitzweg (local 19th century painter some of whose paintings are displayed in the Lenbachhaus), and two architects, Klenze and Gärtner (responsible for the Glyptothek, University on Leopold Str. and the Alte Pinakothek). Note: during the winter of 2003-04, some damage to the cemetery occurred from falling branches and so the cemetery has been indefinitely closed during spring 2004.

Ostfriedhof

Oct-Feb 8-17, Mar-Sept 8-18, Apr-Aug 8-19.
Across the river in Haidhausen; Take the 15/25/27 Tram to Ostfriedhof
Or walk up after visiting the Auer Dult (if in season)
This is a very large and well-kept cemetery with many impressive tombstones and memorials. It is definitely worth visiting. You might meet the black kitty that lives on the grounds (and probably keeps the mice away). Entrances are on several sides, but the largest I have seen is just halfway up St. Bonifatius Street between the two tram stops.

Israelicher Friedhof (Thalkirchen)

Corners of Thalkirchener Str./Dietramszeller Str/Bleyer Str.
Take the U3 to Brudermuhlstr.
Unfortunately this cemetery is closed to non-family visitors. According to the signs, only those who sign up for a special tour through the Munch Volkshochschule are allowed inside. I have heard it referred to as the 'old' Jewish cemetery, with the 'new' one being adjacent to the large Nordfriedhof in upper Schwabing. Maybe because t is the 'old' one they keep it under lock. Then again, given that the Jewish gravestones in a cemetery in Alsace were recently defaced (May 2004), I can imagine the concern over vandalism and security problems. But this cemetery looks like it must be quite lovely beyond the gates and brick. The area around it is popular for cycling as it is right on the river and not far from the zoo.

Friedhof Sendling

Take the U6 to Harras and get out on the side closest to Partnachplatz and the S-Bahn connection. Right outside of the exit towards Harras. There are also several buses that serve Harras.
This cemetery has some very lovely tombstones and is medium in size. The S-Bahn line runs just to the west of it, and somehow the place feels more open than others, despite having tall cement walls. It was founded in 1877 and is the resting place of many locals who come from Sendling, a once-independent town even older that Munich itself. The oldest tombs from Sendling, however, are located in the small churchyard at the top of Lindwurmstrasse, at the intersection with Plinganserstrasse.

Waldfriedhof

This cemetery can be accessed on Fürstenrieder str. by the 41/65 buses, stop Waldfriedhof Haupteingang or Waldfriedhof. Another possibility is to walk about 10 minutes from the U6 stop Holzapfelkreuth.. To enter the cemetery from the main entrance at Lorettoplatz, take the 62 bus to Lorettoplatz or park in the parking lot there. To visit the soldier cemetery, take the 34 bus to Ehrenmal. (Tischlerstrasse). To go to Leni Riefenstahl's grave and the Italian WWII cemetery, park on Tischlerstr. (or take the bus) and stay to the right after entering. Leni's grave is just beyond the juncture of sections 505/506/509 and just before the vast Cimitero Italiano.

This is a massive complex in a very green location near the city limits to the west. It is not far from my house and I used to get chills down my spine when driving past it at night on my scooter because I could feel the temperature drop about 10 degrees Fahrenheit once crossing Fürstenrieder on Waldfriedhof Str. This is properly deemed a 'Wald' or forest. There are plenty of trees and shade and plenty of graves! This cemetery is divided into two parts: the old and the new Waldfriedhof. Supposedly, you can admire the resting places of local artist, scientists, and actors, as well as anonymous persons and war casualties. There is even a large, section in the far southern part dedicated to Italian war casualties. The only local personality I have come across is Leni Riefenstahl, located in section 505. Across the road on Tischlerstr. Is a lovely memorial and cemetery for WWI and WWII casualties. During May, the grass is littered with forget-me-nots, dandelions and daisies, making it a peaceful place to visit.. If you visit in the warm months, you can visit the Waldheim beer garden accessible through the cemetery (follow the sign from Loretto Platz) and from the west end of Tischlerstr.

Friedhof Haidhausen

Oct-Feb 8-17, Mar-Sept 8-18, Apr-Aug 8-19
Over the river in Haidhausen. There is a bus stop (159- Kirchenstr.) just in front of the corner entrance of Elsasserstr. and Kirchenstr.
The first time I drove past this little cemetery I was sure I had found a quaint and beautiful spot. I came back to visit a few days later and was a little disappointed that the memorials and tombstones were less artistic and much less colorful than the nearby Ostfriedhof. Nevertheless, if you are walking around the neighborhood, I don't think it is a waste of time to do a round and enjoy the park.

Alter Nördlicher Friedhof

No opening times published, according to one website, it is always open.
Take the U2 to Josephsplatz. The cemetery is bounded by Ziebland Str./Luisen Str. and Arcis Str./Adalbertstr.
This cemetery was begun in 1866 and finished in 1868 with over 7000 designated places for graves. After 71 years and about 800 burials, the cemetery was left (in 1939) in the form that you find it now. This is a place to take a break. It isn't spectacular, but near other worthy sites and a fixture of Schwabing and thus, a sight you might want to see. Many locals jog and pass through the park on their way about the neighborhood.

Nordfriedhof

Take the U6 to Nordfriedhof. The cemetery is bordered on the west by Ungerer Str (the street radiating NE out of Leopold Str.) and by the upper reaches of the Englischer Garten.
One of the large cemeteries built by Grassel in the 19th century, the Nordfriedhof. Is enclosed by low stone walls. Fairly symmetrical in its layout, there are pathways lined on both sides by large, shady trees. Tombstones here tend to be more of the modest variety, but there is plenty of color in spring.

Resources

Sarah Walker Photo Essays: Photo essays on Munich, Berlin, rural Germany, Bavaria, Austria, Vancouver, New York City.


Sarah was born and raised in Seattle, Washington but currently lives in Munich, Germany.

© Sarah N Walker, 2004

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