A short distance south of the Globe in Stockholm is Woodland Cemetery in the southern suburb of Enskede.
It may sound macabre, but this is another of Stockholm’s UNESCO World Heritage sites (since 1994) and well worth a visit. Skogskyrkogården is a place of immense calm and beauty on about 250 acres of pine-covered boulder ridge with five striking chapels. Every curve in every pathway was built with care and purpose.
When Skogskyrkogården was founded at the beginning of the 1900s, the aim was to create something special, something original — a cemetery blending nature and architecture into a seamless whole. In1914, the cemetery committee announced an international architecture competition in which entrants were to take advantage of the local topography and woodlands.
No fewer than 53 entries were received, some from Germany, the foremost architectural power of the time. However, due to World War I, most entries were of domestic origin, and most went straight in the wastepaper basket. Most entrants had quite simply failed to understand the “thinking” behind the new cemetery.
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Instead, first prize was awarded to Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz, two thirty-year-old architects. This masterpiece of Modernist design took 25 years (1915-40) to create. It evokes a Nordic philosophy on nature, life and death.
The Swedish actress Greta Garbo is buried here, as is Asplund himself.
There are guided tours on Sundays, July – September.
Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm, written by Tor Kjolberg