Världsarvsresenären / The World Heritage Traveler: Skogskyrkogården (Woodland Cemetary)


The World Heritage Traveller The Woodland Cemetery To find Stockholm’s third World Heritage Site you have to travel a bit southward by metro Here is Skogskyrkogården or “Woodland Cemetery” as it is called in English Possibly one might wonder why a cemetery is included on the World Heritage List but this is actually one of the most important works in modern 1900s architecture that has served as inspiration throughout the world The history of the Woodland Cemetery begins in 1912 when the city council in Stockholm decided to allocate land for a new cemetery A new cemetery was needed in an expansive Stockholm that in just sixty years from 1850 to 1910 more than tripled its population from 100,000 to now slightly above 350,000 Sweden was now at the beginning of the industrial revolution the old class society transformed more and more people became wage labourer and the demand for consumer goods increased sharply The agrarian society also developed with new machines and methods of cultivation And several new Swedish companies saw the light of day Like Lars Magnus Ericsson’s company L. M. Ericsson AB later known as Ericsson or Gustaf Dalen lighthouse’s Alfred Nobel powder and explosives but also Amalia Erikson’s peppermint sticks from Gränna In 1914, the City of Stockholm announced a competition to find the best proposal for the new cemetery And now there were two Swedish architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz who won the first prize Asplund and Lewerentz immediately started to create a completely new type of cemetery that later during the 1900s have come to influence similar cemeteries worldwide Gone was now the symmetrical cemeteries of the 1700s Instead a cultural landscape was designed where vegetation blended perfectly with the architecture in perfect harmony The cemetery was opened in 1920 and today here are approximately 100 000 graves But it is also a beautiful park where on a sunny day one can take a gentle stroll and think about both life… ..and death Here are cemeteries for several religions as for example here the Greek Orthodox quarters but also for Jews and Muslim quarters And in a rarely visited part of the cemetery one can find an old children’s cemetery which can make you feel a bit extra sad The best day to visit the Woodland Cemetery is on the All Saints Day in early November Then over 70,000 people come here to lay flowers, wreaths and candles on their relatives graves In many religions the month of November have always been the time of the dead Already the Celts celebrated new year and a harvest festival in November believing that this was the time when the border between our world and the dead people’s world was at its thinnest In many countries the Day of the Dead is celebrated and also here at the Woodland Cemetery there is a slight carnival atmosphere when thousands of people come here on the same day When darkness slowly descends the entire cemetery transforms into a sea of light Thousands of lanterns illuminate the many graves and becomes a united greeting from us alive to all those who’ve left their earthly life behind And perhaps it is just as simple that we need each other We who are alive need our dead’s and maybe they also need us Filmed, edited and narrated by Christer Sundberg, World Heritage Traveller

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