Summer is on and Berlin wants to be explored! Those who put their historical knowledge to the test and seek some rest from the hustle of Berlin can visit oases of peace: peaceful cemeteries in Berlin. While walking in cemeteries you can admire art, tombs and get to know the history of Berlin and its former inhabitants. As my art studies were long time ago, I asked my friend, the art historian Katharina Gutzer to help me with the "Top 5 peaceful cemeteries in Berlin".
Built in the 18th century the listed area was located in front of the Berlin city wall of Berlin, while today it is located in the middle of the city. Its name comes from Dorothea, the second wife of the Great Elector, Friedrich Wilhelm. The over 250-year-old cemetery is now considered a celebrity cemetery and shines through its artistic tombs that show a cross section of the eras. Here you will find the graves of the philosophers Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Bertold Brecht or Johannes Rau. With a two simple field stones mark the grave of Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel is opposite from their grave, as it was one of Brecht's last wishes. At the entrance to the cemetery is the Bertolt-Brecht-Haus, where the pair lived their last years. One of Berlin’s most notable sculptors was Johann Gottfried Schadow, who designed his own grave, and his contemporary Christian Daniel Rauch lies not far away. Berlin’s greatest architects, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Friedrich August Stüler are also buried in the Birkenallee. Take part in a peaceful cemetery tour and get to know the connections of the people during their lifetime.
Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof Berlin Stadtmitte, Chausseestraße 126, 10115 Berlin, Station: U6 Naturkundemuseum, Daily 8:00 until sunset
A real hidden gem of Berlin
The chapel and the light installation by James Turrell is another highlight and hidden gem of this cemetery in Berlin. Light in all its magic and light as a divine being are represented by the artist James Turrell’s installation in the chapel, which was restored in 2015. Just as in mediaeval Gothic churches, the blazing, coloured light is a sign of God. The fascinating light installation begins every evening after sunset. Guided tours and viewings are available without booking in advance.
Jewish cemetery Schönhauser Allee
Surrounded by the lively Prenzlauer Berg, is the Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee. The area was used since the 1820s as a burial place for all deceased Jews of Berlin and is thus the oldest, still preserved Jewish cemetery of Berlin, until 1880 was followed by the current cemetery in Weissensee. Among other things, the painter Max Liebermann was buried here. During the Second World War and in 1988, the area suffered severe damage and partial destruction, but since 1990 extensive restoration work has taken place. As a result, the Lapidarium, a place where restored tombstones are exhibited and preserved.
Next to the cemetery is the so-called "Judenweg", whose intention can only be assumed today. One assumption is that the king did not want to meet a mourners on his way to Lustschloss Schönhausen. Since 2003 the area is a garden monument.
Jüdischer Friedhof Schönhauser Allee, Schönhauser Allee 25, 10435 Berlin, Station: U2 Senefelderplatz, Mon–Fr 8:00–16:00, Sat 7:30–13:00
Since 1880 this cemetery is one of the largest surviving Jewish cemeteries in Europe. As you walk through the area, you will see a social development of the Jewish community in Berlin through the gravestones. While in the Jewish tradition tombs are kept simple in order to reflect the belief that all are the same in death, they gradually approached the funeral art of the Wilhelmine era and became more elaborate. During the Second World War Jews hid here and nearly 600 Torah scrolls were kept, but unfortunately, the cemetery was damaged by bombing. After the war, little effort was made to preserve the area. Only since 1977 tombstones were restored and maintained and the cemetery was listed as a monument. Since 2010, repairs have been made, which were financially supported by the state of Berlin. On the cemetery, monuments commemorate the fallen soldiers of the First World War and the Jewish victims of World War II. Also the resistance fighter Herbert Baum found his last rest here and is the eponym for the road leading to the cemetery.
Herbert-Baum-Straße 45, 13088 Berlin Pankow, www.juedische-friedhoefe-berlin.de, Station: M10 Albertinenstraße, Mon–Thu 7:30–17:00, Fr 7:30–14:30, Sun 8:00–17:00, opening hours will change during winter
The Old St. Matthew's Cemetery
In the immediate vicinity of the S-Bahn station Yorkstraße is probably the most extraordinary cemetery in Berlin. In addition to honorary graves of the Berlin Senate, including the graves of the Brothers Grimm and the physician Rudolf Virchow or Rio Reiser, you can see a communal tomb by the Association Monument Posithiv. Since the 1990s, the peaceful cemetery has provided a place for burial and commemoration for people who have lost their lives to HIV and want to remind of the disease. Sometimes they offer guided tours through the cemetery to introduce you to almost forgotten female writers like Fanny Arndt, Dora Duncker, Sara Hutzler and Clementine Helm, who are buried at.
Der Alte St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof, Großgörschenstraße 12–14, 10829 Berlin, Station: U7 Yorckstraße, Daily 8:00–20:00
Zehlendorf forest cemetery
A visit to the Wannsee or the Schlachtensee can be wonderfully combined with our next tip: the Zehlendorf forest cemetery. A cemetery that attracts less because of its magnificent tombs, but captivates by its naturalness and size. The simple gravestones blend into the surroundings, as the original forest area was integrated into the cemetery after World War II and dominates its division. This peaceful cemetery is one of the youngest graveyards in Berlin, on which the last resting places of Willy Brandt, Hans Scharoun, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Hildegard Knef find.
Waldfriedhof Zehlendorf, Wasgensteig 30, 14129 Berlin, Station: S1 Mexikoplatz, Daily 9:00–19:00