Tucked away between a series of busy train lines in Berlin lies a beautiful little cemetery established in 1892- Grunewald. Because of its peculiar location, it became known as the “Island of the Dead.”
An autumn visit is highly recommended as the bright yellows and reds of the changing leaves only add to the enchantment of this hidden enclave.
As is the case with many cemeteries in Berlin, Grunewald feels like an oasis among bustling city life where nature finds a place to flourish. Sure enough, during our first visit, a large bird of prey dramatically swooped in from above and landed high up on a barren branch. A second one joined soon after and made an unsuspecting wood pigeon take a drastic turn mid-flight.
The inconspicuous entrance consists of an elegant but rather nondescript iron gate leading onto a bridge over the train tracks below. It was only after rounding the corner that we discovered that there was anything of interest to be found here at all.
Looking down the tree-lined path, a glimpse of the pretty red brick neogothic chapel can be seen. It was built around 1894 and expanded/redesigned in 1902 by the architects Zaar & Vahl famous for their sculptural elephant entrance of the Berlin Zoo.
There are plenty of stunning graves to pique a history buff’s interest including an ornately carved wooden coffin visible in the Schröter Family mausoleum, or the intricate mosaic work on Dr. Bernhard Dernburg’s grave. Hans Geiger, renowned physicist and inventor of the Geiger counter, also has a resting place among the trees and flowers of Grunewald.
Luckily, the cemetery was declared a historical monument in 1995 and given protected status. As a result, this beautiful garden and open air gallery will be preserved for others to enjoy for many years to come.
Visit Grunewald cemetery at: Bornstedter Straße 11–12, 10711 Berlin