TO THE EARTH WE RETURN

Ever felt moved by the sheer beauty of nature? I recently had a chance to spend some time in the heart of a forest. Far away from the noise of painful macabre daily news, in the forest cemetery in Skogskyrkagarden, located in the southern part of Stockholm, was where I had my moving experience. It was, in fact, hard not to feel awed by the peace, quiet, calmness of the exquisitely tall and beautiful pine trees surrounding the tombstones.

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This serene and beautiful patch of nature and architecture, was initiated in 1917 and completed in 1920. It was meant for an international competition in 1915 for a new cemetery design, since the cemeteries in Stockholm seemed to have become insufficient. The entry sent in by Asplund and Lewerentz won and thus began the execution of their idea which we all see today. The picturesque union of landscape and buildings later succeeded to become the UNESCO World Heritage Site and with good reason.

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Resting place to over 100,000 people spread out over acres of green, the place seems to have accepted everyone, irrespective of circumstance and belief, in its peaceful embrace. The presence of majestic forest trees takes away the somberness of the cemetery and replaces it with tranquility I have seldom experienced before. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to explore the chapels, since my friend and I were so invested in walking in the forest, we did get a chance to appreciate the Resurrection statue and the Angel of Death.

 

The forest is also home to some famous people like the Swedish actress Greta Garbo. If you are wondering who that is, she played Anna Karenina in the 1935 movie, one of the most watched and critically acclaimed adaptations of the Russian novel, Anna Karenina. Among others are poets, sportsmen, artists and a missionary, including one of the architects who designed the cemetery.

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If you are planning to visit Stockholm or are looking for places to see around the city, the forest cemetery deserves to be on your list. Enjoy the peace!

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