What was originally intended to be a burial ground for Copenhagen’s lower class and by definition an area used to assist other cemeteries that were already full became by circumstance a cemetery for the country’s elite and intellectual. Today, Assisten’s Cemetery is known as the biggest burial site in the city, a public park used for picnics, open-air concerts and other purposes and a popular tourist attraction for its notable “residents.”
Built in the early 18th century, it was one of the five cemeteries that were established to relieve the problem of overcrowding in the existing ones. However, in 1785 a noted and influential citizen Johan Samuel Agustin specifically requested that he be buried in Assisten’s Cemetery when he died. This spurred on the rest of the bourgeoisie to follow suit and eventually it became the final resting place for many leading personalities in Denmark. Perhaps the most famous names that can be found in the cemetery are two of the country’s best literary minds and said to be arch rivals when they were alive: Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard.
Those who visit the cemetery are also likely to find the tombstones of other personalities such as scientist Niels Bohr, Carlsberg founder Christen Jacobsen, poet Dan Turell, artists Christofer Wilhelm Eckersberg and Christen Kobke along with hundred others. Because it has become an important part of the landscape in the Norrebro district, the cemetery has added a small museum which was named after one of its illustrious residents, Herman Stilling. An artist and a writer, his works are on permanent display in the museum which also houses a café and a workshop area for the youth.