It was a beautiful day in Hamburg. And if you’ve ever visited Northern Germany, you’d know how that rarely happens! But since I had nothing planned for the day, I decided to hop on the metro and go all the way to visit the Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
At first I thought I was just going to take a stroll in a regular park. Little did I know that the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg is the biggest rural cemetery in the world!
Most people might not be keen on the idea of randomly going for a walk through the graves. But Ohlsdorf looks nothing like a regular, classic cemetery!
There is nothing depressing or creepy about it. It’s just a beautiful, regular park where you can admire bright colored flowers, listen to chirpy birds and yes, pass by mausoleums, gorgeously sculpted statues and even visit a funeral museum.
Visiting the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg
There are 4 main entrances to the park, for vehicles, buses and people looking to visit. Getting off the metro at the Ohlsdorf station, all I had to do was cross the street and walk through one of the gates.
As soon as you enter the park, you’ll notice the well kept green lawns, some bus stops near you and also, a map. Make sure you take a snapshot of the Ohlsdorf map! The park has an area of almost 400 hectares (about 960 acres) so getting lost is not only easy, but actually possible.
From there on out, it’s really up to you where you’ll begin your walk.
Ohlsdorf Cemetery presents itself as a regular park. The area is actually not just used a burial ground for people. It is a well kept recreational spot in the city and it is also one of the most interesting travel attractions Hamburg has to offer.
Ohlsdorf Cemetery Memorials and Monuments
The cemetery has a total of 12 chapels built around the area. You can spot each one on your map and making an effort to see them all is well worth it!
Walking around the park, you should also notice the beautiful water tower of the Ohlsdorf Cemetery. There are many water towers around Hamburg and this one seems to be one of them that is very well kept:
But if you visit the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, you should definitely go see the memorial sites built in memory of the victims of Nazi persecution.
Germany played a very important part in world history and there are about 150 memorial sites just around Hamburg. You can visit 7 of them in Ohlsdorf Cemetery.
- the “Memorial for the Victims of Nazi Persecution”
- the “Passage over the River Styx”, built for the victims of the Hamburg firestorm
- the “Memorial Grove for the Hamburg Resistance Fighters”
- the “Ehrenfeld Hamburg Resistance Fighters”
- the “Burial Ground for Foreign Victims”, build in the memory of the concentration camp victims
- the “Memory Spirits” in the Garden of Women, built in honor of the female victims and opponents of the Nazi regime
- the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Hamburg”
Although there’s really nothing creepy about Ohlsdorf, this one area of the cemetery – the soldiers’ graves who died in the First and Second World War – that no longer feels like a place where you walk by random tombstones in a park.
Seeing hundreds of soldiers’ graves all in one place makes the history lessons and war stories you heard until now suddenly come to life. Myriad soldiers, deserters and even children were buried here. It’s a heartbreaking site but one worth seeing.
After a few hours of walking in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, I decided it’s time to start looking for the way out. But there was one more site that caught my attention (as I actually managed to get lost in the park…).
It’s the cancer memorial tree.
The initiative to plant a “krebserinnerungsbaum” is new and the tree was planted only about 2 years back. Although a really sad site, people began decorating it with the colorful ribbons available in the box next to it and everyone in Hamburg seems to look at it as an honorable and a beautiful gesture.
What else can you see in Ohlsdorf Park, in Hamburg
You might think Ohlsdorf – the biggest rural cemetery in the world – is interesting enough to plan a simple visit and add another Hamburg attraction on your travel map (or cross one off your bucket list, no pun intended!)
But you can actually do much more to visit Ohlsdorf “like a pro”.
Apparently, you can take up bird watching in Ohlsdorf Park. Or, if you like stories that give you the chills, you could book a guided tour and go on a fairy tale walk through the cemetery. If you’re a fan of hearing ghost stories and such, then this might be the perfect Hamburg attraction for you! (maybe visit The Dungeon in Hamburg as well, it’s worth it!)
Next time I’m in Hamburg, I’ll definitely look into a guided tour of the beautiful Ohlsdorf Cemetery. But until then, I’ll fondly remember the sights, the statues and even the sad memorial grounds and monuments.