Imagine a woodland, trees not too close together and dotted among the trunks, gravestones. Small plots of ground in front of the memorials, indicate where ashes may have been scattered. Some inscriptions are for individuals but the vast majority are for families. Families that still visit while past generations are left to spend eternity in a Swedish forest.
Today we went to Skogskyrkogården. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The place is beautiful. Lots of headstones, littered through a woodland setting. Acres and acres of pleasant looking surroundings. It should have been amazing. A handy brochure I found being blown about atop Almhöjden or the meditation grove, states that “The city’s cemeteries are resting places for the dead and places of peace and tranquillity for the living.“
And, looking at the photo above of Almhöjden, it does indeed look lovely. Sadly the place was neither peaceful or tranquil. In fact, Skogskyrkogården is easily our least favourite World Heritage Site.
There are two problems from my point of view.
Firstly the noise is constant from a large motorway not far away. I have often mentioned the Surrey Roar in our back garden in Farnham but this is ten times worse. It cannot be ignored. There’s no way I’d want my ashes spread there. Not nice at all.
Obviously back in 1917 when they started building it, there was probably just bird song and the occasional lost soul to contend with but things have changed a lot in the land of the living. It’s a good thing that the Resurrection is not going to happen because there’s a lot of dead people in Skogskyrkogården who will take one look at the modern world and just want to go back into the ground.
The second problem with Skogskyrkogården is the fact that it has roads through it. Lots of roads. And lots of roads equals lots of cars. And not just cars. There’s even a regular bus service that goes right through the cemetery.
There were lots of other people, many with dogs, taking in the noisy tranquillity, including a couple of kids rolling down some seriously steep hills that ended in a road. I guess they were in the right place for it.
It was a pity that none of the chapels were open. Looking at the photographs on the website, they look quite amazing inside. They are currently shut because of the pandemic which has halted the regular tours. And you can only see inside on a tour. Or if you are accompanying a funeral.
One of the chapels, the Woodland Chapel designed by Gunnar Asplund and opened in 1920, has a rather scary looking gold angel on the roof. She is called Angel of Death and was made by Carl Milles. I would have thought the Angel of Death would be a friendly, welcoming kind of creature given she’s there to take you to heaven. But maybe this one is working for the other side. I don’t know.
Noise and traffic aside, we spent a lovely couple of hours wandering about, trying to enjoy it. The weather, at least, was beautiful, a far cry from yesterday.
We’d started the day dropping the girls off with the Perfect Swedish Family before heading to Notholmen Café for coffee and pancakes. That, at least, was peaceful. There’s no traffic on the tiny island. The ducks can be a bit loud, and sometimes the kids can be less than quiet but it’s a far nicer aural landscape than Skogskyrkogården.
We then rounded off the day with a lovely Italian early dinner in Tyresö Centrum. The restaurant (Toscanini) serves very Italian meals in a typically Italian atmosphere. Our waiter apologised that he didn’t have a menu in English. The meals were in Italian so that was fine.
Mirinda asked the waiter if he was Italian. He said no, he was Turkish. We laughed. As Mirinda said we were a couple of Australians, eating in an Italian restaurant, served and cooked by Turks, in Sweden. A real multi-national meal.
All in all, ignoring the noise, it was a lovely day spent sucking up plenty of vitamin D.
In passing, I spotted this gravestone as we wandered among the Lidstroms and Skoglunds.
I’ve tried to find out who the Loveable Rogue, Michael Anthony Beasley was and why he is remembered in Stockholm. All I’ve discovered is that he was born in Romford in 1947, married Vivienne in Maidenhead in 1968 and died in Bergerac in 2008. I guess he was looking for that elusive pot of gold. I hope he found it.