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Gravely does it: Berlin’s most beautiful cemeteries

Quiet and leafy, Berlin's cemeteries ooze history. Lose yourself for an afternoon in one of these tranquil oases.

Image for Gravely does it: Berlin's most beautiful cemeteries

The Dorotheenstädt Cemetery is one of Berlin’s most famous graveyards. Photo: Garrido

A stroll through Berlin’s leafy, history-steeped cemeteries is always worthwhile. These sacred grounds are places of remembrance, but also oases of peace. Here you’ll find abundant nature, famous graves, stories to unravel, and, above all, time to yourself in the silence.

From the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery with its notable names to the Jewish Friedhof in Weißensee or the Alte St. Matthäus-Kirchhof in Schöneberg, each is a world of its own. If you want to know the real Berlin, its beautiful cemeteries are a good place to start.

Dorotheenstadt Cemetery

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The final resting place of Bertolt Brecht and his wife Helene Weigel at the Dorotheenstädt Cemetery in Mitte. Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Of the many celebrity cemeteries in Berlin, the small Dorotheenstädtische Friedhof in Mitte is probably the most famous. Established in 1762, it was repeatedly expanded over the following decades. The cemetery is known as the final resting place of Bertolt Brecht, who spent the last years of his life in the neighbouring house at Chausseestraße 125.

In any case, the Dorotheenstadt Cemetery is a tourist highlight among the most beautiful graveyards in Berlin. As well as Brecht and his wife Helene Weigel, the playwright Heiner Müller, writer Heinrich Mann, philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel are buried here.

Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof, Chausseestraße 126, Mitte

Jewish Cemetery at Schönhauser Allee 

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The Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

Prominent figures from 19th-century Jewish life are buried in the cemetery on Schönhauser Allee, the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer and entrepreneur James Simon among them.

The Jewish walkway behind the cemetery is fascinating, supposedly built because Friedrich Wilhelm III didn’t want to attend Jewish burials on his way to Pankow. Others think the path had religious origins.

Jüdischer Friedhof Schönhauser Allee 23–25, Prenzlauer Berg

Heerstraße Cemetery

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The Heerstraße Cemetery in autumn. Photo: Imago/F. Anthea Schaap

At almost 150,000 square metres and idyllically located in Charlottenburg, this is one of the most tranquil cemeteries in the city. With its many trees and the Sausuhlensee lake at the heart of the grounds, the area is more reminiscent of a park. Interestingly, Friedhof Heerstraße is not located directly on the well-known traffic artery but on the much quieter Trakehner Allee close to the Olympic Stadium.

The Heerstrasse Cemetery tops the list with the most honorary graves – 51 in total. Many icons from the Weimar Republic are buried here: the art collectors Paul and Alfred Cassirer, actress Tilla Durieux, painter Georg Grosz, director Felix Hollaender and composer and co-inventor of the Trautonium, one of the first-ever electronic musical instruments, Oskar Sala.

Friedhof Heerstraße Trakehner Allee 1, Charlottenburg (Westend)

Zehlendorf Forest Cemetery

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The Zehlendorf Forest Cemetery. Photo: Imago/Chromorange

Alongside Waldfriedhof Dahlem, the Waldfriedhof Zehlendorf is also a bit of a celebrity cemetery, with the graves of legendary politicians such as Willy Brandt, Paul Löbe, Otto Suhr and Walter Scheel to be found here, as well as singer and actress Hildegard Knef, one of the city’s great divas. A walk through the almost 40-hectare area is therefore also a stroll through German history.

After World War II, Zehlendorf Forest Cemetery was expanded and enlarged. 1170 Italian prisoners of war found their final resting place here, among others.

Waldfriedhof Zehlendorf Wasgensteig 30, Zehlendorf

Cemetery at Hallesches Tor

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18th-century tombs at the Hallesches Tor cemeteries. Photo: Imago/Jochen Tack

The history of the cemeteries in front of Hallesches Tor – the ensemble includes a total of six different resting places – dates back to the early 18th century. Many old graves can be found here, overgrown with moss and ivy, the stones cracked and the ornate iron grates rusting slowly under the mighty trees.

It’s an eerily romantic cemetery that once attracted goths to nightly moonlight parties, drawn by the mystical spirit of this special place. Many artists, architects, musicians and actors were buried here; the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and the architect behind Staatsoper unter den Linden, Prussian master Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff.

Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor Mehringdamm 22, Kreuzberg

Grunewald Forest Cemetery

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The grave of Nico, who sang with the Velvet Underground, at the cemetery in Grunewald. Photo: Imago/Rolf Kremming

Hidden deep in Grunewald forest and not easily accessible by public transport or car, lies the Friedhof Grunewald-Forst. The small graveyard was once known, rather grimly, as ‘suicide cemetery’. In the 19th century, lost corpses found floating in the nearby Havel River were buried here. At the time, Christian cemeteries still refused to give ‘mortal sinners’ an official burial.

Since the late 1980s, Grunewald Forest Cemetery has become a mecca for music fans. In Paris lies Doors singer Jim Morrison; here, instead, lies the mythically revered Nico (1938-1988) – actress, model, Andy Warhol’s muse and singer on the first album (the one with the banana) by The Velvet Underground.

Grunewald-Forst Cemetery Havelchaussee 92B, Grunewald


Image for Gravely does it: Berlin's most beautiful cemeteries

Invalidenfriedhof in Mitte. Photo: Imago/Schöning

The 2.5-hectare Invalidenfriedhof is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in the city. The graves of prominent officers and high-ranking officials bear witness to the splendour of Prussia and German military history, dating back to the German Wars of Liberation.

Even after the World War II, during which large parts of the grounds were destroyed, a chapter of East-West history took place here – part of the Berlin Wall ran across the cemetery grounds. In the 1960s, four people who tried to flee the GDR died at the Invalidenfriedhof border section.

Invalidenfriedhof Scharnhorststraße 31, Mitte

Jewish Cemetery Weißensee

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The Jewish cemetery in Weißensee. Photo: Imago/Schöning

In Weißensee, one is reminded of how rich and diverse Jewish life was in Berlin until the Nazi takeover and the Holocaust. Established in 1880, the Jüdische Friedhof Weißensee is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe with almost 120,000 graves. After the division of Berlin, another one was built in the west of the city on Heerstraße.

If you read the names of the dead between the closely packed gravestones today, you will once again become aware of the great wound that the Nazis drove into the heart of this city.

Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee Herbert-Baum-Straße 45, Weißensee

Cemetery Stubenrauchstraße

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The Columbarium urn hall designed by Hans Altmann at the Stubenrauchstraße cemetery in Friedenau. Photo: Imago/Cathrin Bach

Visitors to Friedhof Stubenrauchstraße shouldn’t miss a peek inside the columbarium, or ‘urn hall’, an elongated, two-storey brick building dating back to around 1916.

But the cemetery’s premier attraction is the grave of (probably) the most famous Berlinerin ever: Marlene Dietrich. In addition to the legendary actress and singer, who spent most of her life in the USA and France, Berlin-born star photographer Helmut Newton also found his final resting place here.

Städtischer Friedhof Stubenrauchstraße Stubenrauchstraße 43–45, Friedenau

Alter St. Matthäus-Kirchhof

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Alter St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof in Schöneberg. Photo: Imago/Schöning

Right at the entrance of this churchyard, a small garden café invites you to take a short break. The old cemetery is not big, but has a unique charm. From the Brothers Grimm to punks, local artists and a Hells Angel, you’ll encounter unusual graves and stories here.

Alter St. Matthäus-Kirchhof Großgörschenstraße 12-14, Schöneberg

Bergmannstraße Cemetery

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The cemetery on Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg. Photo: Imago/imagebroker

If you continue walking along the busy Bergmannstraße in Kreuzberg in the direction of Südstern, you leave the hustle and bustle of Marheinekeplatz and come to a long brick wall. Behind it is the Bergmannstraße cemetery. Café Strauß, right at the entrance to the graveyard, is one of the most beautiful cafés in Kreuzberg.

Behind the gate, an oasis of tranquility awaits the visitor; spacious avenues, winding footpaths, historic graves, romantic statues and chapels hidden behind trees. A place to reflect in peace.

Friedhöfe an der Bergmannstraße Bergmannstraße 39-47, Kreuzberg

Friedrichsfelde Cemetery

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Memorial of the Socialists at Friedrichsfelde Cemetery. Photo: Imago/POP-EYE/Christian Behring

One of the most beautiful cemeteries in Berlin? Well, yes. The centralist architecture of the Socialists’ Memorial at Friedhof Friedrichsfelde is somehow both oppressive and uplifting. In 1951, the East German regime had the monument erected with the striking phrase ‘The dead admonish us’ as a manifestation of the socialist idea. Here lie the founders of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany), Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, as well as GDR greats such as Otto Grotewohl, Walter Ulbricht and Wilhelm Pieck.

Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde Gudrunstraße 20, Lichtenberg

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