The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Munich Cemetery Garden

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336. The general cemetery at Munich is surrounded by a border of trees and shrubs, with the exception of one end, in which is placed a semicircular building composed of an open colonnade in front, with vaults underneath. In the centre of this semicircular building is a projection behind, called the Leichenhaus, containing three large rooms, in two of which (one for males, and the other for females,) the dead, as shrouded and deposited in their coffins by their relations, are exposed to view for forty-eight hours before they are committed to the earth. The other room is for suicides and unowned bodies. The principal monuments in this cemetery are placed under the colonnade of, the Leichenhaus, and against the boundary walls; and they are seen to great advantage from the surrounding walk. The compartments in the central part are bordered by shrubs, flowers, and tombs; and the space in the interior is devoted to graves without tombs, or to graves with monuments, for those who do not choose to go to the expense of placing them in the borders. Where interments take place without tombstones, the ground is not re-opened for seven years; and the relations of the deceased, if they come forward when that period is expired, can defer it for any longer time, according to the payment that they may choose to make. This cemetery, on All Saints'-day (Nov. 1.), presents one of the most extraordinary spectacles that is to be seen in Europe. The tombs and graves are decorated in a most remarkable manner with flowers, natural and artificial, pictures, sculptures, crucifixes, vessels with meat, corn, seeds, water, oil, bread, &c., crape, feathers, drapery, canopies, branches of trees, dried moss, and, in short, with every conceivable object that can be applied to the purpose of ornament or decoration. The labour bestowed on some tombs requires so much time, that it is commenced two or three days beforehand, and protected while going on by a temporary roof. During the whole of the night preceding the 1st of November, the relations of the dead are occupied in completing the decorations of the tombs; and, during the whole of All Saints'-day and the day following, the cemetery is visited by the entire population of Munich, including the king and queen, who go there on foot, and many strangers from all parts of the country. In 1828, when we were present, it was estimated that 50,000 persons had walked round the cemetery in one day; the whole, with very few exceptions, dressed in black. On Nov. 3., about mid-day, the more valuable decorations are removed, and the remainder left to decay from the effects of time and the weather.