On a gorgeous summer day last week I decided to venture out to a tiny village on the outskirts of Amsterdam: Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Of course I was on a death-related mission. This picturesque town happens to be home to the oldest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands, Beth Haim. I had seen a few images of the place online and was instantly triggered by the intricate tombstone carvings I spotted. Little did I know that this place is the ultimate heaven on earth for a graveyard-girl like myself. Warning 1: this post is very photo heavy. And – warning 2 – it may provoke the sudden urge to visit Ouderkerk aan de Amstel as soon as possible.
Browsing tag: cemetery
After my mother passed away last month, I took a trip to Iceland to clear my head and renew my energy. The landscape and climate perfectly fit my mood, yet it being unknown territory put things in a different perspective and helped me transition into a new beginning. I visited two cemeteries during my stay in Iceland’s winter wonderland: one in downtown Reykjavik and a smaller one in Vik. If you’re into snow covered graves and tiny wooden churches, I have some treats in store for you!
In the south of Amsterdam, hidden in the midst of a residential area on the outskirts of the city, lies one of the most beautiful cemeteries of the Netherlands: Huis te Vraag. The estate of Huis te Vraag stems from the 15th century and has been in use as a farm, a shipyard and a cotton factory, until it got reassigned its new function as a Protestant cemetery in 1891. Up until 1962, when the local authorities decided to close the cemetery for further burials. Since then Huis te Vraag has been a cultural-historical monumental property. It is opened for visitors and is being maintained by two local Dutch artists, who live in the former auditorium.
I took a trip to Antwerp last week and couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to explore one of the most famous graveyards of Belgium: Schoonselhof. Located in the district of Hoboken just outside of the city, the cemetery covers over 200 acres. In fact, it is so big I didn’t get to see everything.
The property of Schoonselhof was purchased by the city in 1911 and opened as a public cemetery in 1921. The cemetery is set up as a park, with long lanes, a wide variety of trees and well kept flowerbeds. It is a great place to take a walk and pay a visit to countless famous Belgians who have found their final resting place among the trees and birds.
St Barbara is a Catholic cemetery located in the northern part of Haarlem, in the Netherlands. It is situated in the midst of a residential area. Houses surround it and a big road with shops is across the street from the entrance. But inside its gates, you find a quiet small cemetery that emanates eternal peace.
Cemeteries can teach us a lot. They tell us about history, about the people who lived here before us. Who they were, how they are to be remembered. And of course, wandering a cemetery reminds us of our own mortality. It breaks the spell of our every day routines and brings us back to the core of who we are and what life is about…
I’m sure you’ve heard of the type of people who hang out at cemeteries with a bottle of wine and make out amidst the headstones. That’s me and my man. We love taking walks at graveyards and revel in the peace and beauty they emit. Therefor I am starting this series of cemetery reviews; to show you all the good ones.
De Nieuwe Ooster is the largest cemetery in Amsterdam. It replaced the older Oosterbegraafplaats in 1894 and a crematory was added in 1994, which upped its title to “Nieuwe” (Dutch for new.) Initially designed by landscape architect Leonard Springer, it covers almost 75 acres and accommodates a wide variety of old and modern graves, as well as a funeral museum and a gorgeous arboretum.