Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium (Driehuis, Netherlands)

Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium (Driehuis, Netherlands)
A cemetery in a vast dune landscape, with the official status of a bird sanctuary.

That is one of the many things that make Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium so special. The hilly terrain provides an almost intimate shelter. At the same time, Westerveld represents a historic turning point in Dutch death culture, and this magnificent location is the seat of the cremation movement in the Netherlands.

In the 17th century, the Westerveld country estate was an idyllic spot owned by a rich family from Amsterdam. After the site had been purchased as a cemetery in 1888, landscape architect Louis Paul Zocher (1820-1915) - known for his design for the Vondelpark in Amsterdam (1864) - adapted the park in line with its new function.

The fact that this magnificent dune area turned into a cemetery at the end of the 19th century, was the result of a changing funeral culture. From 1 January 1866, people could no longer be buried in churches and graveyards, by order of the government. Cemeteries sprung up on the city outskirts. A number of wealthy residents of Amsterdam, mainly from the world of banking, were looking for a tranquil location for a family cemetery with a perpetual grave right. Their attention was drawn to the remote Westerveld country estate in the dunes. They entered into an agreement with the company that ran the Amsterdam-IJmuiden railway line. Until 1917, the deceased and their next of kin could be transported by a special mourning train. A special branch ran from the main line to Westerveld, complete with a mourning station and adjoining auditorium.

The hilly landscape made it possible to build aboveground crypts in the dunes. In 1906, the famous Dutch architect Joseph Th. J. Cuypers - known for the new Saint Bavo Cathedral in Haarlem (completed in 1930) - designed the oldest of these aboveground crypts, which held eighteen coffins. Wandering around Westerveld you encounter various mausoleums, each with their own architecture and character.

Architect Willem Marinus Dudok (1884-1974) has played an important role in the history of Westerveld. He designed the second cremation auditorium, an urn and a number of columbaria.

Westerveld, which has been managed by 'the Facultatieve Group' since 2004, is the final resting-place for many Dutch persons who were famed at home and abroad. In 1948, social critic and author Multatuli (1820-1887) - the first Dutchman to be cremated, albeit in Germany - was given a monument at Westerveld, of soft marlstone with a sculpted flaming torch. A gold-coloured urn with a bronze tablet in the first columbarium reminds visitors of the physician doctor Christiaan Joannes Vaillant, the first person to be cremated in the Netherlands (1914). The monument for Aletta Henriëtte Jacobs (1854-1929) and her husband stands against the wall of the second columbarium, close to the Impluvium. Jacobs was the first graduated woman and the first female physician in Dutch history. The bronze relief in the monument depicts a man and a woman, both kneeling down on the globe and holding a burning torch. Other famous world citizens who found their final resting-place at Westerveld include the Austrian ideologist Marxism Karl Kautsky († 1938), aviation pioneer Antony Fokker († 1939), Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin († 1981) and Russian pianist Youri Egorov († 1988).

For them and everyone else, once a year Westerveld is home to a Concerto In Memoriam, attended by thousands of visitors who listen to impressive music and a Word of Comfort, spoken by a different guest speaker each year.

Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium
Duin en Kruidbergerweg 2-6
1985 HG Driehuis

e-mail: info@bc-westerveld.nl
Website: Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium

Tel. +31(0)255514843
Tel/Fax: +31(0)255530076

Opening hours
Every day from 09.00 to 17.00

Points of interest


Westerveld Cemetery & Crematorium (Driehuis, Netherlands)