Vår Frelsers Cemetery. The romantic park where Munch and Ibsen rest in peace.
When Vår Frelsers Cemetery was consecrated on June 17, 1808, it was primarily a cemetery for well-to-do Oslo citizens. Those who lived in the city were affluent, and at that time, it was possible for the rich to by a burial plot before they died, something the poor could not afford to do.
In 1864, a Chapel was first built in the eastern section of the burial grounds and was later altered a number of times. The plain stone building was used for funerals about ten times per year and one of the reasons for such limited use was that those being buried were often rich and their funerals took place in one of the two important churches in Oslo at that time, Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church) and Oslo Cathedral.
By 1911, the cemetery was full. Afterwards, new plots were only created on the sites of those whose lease had expired. After 1952, no new plots were allotted, although it was still possible to intern urns in old family graves. From now on, it is again possible to acquire a new urn plot in the honorable cemetery.
Cemetery as a historical monument
Today, the cemetery is listed for preservation and is regarded as an important historical monument. Therefore, old graves monuments cannot be removed and it is not permitted to erect new ones. 4500 monuments are registered as especially worthy of preservation; 1600 graves of significant national or local personalities in the field of economics, politics and culture from the last half of the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century were recorded in a database.
Garden of honor
The most important feature, in the heart of Vår Frelsers Cemetery, is the garden of honor. The idea of a “garden of honor” for the most significant Norwegian citizens first surfaced around the end of the nineteenth century. This explains why so many important people are buried outside its edges. In 1903, the artist Hans Gude was the first to be buried in the garden and, after 1981, no new graves were created.
Two of the famous Norwegians who found their final resting place in the garden are painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) and author Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). The paintings “The Scream” and “Madonna” have granted Munch worldwide renown, and he drew his inspiration for them from his home and from the Oslo community of artists to which he belonged. Ibsen’s play “Brand” and “Peer Gynt” made him the best-known and controversial writer in Scandinavia. However, outside Norway, he is known above all for his drama “A Doll’s House”. No Nordic author matched him in depicting his contemporary times, or had such a world impact as his bourgeois dramas did.
Characteristics of the cemetery
Classicism and Romanticism are the two styles that characterize the cemetery in their own ways. Romanticism features throughout the cemetery, and shady copses, narrow paths and rocky outcrops are all reminders of the nature of Norway. Classicism appears most strongly in the details, in the use of symbols and in the design of individual monuments, especially in the oldest section of the cemetery. Functionalism, with its unbroken lawns and non-elaborate, plain monuments plays a significant role in the current Vår Frelsers Cemetery panorama.
Points of interest
Vår Frelsers Cemetery
0172 Oslo kommune
P: +47 22 13 31 80
F: +47 52 51 60
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