The Old South Cemetery (Munich, Germany)

The Old South Cemetery (Munich, Germany)
The Old South Cemetery (“Alter Südlicher Friedhof”) was established in 1563, during the reign of Henry V, the Duke of Bavaria.
The cemetery was located outside the city gates for victims of the plague. In addition to plague victims, initially poor people, social outsiders and suicides were buried there. Protestants and Jews were denied the burial at first. In 1789 burials within the city walls were generally prohibited by order of Elector Karl Theodor II. It was then that the Old South Cemetery became the Central Cemetery of Munich.

Today the Old South Cemetery is defined as a Historical Cemetery and it is one of the oldest existing cemeteries in the city of Munich. With its 450-year history it has great significance for the city of Munich and beyond.

Basic data

The cemetery covers 95.000 m2 and it once included about 20.000 graves but there are only 5.000 tombs preserved today. The predominant nationality of the deceased is German, while the predominant religions are Catholic and Protestant. People of Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox religions are also buried there. Since 1944 burials are no longer carried out in the cemetery.

Important graves and monuments

  • Ellen Ammann
  • Friedrich von Gärtner
  • Leo von Klenze
  • Ludwig von Schwanthaler
  • Ferdinand von Miller

Management of the cemetery

When the Old South Cemetery became the Central Cemetery of Munich, the management of cemeteries in Munich was completely transferred from the church in state hands. In 1818, with the new Bavarian Constitutional, the city of Munich received its local self-determination and thus the management of cemeteries in Munich.

Today, the Old South Cemetery is owned and managed by The City of Munich, Department of Health and Environment and it is protected by nature conservation and monument preservation. Since 1973 the cemetery has been registered in its entirety, including funeral monuments, in the list of important monuments in Bavaria. Since 1989 it is also a protected landscape.

Cemetery design

In 1818, the cemetery was fundamentally redesigned by Gustav Vorherr and Friedrich von Sckell and received its present form and shape. In 1850 the cemetery by Friedrich von Gärtner has been extended to the new part of the cemetery in the form of "Campo Santo". With the opening of the forest cemetery in 1907 the formation of new graves was no longer allowed in the Old Southern Cemetery. In 1943 the area was heavily damaged by bombing and since 1944 burials are no longer carried out in this cemetery. In 1953 the architect Hans Döllgast began with the restoration of the cemetery in the form of "interpretative reconstruction".

Significant aspects of the cemetery

The Old South Cemetery is a historic graveyard of European importance. The collection of historically important arts and tombs is unique - it is like a big open-air museum. At the same time, the cemetery is with its diversity of plants and animals a green oasis of great ecological importance for the city. Today, the Old Southern Cemetery is an eminent place in the Munich city center - for local people as well as for tourists.

Conservation and preservation

For the purposes of preservation and conservation of the Old South Cemetery, some projects have been carried out in recent years and will be continued also in the future. Around 3,000 tombs have been renovated since 2004 in terms of their stability. About 60 individual monuments were restored. Parallel to the renovations, a scientifically supported inventory of all tombs in the Old South Cemetery took place between 2004 and 2007. Also an inventory of the existing flora and fauna in the cemetery was conducted until 2013.

Cemetery address

Thalkirchner Straße 17,
80337 München,

Management adress

Landeshauptstadt München,
Referat für Gesundheit und Umwelt

Städtische Friedhöfe München,
Damenstiftstraße 8 80331 München,

Management contacts

T: +49 (0) 89 23199 201