There is a quieter alternative – a stroll through one of Munich´s graveyards. Some are spacious, some are small. Some are designed like parks, some just consist of rows and rows of simple graves. With more or less prominent “residents” whose gravesites tell stories about the city´s history. Today: The Old South Cemetery
Vienna has its central cemetery. Munich has one, too. It is just named differently. The Old South Cemetery (“Alter Südfriedhof”) is the oldest still existing graveyard in Munich. It is located south of “Sendlinger Tor”, within the triangle formed by Thalkirchner Straße, Pestalozzistraße and Kapuzinerstraße, and has the shape of a sarcophagus. For 80 years (1788 – 1868), the South Cemetery was the general burial place for the dead of the entire city. Therefore, you´ll find the tombs of many well-known Munich inhabitants.
As I enter the cemetery from the Kapuzinerstraße, the traffic noise subsides and silence embraces me. Solid brick walls, covered with ivy, shield the park-like area. Tall trees tower over pompous monuments and weathered tombstones. A squirrel scurries across the path and races up a tree. Snow crunches under my feet. Soon, I stand in front of the tombs of Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gärtner, the two classicist master-builders. Rivals during their lifetime, they lie now in neighbouring graves. And I imagine them sitting side by side on a cloud, looking at their buildings and discussing architecture…
I walk on through the snow-covered park, stopping at the gravesites of Carl Spitzweg, Georg Ohm, Justus von Liebig, Josef von Fraunhofer. Johann Conrad Develey is buried here, too. This is the guy who created the sweet mustard. Many other prominent people found their final resting place in this cemetery, but I turn to the monument commemorating the Sendling peasant battle on 25 December 1705 (“Sendlinger Mordweihnacht”). According to the legend, over 500 people who fought in the battle are buried at this point. Nobody remembers their names.
Over the outer wall I can hear cars passing by on Thalkirchner Straße. I walk the short way to the northern entrance at Stephansplatz and dive back into the bustling city. Müllerstraße with its many cafés is just around the corner. Time for a cup of coffee.