Christiansenpark, Old Cemetery and Museumsberg

On the Western Heights in Flensburg, above the city center, there is an impressive park and cemetery ensemble as an espression of a profound landscape design of the time around 1800. Today it is considered the most important bourgeois garden monument of the Enlightenment period in the north of Schleswig-Holstein. The 10-arce Christiansenpark and Museumsberg are the remains of the extensive landscape gardens from the first half of the 19th century of the merchant family Christiansen. From 1810 to 1813, the first municipal cemetery in the North, today called "Alter Friedhof" (Old Cemetery), was laid out in the middle of the Christiansen gardens.


Christiansen`s gardens grew in 1820 from originally two landscape gardens: to the west of the Old Cemetery the garden of the merchant Peter Clausen Stuhr (died 1820), which was laid out from 1797 (today Christiansenpark), and the garden of the merchants Andreas Christiansen senior (1743 - 1811) and junior (1780-1831), which was laid out east of the Old Cemetery, with the Boreas Mill (today Museumsberg with fjord hillside) built in 1799/1800. The trading house Christiansen was a leader in West Indian trade, owned sugar refineries, trading yards and shipyards, operated oil mills and was the owner of numerous ships. The gardens were created as an expression of the bourgeois wish to represent the interests of an enlightened merchant community: the free development of nature symbolizes the free devolopment of man, in keeping with the spirit of the Enlightenment. Christiansen`s estate, in its largest espansion from 1820 to 1856, comprised an astonishing area of over 62 acres on the Western Heights, which was parcelled out and built on piece by piece as a result of the decline of the trading house in the 1850s. The most important elements of the former Christiansen Gardens are the representative country house (today a hospice), several neo-Gothic falrm buildings, three ponds, a small waterfall, a memorial stone to the horticultural exhibition of 1874 and two grottos. These two grottos - the Mummy Grotto in today`s Christiansenpark and the Mirror Grotto on today`s Museumsberg - are unique in their way and thus of particular importance for the art of garden design.

Mummy Grotto

The mummy grotto dates from the early days of the gardens and was already setup under Peter Clausen Stuhr, probably around 1800. In the small grotto there is an antique Phoenician human sarcophagus from the time around 400 BC, which may have come to Flensburg as ballast and was placed in the landscape garden as a gruesome attraction and covered with a rock grotto. This sarcophagus will have served as model for the design of the cemetery.

Mirror Grotto

The second grotto, the Mirror Grotto, is located south of the museum and is only accessible on request. It was built around 1820 by Andreas Christiansen jr. as an octagonal central building and was formerly lined with 13 mirrors. Their repfections into intinity make even the tiny underground space appear infinitely large and raise questions about the finiteness and intinity of space and time. Plans for such a mirror cabinet have survived, some by the universal genius Leonardo da Vinci. One can only speculate about the architect, the sense of usefulness of this sophisticated garden architecture - even the question of a conceivable Masonic use remains open.

The Mirror Cave was extensively restored in 2008/2009.

Christiansenpark has been owned by the city of Flensburg since 1992 and is accessible to visitors at all times as a puplic green space, as is the Old Cemetery. A walk during the crocus blossom period is particularly worthwile.

Old Cemetery - "A beautiful garden of god`s"

Until the 18th century, it was customary to bury the dead in the inner-city chruchyards rigth next to the church, but the increasing number of inhabitants and the resulting  overcrowding ot the graveyards also increased the need for new burial sites. Therfore, the architect Axel Bundsen (1768 - 1832) was commisioned to build a new burial ground - at that time still outside the city gates. It was the first municipal cemetery in the North. This new cemetery outlines in its elongated drop shape an ancient human sarcophagus, such as that found in the mummy grotto in Christiansenpark. To this day, the Old Cemetery forms a creative whole with the sorrounding landscape and was already considered a welcome addition to the landscape gardens at the time of  its construction (1810 - 1813). It served as the main cemetery of the city until 1872. More than 25.000 burials took place here until 1953.

Chapel at the Cemetery

At the entrance to the cemetery, a classicist chapel was built as a domed central building with two annexes. With its mighty entrance gates, the chappel symbolizes a gateway from this world to the world of death.

The Cappel was completely restored in 2001.

The 6.2-acre cemetery with more than 600 historic graves has remained almost unchanged to this day and is one of the most important monuments of classicism in Schleswig-Holstein. One of the most important graves, that of the Christiansen family, (the only crypt), is the neo-Gothic canopy over a cross, which was designed by the Prussian master biulder Karl-Friedrich Schinkel.