Visiting the tombstone of H.C. Andersen in Copenhagen

Hans Christian Andersen is probably one of the most famous writer of Danish literature. If the name says nothing to you, know that you have probably already read or heard one of his tales: The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, Thumbelina, and so on. The stories of the Danish writer have been translated into hundreds of languages, inspired ballets, plays and films, and are part of the collective imagination.

One of the stories of H.C. Andersen also inspired one of Copenhagen’s most popular attractions: the statue of the Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen
The Little Mermaid, the most famous statue in Copenhagen

A few years ago, I visited Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. In this small town, the writer is well celebrated: there is a giant statue in the city center, you can visit his birthplace and even traffic lights show his silhouette.

That’s why I assumed until recently that H. C. Andersen had been buried in Odense. Well, I was wrong. H. C. Andersen’s grave is found in Copenhagen, in the Assistens cemetery of the Nørrebro district, and during my last visit to the Danish capital, my friend brought me to visit the place.

Assisens Cemetery
A walk at the cemetery

Hans Christian Andersen was born in 1805 in Odense, on the island of Funen in Denmark. Born into a poor family, he moved to Copenhagen as a teenager to become an actor, but eventually turned to writing and poetry. The director of the Danish Royal Theater Jonas Collins took him under his wing and found funds to pay for his education.

As an adult, Andersen will draw inspiration from his many travels to write stories, poems and novels. However, it is his fairy tales that will be the most successful and will make him popular throughout Europe.

Andersen died in 1875 near Copenhagen. He was buried in the Assistens Cemetery, in the lot of his Collins friends.

Assistens Cemetery
H.C. Andersen is in this direction

Finding his grave is quite easy once you get to the cemetery, you just have to follow the signs. His tombstone contains one of his quotes, but no mention of his friend Collins also buried in the same lot.

H. C. Andersen Tomb
Here rests Hans Christian Andersen

Several other Danish personalities are also buried in the Assistens cemetery, including philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (signposts are also leading to his grave) and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr.

Beyond its historical aspect, the Assistens Cemetery is also a pleasant place to walk, with its tall trees, small alleys and beautiful monuments.

Assistens Cemetery
A fall walk in Assistens Cemetery

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