Every European city of some size has at least one (historic) cemetery that is the public’s favorite – or is promoted as such. Cologne has Melaten Friedhof. The current cemetery was founded at the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleontic legislation commanded the dead to be buried outside if the city limits. At the place where there once was a leprosy colony (from the 12th century) now lay a beautifully landscaped park with majestic trees. The impressive graves of Colognes finest are situated along wide lanes, commoners have found their final resting place on one of the many grave fields. But the grand family graves with their colossal monuments literally overshadow the rest. My photographs show that also my attention was drawn towards the grotesque…
As is often the case on German cemeteries the place is well taken care of by a small army of greenkeepers, who are generally hired by the family to keep the graves tidy and green. At the entrance I saw a beautiful quote from Rilke’s “The Book of Hours”: Do you not see that there is my soul, and that it stands close before you, in a gown woven of silence.
All photographs are taken by Claudia Venhorst at Melaten Friedhof Köln, 7 June 2017.