Some of Stockholm’s most well-known sites are located on the island of Djurgården: especially museums: the Vasa Museum, the Nordic Museum, the Spirit Museum, the ABBA Museum, and Skansen, the world’s first living history museum. But unbeknownst to me (and probably most people), there’s a small naval cemetery in a park behind/next to the Vasa, Nordic, and Spirit museums. The cemetery seems to be a part of Galärparken, a park that holds an outdoor theatre and events, especially throughout the summer. It’s a small cemetery that starts at ground level and goes up a hill.

There are two entrances – one is a small iron gate that was closed when I first arrived (but apparently not locked since it was open when I left), and another on the coastal side, that begins with a very large monument of the names of the MS Estonia disaster, when a ferry ship carrying 989 people sank in the Baltic sea. 853 people died in the early morning hours of September 22nd, 1994. Of those, 650 are believed to have gone down inside the ship, having never made it off (about a third of the others who did make it off died of hypothermia). Many of the families of the victims wanted the bodies recovered for a land burial, but the cost of salvaging the ferry and the implications of removing decaying bodies from the sea meant that they came up with a different alternative. The entire ship was buried at sea under concrete, and there is a moratorium preventing any sort of diving around the ship, although that only applies to the citizens of the countries that signed that treaty, those being Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and the UK. This was the deadliest shipwreck to have happened in Europe during peacetime, and like the Titanic disaster, it led to changes in safety and operations on ferries worldwide. I’m glad I didn’t know this story as I took the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, as it was clear that the waves were quite rough with all the moaning, groaning, and shaking the ferry was doing throughout the night (I didn’t get a good night’s sleep).

Although I did not know what kind of cemetery this was when I first entered it, it became clear that it had to deal with people who worked at sea, or died at sea, as there were many anchors and other marine imagery that showed up on gravestones, or as monuments themselves. The cemetery is small but there are over 1300 burial sites within it.

Quality of Monuments: Most of the monuments are simple gravestones, but a lot of them have anchors or other marine imagery inscribed on them. The large monument to the Estonia disaster is quite moving, with all the names inscribed on the walls.

Cemetery Grounds: It’s a small cemetery, less than a hectare, and it is part of a hill with steps, but it’s nothing too strenuous.

Visitors: There were a few people wandering about when I was here.

Photographer Notes: It may be particularly interesting to those interested in naval themes.


Cemetery: Galärvarvskyrkogården

Inaugurated: 1742?

LocationDjurgården path 28 115 21 Stockholm. It’s in the park behind the Vasa and Nordic Museums.

Hours: 09:00-17:00 Monday to Friday only