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Old St. Matthew's Churchyard

  • Alter St.-Matthäus Kirchhof
  • 25. Todestag von Rio Reiser

    The grave of Rio Reiser in the Old St. Matthew's Churchyard in Schöneberg.

  • St-Matthäus-Kirchhof in Berlin

The Old St. Matthew's Churchyard (Alter St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof) in Schöneberg is one of the most historically significant cemeteries in Berlin. It houses the graves of many prominent historical figures, including Virchow and the Brothers Grimm.

Until the development of the churchyard grounds on a hillside of the former village of Alt-Schöneberg, the St. Matthew's parish, formerly one of the wealthiest in Berlin, buried its dead in the churchyards of the mother parish in Kreuzberg. The land was acquired cheaply since its slope meant it was not very suitable for agricultural use and its proximity to two railroad lines made it unattractive for housing development. As late as 1855, when the grounds were enclosed and a gravedigger's house was built, the cemetery could be seen from the Tiergarten neighborhood.

Expansion of the Old St. Matthew's Churchyard

In accordance with the financial possibilities of the bourgeoisie, not only numerous free-standing grave monuments were erected, but also many wall graves and mausoleums as family graves. In 1863 the cemetery had to be extended for the first time, additional enlargements took place in 1866 and 1884. From 1890 only parishioners were buried and a second cemetery was established at Priesterweg, which, however, never reached the popularity of the Old St. Matthew's Churchyard.

Devastation during the Nazi Era

Urban planning during the time of National Socialism has left its traces on the Old St. Matthew's Churchyard. In 1938-39, the churchyard's northern third was dug up and the graves were leveled or reburied. The complete abolition of the cemetery, planned for 1941, was forestalled by World War II, in the course of which numerous graves were destroyed nevertheless.

Prominent Graves in St. Matthew's Churchyard

Until the end of the 1960s, the demolition mentality of the post-war period dominated urban planning in Berlin, but a rethink in the direction of preservation and restoration began in the mid-1970s. Since then, more than 50 graves of prominent personalities such as Rudolf Virchow, Alfred Messel, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm or Heinrich von Treitschke have been recognized as honorary gravesites. The cemetery chapel, built between 1906 and 1909, was restored in 1987.


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Last edited: 25 August 2023