I visited Skogskyrkogården, which, despite it being a relatively new 20th-century construction, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The buildings had different architectural styles— the Chapel of Resurrection had clean lines with a Greek column entrance, the Woodland Chapel blended in with the forest with its earthy colors and pyramid roof.
From the entrance, I walked up a hill into a grove of trees, a place of meditation. Then I walked for a long time on a gravel pathway (Seven Springs Way) that cut through a forest to the Resurrection Chapel. Graves were arranged in neat rows in the forest, and a soft light filtered through the trees. The intent is to reflect on nature as you contemplate life and death.
Near the Woodland Chapel was the grave of Greta Garbo. I had previously never heard of the famous actress, but her named cropped up everywhere on my trip. It turns out she was one of the foremost actresses of her generation. First, I saw her on the 100 kronor. Next, in one of the hotels we stayed at, we were assigned to the “Garbo room.” Pictures of her lined every wall. The hotel bed was a canopy bed that she had once used. And the largest portrait of all, of Greta’s confident, piercing gaze, was hung over the bed. When I first arrived at the hotel room, I found this shrine to her unsettling, and was unsurprised that no one had specifically requested this room. But then I got used to Greta staring through me and came to appreciate the room’s quirk. At Skogskyrkogården, her grave was a prominent circular plot with a wide berth of grass, her signature in gold carved into a red marble stone. The plot, isolated from the others, felt rather lonely.
Across the street of the entrance to Skogskyrkogården was another cemetery. Each plot was clinically labeled with a number and which maintenance group it was in. One grave was covered in flowers and stuffed toys. There was an etching of a young boy’s face, and the years showed he was only five.