The Woodland Chapel is the cemetery’s first and smallest chapel. It was designed by Gunnar Asplund and inaugurated in 1920.
Initially, Asplund designed a stone church, but he was told that it would be too expensive and he needed to rethink. As luck would have it, Asplund had recently been to a wedding in Denmark and visited the Liselund estate on the island of Møn. The estate and its surroundings fascinated him and gave him inspiration for the Woodland Chapel as it stands today – a simple wooden chapel surrounded by trees.
The chapel itself is square and inside there is a circular dome through which indirect light floods in. The portico is lined with twelve columns and on the roof above the entrance sits the chapel’s only decoration, Carl Milles’ little Angel of Death. At the time, the small sculpture was quite challenging – and much debated – because of the womanly figure opening her arms to welcome visitors.
The Woodland Chapel has been carefully thought out, down to the smallest detail, with many features and symbols. For example, the keyhole in the door is the eye of a skull, opening up for death. The ironwork gate also contains many Christian symbols.
A low concrete wall encircles the chapel area. Within the wall the woodland is dense and enclosing, and then it gradually opens out, gentling easing mourners from the ceremony back into their own lives. The design of the coffin vault is like an old root cellar, symbolising the departed’s return to the earth.
The altarpiece was painted by artist Gunnar Torhamn.