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Copenhagen

Lynn and I have been east, west, and south of here but we haven’t ventured north too much. It’s cold way up there near the polar icecaps. But we were approaching the summer solstice so the days were long, very, very long, so this was a great time to head north to Copenhagen. It gets dark in Copenhagen around 11 p.m. and it starts getting light again about 3:30 a.m. That wreaks havoc with one’s sleep.

The center of Copenhagen is pretty small so it’s very walkable. We wandered first past Christiansborg  which is the home of the Danish Parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister. There’s a large sandy area at the back (or the front – who can tell?) which is the Riding Ground Complex and is available to the Royal Family. I can just imagine seeing the Queen prancing by on a horse. Not being an equestrian myself, it looked like a pretty small area to be taking a horse out for a ride but apparently it’s used because we did see some horses being groomed nearby.

Only a block or so away is BÝrsen, the former Danish Stock Exchange. It’s one of Copenhagen’s oldest and most beautiful buildings. It was built by King Christian IV in 1620 as a market place and in the 19th century it became a financial center so that Copenhagen could compete with Amsterdam. Today it’s no longer open to the public and is only used for special occasions, more special, apparently, than our visit to Copenhagen.

As we continued up the street a few more blocks, we came to Amalienborg  which is the winter home of the Danish royal family. It consists of four buildings, all identical and all facing a central courtyard which is open to the public. At one time, all four buildings were used as homes, but the kids must have moved out because now two of them are museums. It’s hard to tell which one of the two homes is occupied by the queen. There’s statue in the center of King Frederik V. From that point looking east across Inderhavnen, the harbor, one sees the Opera House on the other side. In the other direction is a large church, Frederikskirken, designed by Frederik V. Frederikskirken is an impressive building having one of the largest domes in Europe (inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome). Construction began in 1749 and took 150 years to complete. That is not an excessive amount of time to build a church in Europe as Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, started in 1882 and still under construction, will take longer than that.

We found a small statue built right next to that water. This is the Little Mermaid. The story was written by Hans Christian Andersen  and was adapted into a movie by Disney. The statue has been there since about 1913 but there’s a little known secret that some time ago, she had a head and arm transplant. It seems that some cad removed her head and arm for his own use but the original specifications for the statue still existed so the head and arm were replaced.

Right in the center of central Copenhagen is something called Kongens Have which I think is King’s Park. It’s about 1,500 feet on all sides. On the grounds of the park is Rosenborg Castle  which was originally King Christian IV’s summer residence and is now a museum housing the crown jewels and telling a whole lot about Danish history. According to our book, this castle was inspired by the Renaissance architecture in the Netherlands. Looking at it, it does look kind of "Dutch" to me but then again, with what I know of Renaissance Dutch architecture, I’m easily swayed!

There’s a street called Nyhaven that was a lot of fun to hang around and comes with a lot of history. A canal was built down the center of this street near the beginning of the 18th century to attract trade. While it may have done that, it also attracted all the sailors and for a long time it was a flourishing red-light district. In the 1970s a transformation occurred. There are brightly colored townhouses, restaurants, bars, and shops on both sides. There are three houses on this street where H.C. Andersen lived for a total of 25 years, at one alone for 19 years. This made me wonder. Since presumably he lived there before the 1970s transformation, he lived there when it was a red-light sailor’s paradise. What don’t we know about this dude?

Finally, there is Tivoli Gardens. When Tivoli opened in 1843, it was across from City Hall which was at the edge of town. Tivoli was built out in the boonies in a vacant area. Today, Copenhagen has grown up around it and it’s right in the middle of everything. It has a few rides like a roller coaster, a Ferris wheel and other things. But it’s a beautiful area to stroll through, have dinner at, and even catch a concert some of which are free with the price of admission to the park. If you read the piece about Adelaide, you may remember that we just missed Pat Metheny while we were there. In Copenhagen, we were just ahead of him. One of these days, we’ll get to see him.

There are some great pictures of Copenhagen here. See my pictures of Copenhagen.

See videos from Copenhagen

 

© 2008 Rick Wexler   last updated February 21, 2008