Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is Scandinavia's largest and most cosmopolitan city. It is steeped in history, having been the key gateway from Scandinavia to the rest of Europe for centuries, while reinventing itself as a modern metropolis and design mecca.
This article will provide you with several of central Copenhagen's top destinations to take in the history, culture and design of this incredible Scandinavian capital.
|The Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen|
Nyhavn Canal, which is Danish for "new harbor" was built in the 1670s as a gateway from the primary waterfront to Kongens Nytorv ("King's New Square"), the heart of the old city. It quickly became a fashionable address and is lined with colorful 17th and 18th century townhouses and mansions built by merchants. Today, Nyhavn is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. On the northern side, many of the townhouses have been converted into cafes and bars and, in warmer months, the area bustles with passersby, diners and students.
In the Winter, the center of Kongens Nytorv is turned into an ice skating rink. This giant public square is bordered by a number of important buildings. The Royal Danish Theatre (Det Kongelige Teatre) was built in 1874 and presents Ballet, Opera (until 2004), and classical concerts. Charlottenborg Palace was built in 1672 and now houses a number of cultural institutions. The Hotel D'Angleterre was opened in 1755 and has been at its current location on Kongens Nytorv since 1875. It is a five star hotel considered to be Copenhagen's most prestigious and opulent. Stop in for dinner or tea and perhaps hob knob with some of the hotel's famous guests. Magasin du Nord, with history stretching back to 1868, is Denmark's leading department store.
At Kongens Nytorv begins Stroget, Europe's longest pedestrian mall. Stroget is Copenhagen's premier shopping district, with flagship locations for Bang and Olufsen, Georg Jensen, Royal Copenahgen, Illums Bolighus, Holmegaard, and other Danish design icons. In addition to shopping, Stroget is lined with ornate, beautiful buildings, cafes, bars and restaurants, and historic squares and churches. Spend some time in Holbro Plads/ Amagertorv at Cafe Norden, enjoying a cappuccino or glass of wine while watching the over 250,000 people who stoll the street each day.
This island surrounded by canals just down from Holbro Plads, is the center of Danish politics. On the island are Christiansborg Slot, the home of Danish parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, the Supreme Court, and several reception rooms used by the Danish monarchy. It is the only building in the world that is home to all three of a nation's supreme powers. Also located on Slotsholmen are the Thorvaldsen Museum; the Borsen, the 17th century Danish stock exchange, known for its impressive dragon spire, made up of four intervowen dragon tails; and the modern Royal Danish Library, also known as the Black Diamond because of its striking modern architecture.
Danish National Museum
Near Slotsholmen is the Danish National Museum, which spans more than 14,000 years of Danish prehistory, as well as an impressive ethographic section that covers cultures from around the world, from traditional Scandinavian and Greenland culture to African and South American. Also impressive are the exhibits on Danish history and culture from 1400 to the present.
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
This art museum, founded by the son of the Carlsberg Brewery founder, centers around his collection of Mediterranean (Egyptian, Greek, Roman) antiquities. The museum also houses the most important collection of Rodin sculpture outside of France and an impressive collection of French impressionis and post-impressionist paintings, from Manet, Monet and Renior to van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec.
No visit to Copenhagen is complete without a stop at Tivoli Gardens. Opened in 1843, Tivoli is the second oldest amusement park in the world. The oldest, coincidentally, is located outside Copenhagen. The architecture gardens are certainly worth the entrance, but so are the cafes and rides located inside.
Tivoli borders the Radhuspladsen, or City Hall Square. Also located at Redhuspladsen is Copenhagen's City Hall, opened in 1905 and inspired by the City Hall in Siena, Italy. Above the entrance is a gold statue of Absalon, a medieval archbishop and Danish statesman. There are a number of other notable sculpture in City Hall Square, including the Dragon Fountain, the Lur Blowers, the Weather Girl and a sculpture of Danish author Hans Christian Anderssen.
Radhuspladsen is the other terminus of Stroget, from which one can easily stroll back to Nyhavn Canal.