I was to write about a country a visited quite some time ago as it feels really nice to recollect old memories and also realise at the same time how fast time goes by.
I visited Copenhagen in the summer of 2011 over a long weekend, much before I knew about the concept of Hygge or even the word. The weather was generally nice though it was quite cloudy on one of the days. But as with any travel, you just have to ignore the weather and enjoy the day as it comes, the sights, food, history, culture and people around you. I would definitely love to revisit Copenhagen again someday, as with most places I have visited, but I find the Scandinavian countries very easy going and relaxing. Along with the city there is also so much to enjoy in its natural surroundings.
Along with Copenhagen I also visited Malmo, in Sweden, across the famous Oresund Bridge for a day. I will write about Malmo sometime in the future and focus this travel story about my short stay at Copenhagen and some of the sights I enjoyed.
I started my first day by strolling in the Nyhavn neighbourhood. Nyhavn is a waterfront lined by colourful 17th and 18th century townhouses. This is also an entertainment district of Copenhagen and has many bars, cafes and restaurants. Many historical wooden ships can be seen in the harbour area.
The boat traverses through the canals and when it passes under the bridges these are so low that you can literally touch the bottom of the bridges. Based on your height it is prudent to be seated during these boat trips. Some of the best views of the city and its architectural landscape can be enjoyed during these boat trips.
Opera House (Operaen)
Located on the island of Holmen in central Copenhagen. is the Copenhagen Opera House is the national opera house of Denmark, and one of the most modern opera houses in the world. The Opera House accommodates 1700 people and the foyer is decorated with beautiful sculptures.
The Black Diamond (Den Sorte Diamant)
The shiny Black Diamond building is a modern extension of the Royal Danish Library. The name of the building comes from its black granite shiny cladding and angular edges. It was completed in 1999 along Copenhagen’s waterfront.
The Royal Danish Playhouse (Skuespilhuset)
On the harbour front is the dark brown building of the Royal Danish Playhouse, a theatre whose exterior is encased with glass. Around 40 percent of the building is over the water. The walkway around the building creates a floating effect. It has 3 halls with a total capacity to accommodate 1000 people.
Little Mermaid (Den lille Havfrue)
Copenhagen straightaway reminds us about its famous icon, the Little Mermaid, a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen. The sculpture is sitting on a rock by the waterside. It is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name.
I did enjoy a sight of the mermaid during a harbour cruise but I only saw her from behind as I was on the boat. Copenhagen’s famous symbol is actually quite small in size and there are countless people around her taking photographs. Perhaps next time I visit the city I will have a chance to see her from the front.
But I did catch a glimpse of one of her replicas at the Copenhagen airport during departure, where she was quietly sat in a corner with no crowds around her. I am sharing some photos of that mermaid as there were hardly any people around it.
When I visited Walt Disney World in Florida ages ago, I learnt that Walt Disney was inspired by the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. So I couldn’t miss visiting this place during my trip. Tivoli Gardens is named after Jardins de Tivoli in Paris and was an idea of Georg Carstensen.
The Danish King Christian VIII granted Georg Carstensen around 15 acres of land to create an amusement park. Georg Carstensen convinced the king that people’s political thoughts can be kept away when they are busy with amusements.
Georg Carstensen was brought up in the middle east, so you’ll find Arabic influence in some of the building in the park. There are also stages where live performances are held, restaurants, carousels and a roller coaster of course. Rides in Tivoli Gardens include The Dragon, The Demon and the world’s tallest carousel The Starflyer.
The aquarium within Tivoli Gardens is the longest salt water aquarium in Denmark and has over 500 varieties of fish. The Pantomine Theatre stage in an exotic Chinese style was built in 1874. The curtain is like an open peacocks’ tail. You can stand and watch some classic mime shows here.
During evening time Tivoli looks magical with sparkling fairy lights and Chinese lanterns. There is also a son-et-lumiere show and display of fireworks.
Rosenborg Castle (Rosenborg Slot)
Rosenborg Castle was built in 1606 as a summer house by Christian IV in the quiet countryside surrounded by the vast gardens of the Kings Gardens (Kongens Have). It is built in Dutch Renaissance style.
The castle is open to public and there are displays from the Royal Collections. There are 24 rooms on its 3 floors and most of these rooms still have their Renaissance decor but some have been decorated by later kings. The Danish Crown jewels and the Throne Chair are also kept in the castle.
Set around the octagonal area is the stately complex of four identical classical palaces with rococo interiors where the royal family has lived since 1794. Amalienborg is named after Queen Sophie Amalie who built a palace in the 17th century. The royal family bought the palaces from the original owners of four noble families, after the Christiansborg Palace was burned down.
When the monarch is in residence the Danish Royal Life Guards march from Rosenborg Castle at 11.30 am daily through the streets of Copenhagen and there is changing of the guard in front of Amalienborg at midday.
The Round Tower (Rundetarm)
The Round Tower was built by Christian IV in 1642 as an observatory. The 34.8 meter high tower is open to public and to go up you can use the internal cobbled spiral ramp. Exhibitions and classical concerts are also held in the Round Tower. Hans Christian Andersen spent lot of time in the library which is now used as an exhibition space.
Other areas of Copenhagen I visited are the Christianshavn neighbourhood which also known as ‘Little Amsterdam’ as the canals were built in Dutch style. Christianshavn was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen.
King’s New Square (Kongens Nytorv)
Christian V rebuilt the King’s New Square in 1670. The Equestrian statue of Christian V stands in the middle of square dressed as a Roman Emperor.
Copenhagen’s main shopping street in Kongens Nytorv is also a famous for its stores from designer to bargain stores and big departmental stores, like Magasin du Nord. Royal Copenhagen is famous for its porcelain products. The shop itself is like a museum. There are other shops of famous Danish design companies like Bang & Olufsen for their audio-visual equipments, Bodum for stylish kitchen ware, Georg Jensen for silverware to name a few.
There is an Amber Museum in a house from 1606 in Nyhavn. The Amber Museum displays a collection of Denmark’s national gem amber which also known as Nordic Gold. There is also a shop selling amber jewellery in the museum.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city to visit. My stay was short no doubt but I still remember most of the places vividly and thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
- Copenhagen Card is quite useful to explore the city. You can purchase it online at the airport arrivals.
- Line M2 of the Copenhagen Metro links the airport with the city centre in around 15 minutes. There are also buses and train to the central station.
- Kongens Have (King’s Garden) is a beautiful place to explore on a day with nice weather next to Rosenborg Slot.
- Denmark’s largest museum Nationalmuseet is a must visit if you enjoy museums to explore its vast collection.
- Copenhagen’s driverless metro trains are a good way to explore the city and connects with other train services.
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