Around Royal Copenhagen

Let's begin our tour of Royal Copenhagen at Slotsholmen. After we went our own way in the morning (Astrid to modern glass, me to modern metro), we met up at Christianshavn Metro Station and walked across this bridge to Slotsholmen - the castle islet.

Slotsholmen is a small island within Copenhagen Harbour.  It was home to the city’s first castle in 1166 where Christiansborg Palace now stands, which is the home of the Danish Parliament.  The island is basically the government centre, with courts, state rooms, offices, and several museums.  We didn’t  have time (or interest, to be honest) to visit the parliament or the state rooms, and much of those buildings appeared to be under scaffolding.  We did, however, look specifically for two buildings on the island.

Borsen, also known as Christian IV's Stock Exchange, was completed in 1640 and was the home of the Danish stock market until 1974.

This was Astrid's favourite part of the building, and the island - the "Dragon Spire" that is the tails of four dragons twined together, which reaches about 180 feet into the sky.

The other building we were particularly looking for was the Danish Jewish Museum.  Now, I have to admit perhaps being a bit naughty here, as I had no intention of visiting the museum.  I had read that Copenhagen had a Jewish Museum that was done by Daniel Libeskind.  Now, as may recall, we’ve seen Libeskind buildings in several cities; and I’m more than a little sick of funky pyramids and ridiculous shapes in his buildings, and his repetitive Jewish museums (see this from Berlin, and I found a similar one in San Francisco that I had intended to blog about but forgot!).  So, I intended to find a standard Libeskind and grab a picture to post here and complain about him…but it wasn’t quite as expected.

This is the entry area for the Danish Jewish Museum, which is attached to the Royal Library's old building (more on that below) inside the library's old Galley House (which was actually the Royal Boat House of Christian IV from the 1600s). You can find images online that show the inside with some funky pyramids, but I do respect that he seems to have worked within the site and doesn't overwhelm the surroundings.

This museum is on the side of the Royal Library’s original building, a 1906 creation.  The blending of this classic building with the Black Diamond (shown in the waterfront post) was an interesting challenge for the architects.  In a peaceful square in front of the building is the Royal Library Garden, which was fairly simple but offered a nice spot to sit for a moment and enjoy the setting.  This area was originally a naval harbour before being filled in 1867 and designed by landscape architects in 1920.

This is the classical library building - makes me think of the Ivy League (and not just because of the ivy!).

This cool water sculpture actually spouts out cascades of water on the hour and was added to this historic location when the Black Diamond building was added to the library (although it is out of view of the garden).

The best part of the garden was this little house for the ducks in the basin!

We also had a quick walk through Frederiksstaden, home to Amalienborg Palace.  This area is just north of Nyhavn, parallel to the waterfront.  The palace is the winter home of the Danish royal family and consists of four identical buildings in the Rococo style dating to 1760 that surround an octagonal courtyard.

One of the four palaces on the corners on the courtyard/square at Amalienborg. Despite being identical, the four buildings are have their own names - each is named for a different king (Christian VII, VIII, IX and Frederick VIII).

This is also where the changing of the Danish Royal Life Guard occurs. Here I "posed" with two guards, who were sweating profusely in the warm sun. I'm not considering any sort of career change (and the Danes are probably happy about that too!).

My favourite part of Amalienborg was this statue in the middle of the courtyard. For quite a grand location, it looked pretty silly with the scaffolding. It is a French-made statue of Frederick V, finished in 1771 after his death. Being in the centre, the statue is aligned with not only the surrounding palaces but also the Marble Church and the Opera House across the harbour, which is kind of cool.

On our last day we headed out to Frederiksberg, just west of the city centre and surrounded by parts of Copenhagen but has remained an independent city. We had brunch at Cafe Obelix, and then enjoyed a stroll through the park. There is a palace built on a hill, but we didn’t have time for a tour. Instead we enjoyed the magnificent grounds and parkland.

Looking down the hill that leads up to the palace. It was quite steep!

That is the most perfectly shaped tree I have ever seen. It looks a little painful, actually!


This was a great scene, because the flowers in the foreground are very similar in color to the building - that warm orange that I've come to think of as the epitome of Scandinavian exteriors!


Astrid wanted to go for a boatride, but I told her she would have to do the rowing.


Posted on 03/09/2011, in Castles & Cathedrals, travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Alex,

    I was in Copenhagen last month. It rained every day we were there. It is nice to see some of the sights in the sun. Is the elephant walk still going on?

    • Sarah,
      Come to think of it, I think I did see a couple of elephants around in some fashion, but didn’t happen to notice what it was about. I’d be curious to hear what your overall impression of Copenhagen was. We’ve realized that, although we say we didn’t really like it too much, we have made all these blog posts, so I guess it wasn’t really too bad!

  2. I liked it. We spent a few days near the train station, which was sleazy and touristy and generally not great. Then we took the train and bus to Billund to go to Legoland. The train and bus rides in and of themselves were adventures. It was fascinating to realize that once you leave Copenhagen the rest of Denmark is farms, forests and really small towns. And the kids loved Legoland. Then we returned to Copenhagen and stays at a bed and breakfast near Rosenborg Castle. We liked that neighborhood much better. There were a lot of great organic, localvore restaurants and the castle grounds were beautiful.

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