With so much history in Europe, and such famous cities as Paris, Venice and so on, many great cities often get overlooked. Copenhagen is just one such city, and it deserves a lot more attention than it gets. Below are just ten of many reasons why.
10. Tivoli Gardens
Located right in the centre of Copenhagen, Tivoli Gardens is the second-oldest active amusement park in the world. Tivoli Gardens opened on August 17th in 1843, making it 170 years old this year. With around 4 million visitors a year, it is the 4th most visited amusement park in Europe. One of its most famous attractions is Rutschebanen, a wooden roller coaster built in 1914 that requires an operator to brake as it goes downhill, to prevent it from going too fast.
9. Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace was the home to the Danish Royal family until a fire in 1794. It still holds much important use, being home to the Danish Parliament, the department of the Prime Minister, and the Supreme Court. Another fire broke out in 1992, and it wasn’t until 1997 that repairs were completed. It is now referred to as the Third Christianborg Palace, because of the two fires. The stables from the original palace still remain, overlooking the main courtyard, which is used for royal horse shows.
8. Amalienborg Palace
Despite being named in the singular, Amalienborg Palace is actually four palaces, built facing one another around a square, to accommodate the different noble families during the mid-18th century. It became the primary house of residence for the royal family in Denmark in 1794, after the fires in Christiansborg Palace. The reigning monarch can choose any of the 4 palaces to be their residence.
7. Danish National Museum
Now, of course, every city has its own museums, but this one has some amazing attractions. It has some great Viking artifacts, fossils and all the usual museum stuff, but it also has some much rarer finds. For one, it has some extremely well-preserved bog bodies that are thousands of years old. They are in glass cases so they can be viewed up close, and really need to be seen to be believed. Oh, and the museum also houses the remains of a “mermaid skeleton,” with a plaque detailing where and when it was found. The tour guides also go into more detail about this “unique find.”
6. World’s Best Restaurant
Noma has won the title of World’s Best Restaurant for 3 years running now. This, unsurprisingly, also makes it one of the most expensive. It receives up to 100,000 reservation inquiries a month and, with a waiting list of over 1,000 people, you may want to call ahead to get a table. The restaurant itself provides everything you would expect: top-notch chefs, quality ingredients, and a sommelier to select a wine perfect on your meal. But it also has a lot more than you’d expect. Unless, of course, you expected to pay $306 for a salad with live ants as one of its ingredients.
5. The Little Mermaid
Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” (bet you didn’t see that coming,) this statue was unveiled in 1913. Since then, she has had a pretty exciting life for an inanimate object. She’s been pushed off her rock, had her arm ripped off, and been decapitated three times. In a less morbid story, she took a trip to Shanghai in 2010, for display at the World Expo. To make up for the fact that she wasn’t there for a period of time, Copenhagen ran a live stream of the statue, and put up a large screen where she normally sits. However, the screen was facing out into the water, meaning only those on tour boats could see it.
4. Carlsberg Museum
Carlsberg was founded by J.C. Jacobsen in 1847; by 1875, he had set up the Carlsberg Laboratory, which practiced the world’s first scientific approach to brewing. With the money he earned from Carlsberg, Jacobsen gradually built up an enormous art collection over the years, which is now the main collection for the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum.
Perhaps the brewery’s most famous features are its matching elephant statues, which are enormous and have swastikas on their sides. Lest you feel like boycotting his beer because of this, Jacobsen had adopted the swastika as a symbol for Carlsberg. At the time, “swastika” was Sanskrit for “good,” and the Nazis were decades away from adopting and butchering it for their own gains. Carlsberg actually stopped using it in 1945, as did pretty much the entire civilized world.
3. Marble Church
Located right beside the Amalienborg Palace, this church is famous not only for its architecture, which is impressive enough on its own, but also for the long period of time when it lay incomplete. The first foundation stone was laid on October 30th, 1749. Progress was extremely slow, due to the high costs of construction, followed by the death of the architect in 1754 and death of King Frederik (who commissioned it) in 1766. Frederik’s son, King Christian VII, suspended the project “until further notice;” in this case, “further notice” meant over 100 years later.
In 1874, successful banker and financier C.F. Tietgen stepped in and, a short 20 years later, the project was finished. Overall, it took just short of 145 years to scratch this project off of Copenhagen’s to-do list.
2. Opera House
Located right across the river from Amalienborg Palace, this opera house can seat up to 1,400 people, with room for a 110-person orchestra. Opening in 2005, it was donated by Mr. McKinney Moller, the richest man in Denmark. However, since he was funding the whole thing himself, he demanded a lot of artistic control, and had many disputes with the architect. Overall, it cost $442 million to build, which includes the cost of the 105,000 sheets of 24-carat gold that lines the ceiling of the auditorium.
The architect has gone on record as saying he is not happy with the finished product. But many people think he subtly got his revenge; when viewed from the front, one can clearly see three yellow lights against a red wall. Many believe this is because this is the design for the flag of Christiania, a place that Mr. McKinney Moller despises.
At less than 1 square mile, Christiania is one of the smallest countries in the world. Some may say that it’s cheating to include this on a list about Copenhagen, as technically it isn’t Copenhagen. Or at least not all of it. Christiania was founded in 1971 when a group of, let’s call them “free spirits,” moved into an unused military base and set up camp. At first nobody cared but, in the years that followed, there were some bumps in the road, revolving mainly around the crime generated by Christiania’s liberal use of hard drugs.
An agreement was reached, and hard drugs are no longer freely available in Christiania. While anyone can walk in and out freely, there is a long waiting list to move there, and you need to be recommended by residents before the entire town decides whether or not to let you in. While living there, no property belongs to you, but is lent to you by the community, and you can be evicted if you cause trouble. When you die, the community decides who gets your house, not you.
Christiania is definitely a great place to visit; just be aware that there is drug use, and people (including you) can pee, make graffiti, and do almost anything else they want, wherever they want. Except take photos around the drugs. They’re weird like that.