Denmark . . . land of the Vikings. These fair-skinned warriors came from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, and their ancestors who began the city of Copenhagen were determined to create a city that would stand the test of time. Those who visit Copenhagen will see it in a variety of ways; some will see many parallels with a modern city of America, and others will notice the age of its monuments and the attention to historical detail. Copenhagen is a huge part of Denmark’s ancient history. The city’s name means “merchant’s harbor,” attesting to the seagoing past of this illustrious city.
Copenhagen perhaps would not have existed if a medieval fortification would not have been built here in the mid 12th century. Despite these humble beginnings, Copenhagen grew into the massive city that is now a huge part of Denmark’s tourist industry. Surprisingly, it is located on two islands (Zealand and part of Amager) and is not a “landed” city. The strait of Oresund runs between the city and Sweden; on a clear day, you might imagine that you are able to see the neighborhood country while standing on the shore.
No European city seems quite complete without its own castle, or in Copenhagen’s case, a few castles. Rosenborg Castle was begun in the 17th century by Denmark’s King Christian and was not harmed by the fire and warfare that destroyed the main city. As a result, the castle has not changed the appearance that it had during its early days and is a monument to good fortune and the opulence of Denmark’s royalty. Once inside the castle, you will find that all of the rooms are named for one of Denmark’s past monarchs and each part of the castle holds its own treasures. Just some of the things you can see include the king’s and queen’s separate living quarters, a dining hall, and wonderful decor such as tapestries and paintings.
Check informational brochures to see if and when Amalienborg Castle will be open during your visit. Amalienborg is still used as the home of Denmark’s royalty and is a beautiful architectural achievement. The facade is huge and covered with ornate walkways and columns; think Colonial Williamsburg-type buildings and you’ll have a good idea of the opulence of Amalienborg. If you are lucky enough to be at the castle in the middle of the day, check out the changing of the guard at noon. This is a daily event.
No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a visit to the city’s national museum. It is always good to understand the history and the full importance of the places you will be seeing. The exhibits include huge collections of paintings and antiques. If you are interested in art and culture, spend at least half a day here soaking up the history of this grand city, and perhaps gaining a new appreciation of artistic design.
Do you have any idea what a “botanisk have” is? It’s a Botanical Garden located at the University of Copenhagen. It is home to countless arrays of plants and provides a beautiful natural setting. Small parts of the old walls that once stood here can be found throughout the gardens, mixing the old with the new. You probably would not expect to see a cactus in Copenhagen, but you can that species here as well! The Botanical Garden is a great experience for flower enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. It should be noted that most, but not all exhibits are available to visitors, so find out what will be on the agenda when you visit.
For a unique religious experience, visit the Marble Church. Like many grand churches and cathedrals of Europe, this church wasn’t finished at one time, but was gradually worked on over the years. Marble Church wasn’t actually completed until the late 19th century, but visitors will attest that it was worth the wait! The first builders of the Marble Church (Frederikskirke) wanted to give Rome’s St. Peter’s Cathedral a run for its money, but due to the long time it took to complete the building, this was a dream not quickly realized. Good hikers can climb almost 300 steps and find the church’s balcony; it’s a long haul, but the view of the city will be well worth the exertion.