What’s Doing in Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

By Jonathan Spira on 11 March 2016
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For many, their first introduction to Copenhagen is the 1952 Danny Kaye movie about Danish poet and storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. The song “Wonderful Copenhagen” still sticks in people’s minds a half century later and, along with the real Hans Christian Andersen’s many tales, which include “The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen,” has made the city a popular choice for travelers.

To many visitors Copenhagen is a fairy tale come alive, particularly in spring, which is just around the corner.


Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world, is a mandatory stop for visitors to the city. It is the true embodiment of a Danish fairy tale with a parade of boy soldiers in guardsmen’s uniforms, a pantomime theater, arcades, an aquarium, numerous stages and concert halls, and a surfeit of places to eat and drink. Come nightfall, it is illuminated by strings of over 120,000 light bulbs and fireworks presentations. Of course, true to its name, there are gardens with extravagant floral arrangements, including tulips in the spring.

Danish furniture is on display at the Designmuseum Danmark.

Danish furniture is on display at the Designmuseum Danmark.

Another mandatory stop is the Rundetaarn, or Round Tower, a cylindrical brick structure located in the center of the city. It was erected as an astronomical observatory in the 17th century under the reign of Christian IV and is attached to the Trinitatis Church complex. Go up the spiral ramp to the small, domed observatory on the roof with a surrounding deck for excellent views of the city. Located above the church, and accessible by the tower’s spiral ramp, are the Library Hall, a venue for concerts and exhibitions, and the Bell-Ringers Loft, with a small display of historical artifacts including a wax seal belonging to Christian IV. A piece of the bomb that was dropped on the Library Hall during the battle of Copenhagen in 1807 is also on display.

One of my favorite places to visit (although I found it was incredibly overheated during my visit this past winter) is the Designmuseum Danmark, which has rotating exhibits focusing on Danish design ranging from furniture, art, and porcelain to industrial items ranging from motorcycles to televisions and typewriters.

As you walk around the city, stop and take note of its ornate churches. Frederik’s Church, also known as the Marble Church, is just west of Amalienborg and was modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.   The Church of our Savior, a Baroque-style structure, is famous for its corkscrew spire with an external winding staircase that allows visitors to climb to the top. Its carillon features 48 bronze bells with a musical range of four octaves.

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