One of the firs things that I noticed when I arrived in Copenhagen is how they write the city name on tourist posters. They change how the capitalisation so it is written cOPENhagen, and open is not a bad way to describe the city.
Copenhagen is a very open and welcoming city, especially for those who speak English. The people in stores and cafes speak English and are willing to help. There are other European cities where this is not so much the case, and as a traveller, it does make things a lot easier.
Getting Around Copenhagen
There are some tour options in the city, such as the Hop On Hop Off bus, or other more specific tours. However, I choose to walk since the city is somewhat small and compact with many sights quite close together. I find the idea of walking to explore an excellent idea since it can help you to see a little more at times. Instead of just whizzing by on a bus and trying to see something out the window. It also gives you the opportunity to decide if you want to go a slightly different way.
Even though I did not take the Hop On Hop Off bus, I still made use of the route map as a rough version for my walk. The area I started in is known as Nyhavn and is one of the quintessential images often used for Copenhagen. The string of brightly painted houses with many boats moored along the canal sets the scene.
The walk along the Copenhagen waterfront is quite nice, and there are some interesting sights along the river. The first I wanted to visit is Amalienborg Castle, which is the home of the Danish Royal Family. My timing was reasonably good, arriving at just the right time to witness the changing of the guard. The changing of the guard takes place on a daily basis at 12 midday.
Not far from Amalienborg Castle, is a rather beautiful building. It is a church by the name of Frederick’s Church and also commonly know as the Marble Church. The construction of this church started around 1749. However, progress slowed dramatically, and it was left in ruin for some time before finally being completed in 1894. The outside of the church is very striking, with a dome that could be inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The interior is quite simple, but still rather impressive due to the size of the building.
The Little Mermaid
Further along the waterfront, there is a rather iconic statue in Copenhagen. The Little Mermaid sits on a rock just on the edge of the water. Even if you are not familiar with the statue, there is a good chance you will have heard the fairy tale which inspired the statue. The Little Mermaid was original written in 1837 as a ballet by Hans Christian Andersen and later adapted to an animated musical film by Disney. The statue of the Little Mermaid itself was unveiled in 1913 and has been in the same position for almost a century.
If you have ever looked at a map of Copenhagen, you might have noticed a particular feature near the mouth of the river. Kastellet shows as a star formation on the map and is North Europe’s finest and best-preserved fortification.
The interior fortress today belongs to Danish Defence and is used as a modern military establishment. However, it is possible to walk through and visit a couple of interesting places within the fortress. One fascinating feature on one of the rear embankments is a windmill, which is pictured below.
St Alban’s Anglican Church
I had noticed the spire of a church while walking through Kastellet and it turned out to not be far from the exit. The church is St Alban’s Anglican Church, with a quick construction between 1885 and 1887 in the Gothic Revival Style. Constructed for the growing English congregation in Copenhagen and is often referred to as “The English Church” by locals.
In some ways, it is the most aesthetically pleasing church I have visited, but maybe it is the building style that forms this impression. Inside the church is quite beautiful, with many stained glass windows, which are currently in the process of being repaired and restored.
The Gefion Fountain
A short walk from St Alban’s is a fascinating fountain. The Gefion Fountain was completed in 1908 and features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the legendary Norse Goddess. The original location for the fountain was to be near the Town Square and City Hall. However, that eventually changed to the current location, which seems much better.
Our Saviours Church
A short ferry ride later I was on the southern side of the river, arriving not far from the Copenhagen Opera House. I set out and walked past Christiania, which is a sizeable hippy commune in Copenhagen. My destination was Our Saviours Church in Christianshavn.
When you look at Our Saviours Church from the outside, it is a rather drab and ordinary brick building. The only exception is the conical spire on top, which is interesting.
I found two very interesting features to Our Saviours Church. The first is the conical spire above; it turns out the rings around the spire are the handrails for a staircase. It is possible for a small fee to walk the stairs to within a metre or two from the highest point of the spire. In total there are around 400 steps to reach a point of around 90 metres above the ground, giving a great view over Copenhagen.
The second rather interesting feature of Our Saviours Church is the organ. I cannot be certain, but I believe it is the largest organ by physical size I have seen. The organ was built between 1698 and 1700 and is built into the wall. The organ appears to be resting on the back of two elephants with an intricately carved wood facade.
Inner City Beach
One interesting thing I found while walking Copenhagen is the ingenious solution to not having a beach in the city. You take a floating pontoon add some sand and a few beach chairs and problem solved.
On the western edge of the city of Copenhagen, you will find a series of five large lakes. In earlier days of the city, these lakes were a single waterway which formed a part of the cities fortifications. While at another time they were part of the cities water supply, acting as a reservoir. Today though they are a protected area serving more of a recreational purpose, with walking/running tracks encircling them.
A Great City
Copenhagen is a great city to visit and explore. Even with its small size, there is a lot of interesting landmarks and places to visit. But I think to some extent the small size is a part of the attraction. I can say for sure Copenhagen will be a city I am going to return in the future.