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Denmark > Copenhagen (Kobenhavn) > Copenhagen travel guide

Copenhagen Travel Guide



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To many people Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, the world's most famous amusement park, is the key to Denmark. There, on 20 acres (8 hectares) in the heart of the capital, is something for everyone, old, young, rich, poor, serious, frivolous. There are restaurants and snack bars, concerts by symphony orchestras and performances by jazz groups and brass bands, ballet and pantomime, flea circuses and fun rides, play­grounds, paths on which to stroll under shady trees, and places to sit amid beautiful flowerbeds.

From May to mid-September thousands of Danes and visitors "tivolate"—as one happy visitor explained—in an atmosphere that is a mixture of lightness, color, and gaiety combined with orderliness, good taste, and superb organization. At night Tivoli be­comes a fairyland of twinkling lights and floodlit waters. Twice a week before closing time there is a display of fireworks that ends when the huge bell in the nearby City Hall tower strikes midnight.

About one fourth of the Danes live in Copenhagen and its suburbs. The city was founded in 1167 by Bishop Absalon on the east shore of Zealand across 0resund from Sweden. Its name means "merchant's har­bor," and since its founding, Copenhagen has been the center of Danish life, although it did not become the capital until 1445. It is a windswept city of slender, pointed spires, copper-green roofs, and domes topped with gold balls, coronets, and clocks; of old and new buildings on nar­row streets; and of a sparkling harbor alive with ships being built, being loaded and unloaded, and under sail.

Much of the character of Copenhagen was set by King Christian IV (1577-1648), who planned and built much of the city. Not only did he plan the unique Stock Exchange {B0rsen) building, but while it was being erected, it is said, he himself worked on its strange spire, which is formed by the entwined tails of four copper dragons that appear to be standing on their heads. It is the world's oldest market exchange building in con­tinuous use.

Christian also built churches, the Rosenborg Castle, which is now a great museum, and the Nyboder, a group of houses for men of the Royal Navy and their families, often called the first public housing project. Four succeeding kings continued building the city. About 1750 King Frederik V permitted four noblemen to build four palaces enclos­ing an octagonal plaza. These buildings, Amalienborg, are now the home of the Danish royal family.

Visitors to Copenhagen flock to the National Museum; to the Glyp-totek to see the collection of French art; and to the Thorvaldsen Museum to see the works of Denmark's great sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen (1768-1844). They also stroll through many parks, including the Langelinie, where, from a large boulder at the water's edge, a bronze statue of An­dersen's fairy-tale Little Mermaid watches the ships come and go.







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