Kongens Nytorv to Langelinie
Start: Kongens Nytorv.
Finish: Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid).
Time: 1 1/2 hours.
Best Time: Any sunny day.
Worst Times: Rush hours (weekdays 7:30-9am and 5-6:30pm).
Although Nyhavn, once a boisterous sailors' quarter, has quieted down, it's still a charming part of old Copenhagen, with its 1673 canal and 18th-century houses.
1. Kongens Nytorv
The "King's New Market" dates from 1680. It's the home of Magasin, the biggest department store in the capital, plus an equestrian statue of Christian IV.
On the northeast side of the square is:
2. Thott's Mansion
Completed in 1685 for a Danish naval hero and restored in 1760, it now houses the French Embassy. Between Bredgade and Store Strandstræde, a little street angling to the right near Nyhavn, is Kanneworff House, a beautifully preserved private home that dates from 1782. On the west side of the square, at no. 34, is the landmark Hotel d'Angleterre. Also here is an old anchor memorializing the Danish seamen who died in World War II.
On the southeast side of the square is:
3. The Royal Theater
Founded in 1748, the theater presents ballet, opera, and plays. Statues of famous Danish dramatists are out front. The present theater, constructed in 1874, has a neo-Renaissance style.
With your back to the Hotel d'Angleterre, walk toward the water along:
Once filled with maritime businesses and seamen's bars and lodgings, Nyhavn is now "restaurant row." First, walk along its north (left) side. In the summer, cafe tables border the canal, giving it a festive atmosphere. Beautiful old homes, antiques shops, and more restaurants line the southern bank. Nyhavn was the home of Hans Christian Andersen at various times. He lived at no. 20, where he wrote his first fairy tales, in 1835, and at no. 67 from 1845 to 1864. He spent the last 2 years of his life at no. 18, where he died in 1875.
On the quieter (south) side of the canal, you can see:
5. Charlottenborg Palace
The style of the building, now the Danish Academy of Fine Arts, is pure baroque. The name comes from Queen Charlotte Amalie, who moved there in 1700.
Walk back to the harbor end of Nyhavn and turn left onto Kvæsthusgade, which will take you to:
6. Skt. Annæ Plads
Before the radical transformation of Copenhagen's harborfront, ferries used to depart from piers here for other destinations in Scandinavia, including Oslo. Now, however, the harborfront, and the back of this desirable long and narrow square, is the site of one of the biggest urban transformations in the city's history. The ferryboat terminals have moved to the commercial neighborhood of Nordhavn, and the city seems to be watching what will eventually emerge from this site, just a short walk from Nyhavn and its rows of restaurants. Many consulates, two hotels, and fine old buildings open onto it.
Walk inland along the plaza and turn right onto Amaliegade, which leads under a colonnade into symmetrical majesty of the cobble-covered Amalienborg Plads, site of:
7. Amalienborg Palace
In the square's center is a statue of Frederik V. When the queen is in residence, the changing of the guard takes place here daily at noon. The palace is the official residence of the queen and her French prince, but sections of it are open to visitors. The palace is actually composed of a quartet of nearly identical baroque mansions, each interconnected with galleries or subterranean passages, and each positioned at cardinal points of the same octagon-shaped square. The queen lives in a wing that's adjacent to the neoclassical colonnade.
Between the square and the harbor are the gardens of:
Among the most beautiful in Copenhagen, these gardens were laid out by Jean Delogne, who made lavish use of Danish granite and French limestone. The bronze pillars around the fountain were the work of Arnaldo Pomodoro, an Italian sculptor. From this point, look across the harbor at the most exciting and unusual recently constructed building in town, the Danish Opera House. With a soaring rooftop that evokes the reinforced concrete structures of Le Corbusier, and a design that evokes the outspread wings of a dove, it was created by Henning Larsen, "The House Architect of Copenhagen," with perfect acoustics and "chandeliers that might have been inspired by a show palace in Las Vegas." From your waterfront vantage, notice the way that the location of the Opera House repeats the rectilinear layout of Amalienborg Palace and the nearby Marble Church; the buildings each line up along the same lines, a brilliant combination of baroque and postmodern architecture combined into a coherent whole.
After viewing the waterfront gardens, walk away from the water, crossing Amalienborg Plads and emerging onto Frederiksgade. Continue along this street until you reach:
This church is often called the Marmorkirken (marble church). Construction began in 1740, but had to stop in 1770 because of the costs. The church wasn't completed until 1894 -- using Danish marble instead of more expensive Norwegian marble. The church was modeled on and intended to rival St. Peter's in Rome; indeed, it ended up with one of the largest church domes in Europe. Supported on a dozen towering piers, the dome has a diameter of 32m (105 ft.).
Facing the church, turn right and head north along Bredgade, passing at no. 62 the:
10. Medicinsk Museion (Medical History Museum)
The collection is gruesome, with fetuses, dissected heads, and the like.
Take A Break
Before you approach Den Lille Havfrue, consider tea and a snack at Café Lumskebugten, Esplanaden 21 (tel. 33-15-60-29). Dating from 1854, and permeated with a sense of the cozy, old-fashioned Denmark of long ago, this cafe offers a cold plate served throughout the afternoon. There are five specialties: beef tartare, fish cakes with mustard sauce, marinated salmon, baked cod, and shrimp.
Bredgade ends at Esplanaden, which opens onto Churchillparken, a green belt bordering the water. Turn right and walk along Esplanaden until you come to Churchillparken and the:
The Danish Resistance museum commemorates the struggle against the Nazis from 1940 to 1945.
After leaving the museum, walk toward the water along Langelinie, where signs point the way to:
12. The Little Mermaid
Perched on rocks just off the harbor bank, Den Lille Havfrue, the most photographed statue in Scandinavia, dates from 1913. The bronze figure, by Edvard Eriksen, was modeled after the figure of prima ballerina Ellen Price. In time, this much-attacked and abused statue became the symbol of Copenhagen.
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