The Danish Royal Library, dating from the 1600s, is the largest and most impressive in the Norse countries. The classical building with its high-ceilinged reading rooms is a grand and impressive place. The library owns original manuscripts by such Danish writers as H. C. Andersen and Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen). In 1998, sorely in need of more storage space for its many historically important records, the library was expanded with the addition of a gargantuan and sharply angular granite annex, the Black Diamond, which extended the venerable antique structure out and over the waterfront traffic artery, expanding it in a dazzling (and dizzying) study in architectural contrasts.

In keeping with the Black Diamond's role as a repository for books, its floors, as designated by the elevators inside, are labeled as Levels A, B, and C rather than the more conventional designations as 1, 2, and 3. Along with space for 200,000 books, there's a bookshop, an upscale restaurant (Søren K), six reading rooms, a courtyard for exhibitions, and a 600-seat concert hall. After viewing the interiors of both the old and new sections of the library, you can wander through its formal gardens, past the fishpond and statue of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.