Monthly Archives: May 2015

Beautiful Buildings

May 30, 2015
Copenhagen, Denmark

A bit of a slow day today. My traditional Danish dinner last night turned into traditional Danish snaps (a shot you do while eating dinner), and then traditional Danish beer, which continued into a night of traditional Danish drinking. It was a very cultural experience.

When I finally willed myself out of the apartment I decided to do a little wandering, eventually making my way to Nyhavn. My first stop was to go through the Central Station, instead of around it. The Station is beautiful, with red brick and huge wooden arches. It was rush hour in the station so I didn’t take any pictures inside, maybe tomorrow if I plan the timing better, but the outside is just as beautiful – and this is the back entrance!2015-05-29 06.50.24Emerging from the NE exit of the building I passed Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park built in the centre of town in 1843, which I am hoping to visit tomorrow and continued on to the Rådhus (or City Hall). It was inaugurated in 1905 and was designed in the National Romantic style with intricate decorative details. Apparently you can do tours inside but everything was locked up when I was there, probably due to it being a Saturday evening.

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Down the street from the Rådhus is the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, another stunning building built by Carl Jacobsen (of Carlsberg beer) as a home to his private art collection. The architecture here is so obviously different than Canada, more than I thought it would be. I mean, we have our own beautiful structures but the amount of historical buildings here, in such a small area is just wonderful. You can’t walk down the street with seeing something architecturally stunning.

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Just a couple short blocks away from the Glyptotek is Christiansborg Slot (or Christiansborg Palace), again stunning. And huge.

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I found the history behind the buildings really interesting so I am going to paraphrase from my friend Wikipedia. Christiansborg is the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court. Several parts of the palace are also used by the monarchy, including the Royal Reception Rooms, the Palace Chapel and the Royal Stables. Thus, the palace houses three of Denmark’s supreme powers: the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power. It is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country’s branches of government.

The present building, the third to be built on the site, is the last in a series of successive castles and palaces constructed on the same site since the erection of the first castle in 1167. Since the early fifteenth century, the various buildings have served as the base of the central administration; until 1794 as the principal residence of the Danish kings and after 1849 as the seat of parliament.

The palace today bears witness to three eras of Danish architecture, as the result of two serious fires. The first fire occurred in 1794 and the second in 1884. See? Super interesting!

The last stop (and ultimate goal) of my solo walking tour was to visit Nyhavn, the picturesque waterfront district you see on all the postcards and guidebooks for Copenhagen. It’s a tiny strip of canal front property that mostly houses bars and restaurants on land and historical wooden ships in the water.

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It’s a very cute area, brightly painted houses and lots of places to grab a drink – for a price. Architecturally I found it quite different than what I’ve seen in the rest of the city and maybe that’s part of it’s appeal. You can hop on a boat for a tour of the canals but I was there a little late in the day and there weren’t any more running. My favourite part of the history of this area was about it’s darker past as a haven for prostitution in the 1600s and that Hans Christian Anderson lived in the area for 18 years…though I’m not sure if those two elements ever crossed paths.

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First Day in Denmark

May 29, 2015
Copenhagen, Denmark

On my first morning in Copenhagen my lovely tour guide Lene (a friend I met while in Africa in 2012), took me around to some of her favourite spots in the city. We started at the Carlsberg Brewery, not for a brewery tour but to walk around the grounds (free to the public). You can see the founder’s house, J.C. Jacobsen, that looks onto a beautiful green space as well as his son’s house (Carl – the namesake of Carlsberg) and it’s opulent facade.

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I think the most famous architectural element on the whole grounds is the Elephant Gate, so named for the four gigantic marble elephants carrying a small tower on their backs.

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After the brewery we headed to the Frederiksberg Have (or the Frederiksberg Park), established by King Frederik IV in the 1690s. It is a huge park, absolutely massive, and very British in style with rolling greens and manicured gardens. It was lovely and quiet, being a Friday morning, but busy with runners and moms pushing buggies. The Park borders the zoo and from a certain vantage point you can see into the elephant enclosure, though I’m not sure how much the elephants like the Danish weather.

One of the sort of weird (but culturally neat) things Lene showed me in the park was the pacifier tree. Tradition states that when a child turns three they no longer need their pacifier so they gift it to the pacifier tree, that way they can always come back and visit it if they want. The tree itself is very old, but brightly coloured with curling ribbons, notes and gifts to the tree and of course, the pacifiers themselves.IMG_20150529_111739

My tour guide had some work stuff to take care of in the afternoon so I struck out on my own and visited the Nationalmuseet (or the National Museum of Denmark) because it’s free and really, how lost could I get in a museum. I’ll give you a hint: very lost. From the street the museum doesn’t look that large, but it’s really deceptive as I found myself in a maze of interconnecting hallways and surprising dead ends, but seeing as I’m writing this now I must have made it out ok.

There was so much to see and I get museum fatigue pretty quickly so I knew I should choose some highlights and get to work. I feel like the museum covered a lot of history, from early man to present day with a sort of creepy children’s toy section on the top floor.2015-05-29 08.29.28

My favourite stuff was the early man section, like this skull from a young boy and the silver Gundestrup Cauldron, found in a bog in 1891 but thought to have originally been made between 150 BC and the Birth of Christ.

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I also really loved this painting, A Beggar at the Door by Carl V. Meyer, 1911. From the plaque, “There was little construction work in the winter. If a builder was without work he could be forged to receive poor relief and thereby lose the right to vote. Begging, although illegal, was one way of avoiding poor relief.”Beggar

I thought the museum was really well curated, a great way to spend a few hours but really extensive and a little overwhelming at times. Kudos to the museum for keeping it free, the lower levels look recently renovated and the effective use of graphic design and lighting really highlighted the works on display.

Tonight I’m going out for a traditional Danish dinner. I’m expecting herring. Lots of herring.

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