May 29, 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.