Magical Copenhagen: The city of mermaids, parks, palaces and flowers

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is the most romantic and popularized symbol of Denmark, and not a single tour of Copenhagen can do without it. The graceful bronze statue representing the main character of the famous fairy tale by Hans H. Andersen, appeared in the capital’s harbor in 1913 and since then has been an integral part of it.

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Video: The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

The story of The Little Mermaid: it’s not the fairy tale, it’s the ballet’s fault

Contrary to popular belief, this statue of the Little Maiden was not erected out of a desire to pay homage to Denmark’s greatest storyteller. It was a romantic passion that the son of the “beer king” Karl Jacobsen had for the prima donna of the Royal Theatre – Ellen Price. Fascinated by her talented performance as the Little Mermaid in the eponymous ballet, the heir to the beer empire suggested that the dancer immortalize her beauty and grace in metal. As a result, the rich man not only initiated the creation of the sculpture, but also paid for all the associated costs.

Edward Ericson, whose earlier projects had already been favorably received by critics and the general public, was commissioned to sketch the statue. However, a discrepancy arose in the midst of the work: Ellen Price flatly refused to be naked for posing. No persuasions had any effect on the obstinate ballerina, as a result Erickson had to use his own wife as a model. So, the image of the sea dweller can be literally called a collective one: the sculptor’s wife’s body is crowned with a charming head with recognizable features of the famous dancer. However, Erickson’s descendants refute this version, saying that the Little Mermaid’s appearance is entirely copied from the artist’s companion.

The Little Mermaid’s appearance

The base of the sculpture is a group of rocks, on which a large boulder is placed at an angle. Freezing in a relaxed and thoughtful pose, the fairy-tale heroine sits in the center of this improvised rock, leaning against it with one hand. What is noteworthy: the lower part of the girl’s body is depicted in a “transitional state”. Surprisingly, the sculptor has managed to perfectly recreate that fantastic moment when the slender female legs merge into an elastic fishtail under the influence of witchcraft charms.

Popularity and Imitation

The Little Mermaid, or “Lady of the Sea,” as the Danish have dubbed the sculpture, cannot boast of outstanding dimensions. The statue is only 1.25 m high and weighs 175 kg. But as time has shown, popularity and general love do not depend on the size of a work of art. Almost immediately after the opening of the Little Mermaid monument rumors about the new unusual sight of Copenhagen spread far beyond the borders of the kingdom, turning a modest statue into a symbol of the capital’s port. Moreover, the monument has acquired clones. So, for example, copies of the fairy tale heroine can be found in Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Sydney and even Saratov. It is possible that there would have been many more copies if Ericsson’s heirs had not claimed the copyright to the original image. Now, anyone who dares to borrow the Danish sculptor’s idea is obliged to make a traditional monetary contribution to the piggy bank of his enterprising descendants.

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A curious fact: Erikson’s Little Mermaid is not the only sea maiden in the Danish capital. For example, not so long ago a twin of the famous statue appeared in Copenhagen harbor. The second sculpture is installed away from the classic Little Mermaid and its view is more like a sad mutant from a fantasy movie. The author of the monument Bjorn Noergaard called his experimental creation “Genetically Altered Paradise”, thus alluding to the dire consequences of genetic engineering. In the same harbor you can find another underwater world inhabitant, which appeared here in 2007. The nude beauty with a fishtail peeking out from under the rock doesn’t look as poetic as Erikson’s sculpture, but she’s even more appetizing, which automatically makes her a hit with male tourists.

Vandalism

The Little Mermaid is simply “adored” by local vandals. Since 1961, the monument has been vandalized time and again. It has been decapitated twice, had its limbs “amputated”, had paint thrown over it, and even exploded. Pranksters in the capital tried to dress the statue up several times, drawing underwear on the maiden’s body or wrapping it in a burqa as a sign of protest against Turkey’s accession to the European Union. In 2006, on the eve of the International Women’s Day, the Little Mermaid received a festive “gift” from the citizens in the form of a dildo.

To somehow protect the monument from encroachments, the city authorities have organized a special floodlighting, which illuminates the bronze figure at night, thereby preventing vandals from getting to the statue. At one time there was even a police officer assigned to the Little Mermaid, although the number of hooligan pranks against the landmark has not decreased. Annoyed by constant incidents, Danish government representatives have been talking since 2007 about moving the statue further into the bay, but no concrete action has been taken about it.

Journey to China

In 2010, for the first time ever, the legendary sculpture disappeared from Copenhagen Harbor. It turned out that the Little Mermaid had simply “left” for the then World’s Fair in Shanghai. To protect the monument from vandals, the route of her travels was kept strictly secret, and at the exhibition, a personal guard was assigned to the charming nymph. All the while (from March to October), the inhabitants of the Danish capital admired the video installation that replaced the sculpture.

Information for tourists

The Little Mermaid is the most popular sight of Copenhagen, so, going to the monument, be prepared to meet here a crowd of the same lovers of romantic routes. By the way, it is believed that touching the statue gives happiness in love, so if you’re going to ask the sea maiden in the affairs of amorous, choose a windless day. Otherwise, you risk getting soaked through, because the slightest movement of air masses causes waves in the harbor, crashing on the base of the monument with a myriad splashes.

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How to get there

To admire the most romantic statue of the Danish capital, take the city train S-tog at the station “Norreport”. You will have to go to the stop “Osterport”, from which you should turn to the Langelinie Embankment. You can find the famous sculpture by following the signs that say “Lille Havfrue”.

Romantic Copenhagen with Momondo Places

Nobody associates Scandinavian capitals with romantic weekends, so when I was invited to test the Momondo Places iPad app and find the most romantic places in Copenhagen, I was overjoyed.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Secondly I found the idea of romantic places in Scandinavia very appealing, because I spent my honeymoon in winter in Iceland and not in the Maldives or the Seychelles.

 Copenhagen

In the photo: a street in Copenhagen

First a few words about the Momondo Places app. Everyone knows http://www.momondo.ru is the world’s largest hotel and flight booking site. But earlier this year Momondo launched Momondo Places, an iPad app for the most attractive cities in the world in terms of travel: London, Paris, Rome, New York, Copenhagen, Barcelona and Berlin.

Momondo Places app

Pictured: Momondo Places app

The app includes city maps (you can see them even when you’re offline) and descriptions of the main attractions and the best cafes and restaurants. The application Momondo Places has thematic programs for every city: romance, experience as a local, family vacations, cultural experiences and more. Read more about the Momondo Places app here.

The Statue of Mercury on the Roof, Copenhagen

Pictured: the rooftop statue of Mercury in downtown Copenhagen

Since I went to the Danish capital with my husband, it naturally fell to us to visit places that belong in romantic Copenhagen. A few reasons to spend a romantic weekend specifically in the Danish capital are in today’s review.

CHRISTIANSHAVN – COPENHAGEN’S MOST DISTINCTIVE NEIGHBORHOOD

Before we start talking about the romantic spots in the Danish capital, let’s talk about the atmosphere of the city. The atmosphere is amazing. All those who believe that Copenhagen – another typical bastion of combed European civilization, where everyone operates by the rules, and therefore it is boring and uninteresting, are severely mistaken.

Colorful houses in downtown Copenhagen

On photo: colored houses in the center of Copenhagen

It is not for nothing that the Danish capital is repeatedly recognized as the place where the happiest people in the world live. The fact is that Copenhagen is a perfectly balanced city.

Bicycles are the main transport system in Copenhagen

Pictured: bike – the main transport of Copenhagen

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On the one hand, there is order in the strictest sense of the rules of civilized European community.

Copenhagen

On the roads there are separate areas not only for cars, cyclists and pedestrians, but also for runners, smoking in public places, of course, is strictly prohibited, and everyone is extremely polite and friendly to each other. On the other hand, in the self-proclaimed state of Christiania (you can read more about it here), near the historic center of Copenhagen, there are hippies and jump nets on the Havnepromenade, and lounge evenings in churches at night, where young people lie on pouffes and meditate under the understanding gaze of the Virgin Mary.

bounce nets on Havnepromenade, Copenhagen

Pictured: jumping nets on Havnepromenade, Copenhagen

Christianshavn is the city’s most distinctive neighborhood, where Copenhagen’s diverse atmosphere is felt to its fullest, and it’s the neighborhood that tops the list of must-see places in the Momodo app. Here, the city’s modern buildings harmoniously coexist with historic houses and churches with sharp spires that are very reminiscent of the cathedrals of old Riga.

red roofs and green church spires remind you of the old city of Riga, Copenhagen

In the photo: the red roofs and green spires of the churches are reminiscent of the old city of Riga

The main local transport is a bicycle, the shops near the cafes are invariably decorated with flowers or ceramic figurines, and the unusual establishments, contemporary art galleries and stores with designer things and interior design objects in Christianshavn alone are so many that it may take a couple of days to explore them.

A typical example of a creative institution in Copenhagen

In the photo: a typical example of creative institution in Copenhagen.

By the way, the famous Christianshavn (you can read about it here), is also located here, right behind the concrete fence. Wander the streets, see the unusual bas-reliefs adorning the buildings, store in the stores, get take-out coffee and drink it while sitting on the city bench and watching the inhabitants rushing about their business.

Copenhagen flower store

Christianshavn is a neighborhood that perfectly captures the essence of Copenhagen, a city where innovation goes hand in hand with tradition, where times and manners don’t argue with each other, but rather one harmoniously complements the other.

QUAYS, PORTS AND CANALS – ROMANCE FOR MODERN MERMAIDS

Danish girls are amazingly beautiful. Tall, slender, with long wheat-colored hair and clear blue or green eyes. It seems involuntarily that they are all relatives of the same Andersen’s Little Mermaid, whose monument stands in the port of Copenhagen.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

Pictured: The Little Mermaid, one of Copenhagen’s symbols

Many romantically inclined couples start their exploration of Copenhagen with the Little Mermaid (Ostterbø), and they are understandable. The bronze figure is not only a symbol of the city but also the memory of one of the most beautiful and sad fairy tales in the history of mankind, no matter how Disney scriptwriters rewrote it afterwards.

Little Mermaid, Copenhagen

By the way, flocks of white swans are constantly cruising the lagoon near the Little Mermaid, which causes direct associations with other fairy tales by Andersen, some remember “Wild Swans”, others – “The Ugly Duckling”.

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New Harbour, Copenhagen

Pictured: New Harbor, Copenhagen

Modern mermaids will love Copenhagen’s New Port (Nyhavn) just as much. It’s not so much a place for sorrowful romance as it is for fun.

New Port of Copenhagen (Nyhavn)

Pictured: Nyhavn New Harbour

On both sides of the harbor are colorful houses with characteristic triangular roofs (similar ones can be seen in Amsterdam), in the center is the pier, from which the ships constantly depart on the city’s canals. Every other cabin in Novy Port has a bar where guests are treated to fish snacks and cold beer.

restaurants in Copenhagen's New Port (Nyhavn)

Pictured: restaurants in Copenhagen’s New Port (Nyhavn)

Sitting on one of Nyhavn’s summer terraces is a pleasure no matter what the season, and in the summertime it’s a pure pleasure.

table on the open veranda of one of the restaurants

Pictured: Table on an outdoor veranda at a restaurant.

By the way, again in the summer you can go for a ride on the canals of the city, and admire the houses on the waterfronts of Copenhagen.

Embankments of Copenhagen

Local buildings – a paradise for the perfectionist: all even, neat, colorful and the windows are located at the same distance from each other. Almost like in Amster, but more colorful.

STROLLS AROUND THE CITY: ALL IN THE GARDEN

Walking through the royal gardens hand in hand – can you imagine something more romantic? While Copenhagen is primarily known for its canals, there are also plenty of beautiful gardens where you can walk along manicured paths and roll around on the green grass. Momondo Places highlights three: the Royal Library Garden, the Botanic Gardens and the University Gardens.

The Royal Library Garden, Copenhagen

Pictured: Royal Library Garden, Copenhagen

Although the Botanical Garden was founded as early as 1600, it was not moved to its present location until 1870. In addition to Scandinavian plants, the garden has plants from the mountainous regions of Central and Southern Europe, and the oldest local tree is Taxodium from 1806.

The Royal Library Garden, Copenhagen

Pictured: Royal Library Garden

The university gardens with their famous rose gardens are a favorite place for Copenhagen’s students, and in the afternoons, Danish young people like to spend their afternoons on the lawns and banks of bodies of water.

Couple relaxing on the lawn of the park

Pictured: Couple relaxing on the park lawn

But Copenhagen’s most famous park is the Royal Garden near the Little Mermaid statue in the Ostterbø neighborhood.

 Rosenborg Palace, Copenhagen

Pictured: Rosenborg Palace, Copenhagen

In addition to the garden itself, Rosenborg Palace, which is now open to the public, also deserves attention. The manicured paths of the royal garden are insanely pleasant to wander along, talking about trivia and important things, and if you are lucky, on Saturday morning you can watch the changing of the royal guard.

Guardsmen arrive at the Royal Garden. Copenhagen

Pictured: Guardsmen arriving in Copenhagen’s Royal Garden

Royal Garden of Copenhagen

And then there’s Copenhagen’s oldest amusement park, Tivoli, which is now considered the third most visited in Europe and the most popular in Scandinavia. The only thing is that after the Christmas fairs and until spring the park is invariably closed for the vacations, but if you get to Copenhagen in the summer, you should definitely go for a ride on the local attractions and eat sweets, to feel like a child – is absolutely priceless pleasure.

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Pictured: Ponds in Copenhagen’s Royal Gardens CREATIVE PLACES AND VESTERBRO

Another specialty of Copenhagen are the creative establishments. When you look at the city’s bars and cafes, you get the impression that the residents of the Danish capital are competing with each other to see whose establishment is worthy of the title of the most creative in the city.

An example of Copenhagen's creative establishment, the glass cafe in the local architectural center

Photo: Example of a creative institution in Copenhagen – a glass cafe in the local architectural center

Take Café Paludan (Fiolstræde 10, http://paludan-cafe.dk), a mix of a reading room, art gallery, breakfast room and antiquarian bookshop.

Paludan cafe

Pictured: Paludan Café

It’s no surprise, then, that Copenhagen’s trendiest establishments are in the Vesterbro district, and more specifically in the former meat factory building. Of all the worthy ones, Kodbyen Fiskenbar deserves special attention (we just got information about it in the Momondo Places app) – a luxurious fish restaurant, even mentioned in the Michelin guide.

Kodbyen Fiskenbar summer terrace

Pictured: Kodbyen Fiskenbar summer terrace

Kodbyen Fiskenbar is unique not only in the original serving of dishes but also in the unusual interior. Tables and bars are set around transparent aquarium columns with live fish swimming in them.

Kodbyen Fiskenbar

Pictured: live fish in aquarium columns at Kodbyen Fiskenbar

All the fish and seafood dishes deserve attention (after all, fish is Copenhagen’s main specialty) and desserts, especially the fresh fruit versions covered in hot chocolate.

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK?

As it happens, the Momondo Places app for romantically inclined couples featured mostly Italian and French restaurants. However, for those who want to know more about the local gastronomy, we recommend to pay attention to the fish (we are in a port city, after all). In addition to simple options, it is worthy of attention, for example, caviar of sparrow fish, in the same Kodbyen Fiskenbar it is served in cucumber jelly and with cheese.

Sparrowfish caviar in cucumber jelly

Pictured: Sparrowfish caviar in cucumber jelly

In addition to the Kodbyen Fiskenbar, where the fish is cooked really well, you can try the usual local herring in any pub in Novy Port. As for drinks, the locals prefer beer – wine in the city of mermaids is unforgivably expensive.

New Port Café, Copenhagen

By the way, here’s the story with beer, in addition to the standard options are common here from seasonal varieties of beer, for example, at Easter or Christmas local youth drink beer with added spices, the taste is quite peculiar, but worth a try for everyone.

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