Experience history, as you never have before; encounter it where it happened and see it through the eyes of those who created it. History does not exist solely in dull and monotone books and in memorized monologues your teacher might deliver in the school classroom. History is not necessarily a dead thing belonging to the past; it is alive and happening right now. It can be seen everywhere in the city. Not only is it fun to go out and find parts of it; it can also prove to be a unique opportunity to understand the spirit of mankind. Join Kulturklik for a historic pilgrimage to Copenhagen.
Together we stand, divided we fall
Ever wondered what contributed to Copenhagen becoming the metropolis with which we are familiar today? Find a part of the answer at The Museum of Copenhagen's exhibition “Becoming a Copenhagener” which focuses on immigration to Copenhagen not just as a curious feature in the life of the town but rather as the catalyst of the town’s growth and change. In the 900 years that have passed since the city first was pinned on the map as the Kingdom of Denmark, Copenhagen has been on the brink of annihilation multiple times; by plagues, fire and wars. Each time – like a vitamin booster – the joining hands of the immigrants’ prosperity, knowledge and professionalism have helped to rebuild Copenhagen.
The Royal Castles of Copenhagen
Nothing illustrates the “regenerating” forces of Copenhagen like Christiansborg Palace, which is located on the small island Slotsholmen in the Copenhagen harbor. It has more than 800 years of history as the power base of the kingdom, though it is but the last in a series of successive castles and palaces constructed on the same site since the erection of the first castle in 1167! Soak in its history and the undoubtedly countless dramatic events and fascinating lives, which must have taken place at the palace during the centuries as it was demolished and rebuilt repeatedly.
The first castle was that of Absalon, Copenhagen’s first bishop and the city’s official founder, though the castle was demolished stone by stone in 1368 by the enemies of Valdemar IV. The following year an entirely new castle was being built on the very same foundation and dubbed Copenhagen Castle. This castle succeed in being rebuilt several times in the years between 1369 and 1720, where Frederik IV decided to rebuild it entirely, though the new and heavily decorated castle proved to be too heavy – the walls began giving way and cracking. Frederik’s son, Christian IV issued an order to demolish the overextended and antiquated castle and erecting a new in its place – called Christiansborg. It was – like the most works of Christian IV – a sight for the gods, but unfortunately the castle met its untimely end in a fiery fire in 1794. The construction of a second Christiansborg finished in 1828 – and burned down once again in 1884. Third time’s the charm as the saying goes, and the third Christiansborg stood proudly once completed in 1928.
Today, most of the premises at the palace are at the disposal of the Danish Parliament, though parts of the palace are open to visitors; visit the Royal Reception Rooms, Christiansborg Palace Chapel, the Royal Theatre and most of the Riding Ground Complex. Walk where kings have walked or reach out and touch the historic past with your very hands.
The citizen’s harbor
The Danish translation of Copenhagen is København, which stems from the ancient Danish name for the city, Køpmannæhafn, which literally means “the merchants’ harbor”. It does tell of the importance of the presence of merchants in Copenhagen. The citizens controlled the economy flow in the city in the past and still do. It was the hard-working citizens of the everyday life who got the city up and running in a manner of speaking, and it is their history you can experience in The Worker’s Museum, which tells of the heyday life of in the 20th century. To experience the other – and infinitely more privileged end of the citizen’s scale, visit the Victorian Home, a luxury flat of original interiors, which are remarkably well-preserved, from the upholstered furniture, elaborate drapers and ornaments, to the original bathroom and toilet.
For other historic points in your pilgrimage you might want to visit The Danish Police Museum for an insight into the everlasting struggle of good and evil in the life of the Copenhagener, both criminal and the forces of justice.