Copenhagen is known for...
1. The Little Mermaid:
The diminutive stature of this bronze-cast Hans Christian Andersen heroine hasn’t prevented it from becoming Copenhagen’s most iconic landmark, the subject of countless vacation snapshots and postcards since its installation on Copenhagen’s waterfront in 1913. Both loved and ridiculed, this long-suffering maiden – cast in her human form – has endured political actions and artists’ happenings in addition to the indignities of sightseers. In 2010, The Little Mermaid was used to promote the Denmark brand internationally and physically shipped for exhibition at the World Expo in Shanghai.
Since 2000, the Danish – or “New Nordic” kitchen has been regarded as among the world’s best, a modern reinterpretation of traditional Danish cuisine that uses seasonal, local produce to be organic and climate-friendly. Few visitors to Copenhagen will succeed in dining at world’s best restaurant noma, but that doesn’t mean missing out on a lunchtime “smørrebrød” plate of herrings on rye or a sample of the city’s best kitchens at covered gourmet market Torvehallerne Kbh. Come in August for annual culinary festival Copenhagen Cooking and see what the world’s media are salivating over.
Attracted by a more liberal attitude to issues like racial tolerance and free thought, American jazz musicians made Copenhagen their home in the 1960s and the city has been synonymous with jazz ever since. The center of the scene was Jazzhus Montmartre, and its key players included Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster and Kenny Drew. In addition to the city’s handful of top-notch jazz clubs, an international jazz festival is held every July, when jazz of all genres spills out onto the city streets in open-air concerts and happenings.
The autonomous Free Town Christiania was founded in 1971 on the site of an abandoned military camp and has continued its existence for over four decades, lending Copenhagen its reputation as a liberal, free-thinking capital. The Danish state, that has always owned and tolerated Christiania, has recently opted to rethink its relationship with the Free Town and in 2011 an agreement was reached whereby residents would be able to buy back the area from the state – thus ending four decades as an officially-tolerated squat.
The image of pretty painted houses perched on the canalside is the archetypal Copenhagen scene. The city is ringed by canals, which is maybe why so many people mistakenly assume it is in Holland. Most popular are: Nyhavn, a former sailors’ haunt transformed into a lively summertime tourist trap, Gammel Strand, where a street market adds a lively air during the summer, and those around Christianshavn, an area so filled with canals it has earned the nickname of “Little Amsterdam”. Guided canal tours are some of the most popular activities for Copenhagen’s summertime visitors.