While many tourist guides continue to list the Carlsberg quarter as a brewery visitor center, the old Carlsberg Brewery, on the border of Copenhagen’s Vesterbro and Valby districts, is rapidly becoming much more than that.
The area features some of Copenhagen’s best examples of industrial architecture, commissioned between 1847 and 1914 by the two brewers, J. C. Jacobsen and his son, Carl. Of these, the most famous is the Elephant Gate entrance from 1901, featuring four stone elephants bearing the tower on their backs.
The landmark Elephant Gate at Carlsberg Brewery. — Photo courtesy of Carlsberg Brewery and Visitor Centre
Another standout is the winding chimney, which Carl Jacobsen ordered built to show that an industrial chimney could be beautiful in its own right. Special features include Egyptian lotus flowers and gargoyles.
Carlsberg Visitors Centre is now enjoyed as a self-guided tour that includes the world’s largest collection of beer bottles and the stables, where Carlsberg’s dray horses are still kept, and ends with a beer tasting of specialty Jacobsen beer.
Carlsberg Brewery also has two gardens. Best known is the Ny Carlsberg Garden, with its replicas of classical sculptures, but there is also a second park, known both as J.C. Jacobsens Have and the Carlsberg Academy Garden. This was Jacobsen’s private garden, made in 1848 in the English style. Shielded by hedges, it’s one of the calmest places in the city.
The basements under the Carlsberg Brewery stretch for many miles, and only a small handful of Carlsberg employees know all of them. For this reason, the vaults are open on special occasions only and all visitors must be accompanied by an experienced guide.
The Carlsberg Quarter is much more than just a brewery visitor center; art lovers should check out the Fotografisk Center, artists’ studios and gallery spaces, and Europe’s largest center for contemporary dance, DANSEhallerne, which also houses a small cafe, Elefanten.