10 Best of Copenhagen's historic sites throw light on city's past

Copenhagen is a city rich in history, and this is reflected in its buildings. Many of Copenhagen's most impressive historic sites date from the 16th and 17th centuries and were built during the reign of King Christian 4, a renaissance ruler often referred to as the 'builder king' for his ambitious vision of a Copenhagen filled with tall spires. Today, these can be seen on the Round Tower of the Latin Quarter, the old stock exchange Børsen and King Christian's former summer residence, Rosenborg Slot, now well within the city limits.

A large proportion of Copenhagen's historic sites can be found on the small 'museum island' of Slotsholmen, ringed by canals and connected to the Indre Byen by a total of nine bridges. Denmark's parliament, Christiansborg - and the original ruins of Absalon's castle beneath it - is located here, along with the magnificent Thorvaldsens Museum, Christiansborg Slotskirke and the Royal Riding Stables.

Out of the city, two castles are worth a visit: Kronborg Slot, the setting for Shakespeare's Hamlet, in Elsinore and Frederiksborg Slot and its surrounding baroque gardens, a stunning example of renaissance architecture and home to Denmark's Museum of Natural History.

Copenhagen's oldest surviving church is the German Sankt Petri Kirke, which dates back to the Middle Ages. The City Hall dates from 1905, and was inspired by a similar building in Siena, Italy. Finally, take a walk through the city's brewing heritage on the old Carlsberg grounds; with production having moved elsewhere, this is now open to the public as visitor center.

Photo courtesy of Ib Rasmussen via Wikimedia Commons

Copenhagen's city hall was inaugurated in 1905, designed by architect Martin Nyrup and inspired by the city hall of Siena, Italy. (The previous city hall had been located in the old court house building, 'Domhuset'). While its red brick facade...  Read More

Medieval Sankt Petri Kirke, a German Lutheran church in Copenhagen's Latin Quarter, is Copenhagen's oldest surviving church and was built as a single-nave church in the mid 1400s; its noticeable spire was added in the 17th-century, when it was...  Read More

Børsen (The Old Stock Exchange)
Photo courtesy of Brian Murphy via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Slotsholmen's embankments, Copenhagen's old stock exchange is one of the city's finest examples of renaissance architecture. Its placing was intended to impress foreign merchants arriving in Copenhagen by sea, as an example of the...  Read More

Carlsberg Visitors Centre

Carlsberg Visitor Centre is basically a 90-minute self-guided tour through two centuries of brewing history in 10,000 sq.m of former production halls and includes a visit to the stables--though the dray horses only pull the brewery carts for...  Read More

Frederiksborg Slot
Photo courtesy of Palaces and Properties Agency

A masterpiece of elaborate baroque architecture, Frederiksborg Slot was built in the early 1600s on the orders of King Christian 4. The castle - located near Hillerød north of Copenhagen - has been home to Denmark's National Museum of Natural...  Read More

Outside the city
Kronborg Slot
Photo courtesy of Thomas Rahbek /SLKE

One of the best preserved renaissance castles in northern Europe, Kronborg Slot in Elsinore, north of Copenhagen is visited every year by thousands of tourists who want to see inside the real-life location of Shakespeare's fictional tragic...  Read More

Amalienborg Slotsplads
Photo courtesy of Klaus Bentzen

Amalienborg is actually a group of four Rococo palaces built around an octagonal square by royal architect Nicolai Eigtved in the 1750s. Of these, Queen Margrethe lives in Christian IV's palace with her husband, Prince Consort Henrik while Crown...  Read More

Rundetaarn (The Round Tower)
Photo courtesy of Morten Jerichau

The Rundetaarn dates back to 1642 and is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Built on the orders of Christian IV, it forms one-third of the scholarly Trinitatis Complex, the other two being the university library and church,...  Read More

City Centre
Rosenborg Slot
Photo courtesy of http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-497325-baroque-castle-of-rosenborg-copenhagen-denmark.php

There aren't many castles that actually look like the trademark Disney one, with fairytale turrets raised high over Copenhagen's other rooftops, but Rosenborg does, and stone lions guarding the entrance, too. This castle was built as the summer...  Read More

Christiansborg Palace dominates Slotsholmen, where it all started back in the 12th century when Bishop Absalon built a castle in the midst of bogland and herring fishermen. Christiansborg is shared equally by the Danish state and its monarchy...  Read More


Meet Jane Graham

After touring most of Europe in her twenties, Jane was charmed by Copenhagen's relaxed tempo and moved there from her native northern England in 1999. Four young children at home has meant...  More About Jane

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