Copenhagen is one of the favored European capitals, often described as a charming provincial town with the lively atmosphere of a capital city. It is situated on Sjaelland (pronounced Zealand), the largest island belonging to Denmark, sitting east of the main landmass and is the largest city in Denmark.
Copenhagen is one of northern Europe’s busiest harbors. The warm welcoming atmosphere can almost be felt when you sail into or out of the picturesque harbor and guests are greeted by the statue of the Little Mermaid gazing out to sea, at the entrance.
After World War II, most of the old center of Copenhagen was pedestrianized making it a paradise for shoppers who can admire at leisure, the latest marvels of Danish design and quietly enjoy a typical Danish open sandwich while watching the world go by. Still, one of the best ways the locals (and visitors) get around the city is by bicycle, a familiar sight on the streets. With a population of nearly 1.8 million, Copenhagen is Scandinavia’s largest and liveliest city.
The lively “Latin Quarter” is bound to the south by Stroget, the city’s main shopping street and to the north by Gothersgade, a large avenue separating Rosenborg and the “new town”. Most of the area is pedestrianized and the narrow streets are lined with tiny boutiques (often installed in the basement of the 18th century terraced houses), bookshops, antique shops, pizzerias and cafes.
Tivoli Gardens is just off the Radhuspladsen and is one of the world’s oldest leisure parks. Its foundation dates back to 1843. Entertainment, fantasy and charm bring life to these beautiful gardens that are adorned with a great variety of tall trees lit by Chinese lanterns.
Just north of Nyhavn Canal at Amalienborg Palace, home of the royal family since 1794, you can watch the colorful changing of the guard when the queen is in residence. Other magnificent museums and galleries can be found in Copenhagen along with many magnificent churches, grand cathedrals and charming places of worship. The city’s foremost historical and cultural sites remain concentrated in a relatively small area.
Copenhagen History. In 1157 Copenhagen was a small fishing village called Havn (Harbor) and in 1167 Bishop Absalon built a fortress to protect the port. It soon developed into an important trading center due to its position at the entrance of the Baltic, a vital trade route in medieval Europe. Queen Margrete I established the union of Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1397 – the Trekronnen Kingdom, the largest Viking Empire in history, which ruled from Denmark. Copenhagen became the capital city in 1416.
The reign of Christian IV (1588-1648) saw industry and commerce flourish and Danish trade was extended to the East Indies. Many of the finest buildings in the City were built at this time; the Stock Exchange, Rosenborg Castle and the Round Tower all remain to this day.
In 1660 Copenhagen became a “free” city with residents being given the same rights and privileges as the nobles. Major fires in 1728 and 1795, as well as attacks by British Naval forces in 1801 and 1807, destroyed large parts of the city.
The mid-19th century was Denmark’s golden age, the arts flourished and social progress took place. Neutral in World War I, Denmark was occupied for 5 years by German forces in WWII, but the underground put up a heroic resistance and the Danes helped some 7000 Jews to escape to Sweden. Fortunately the City escaped large scale destruction and after the War, Denmark entered NATO (1949) and in 1972 became a member of the European Economic Community.
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