Wednesday, 27 June 2012


We decided to venture out to Roskilde which is 36 km west of Copenhagen. It was founded in the 10th century by the Vikings and was Denmark’s first capital. We had chosen one of the worst days weather-wise as it was pouring with rain when we arrived. We hadn’t brought our jackets as the weather had seemed OK when we left. As we had caught the train earlier than expected and arrived there before 10 am no shops were open to be able to buy an umbrella. We scurried down the deserted streets to a cafĂ©, then to the town square. We huddled in the verandah of the Tourist Information office hoping the rain would ease, it didn’t.  At 10 I sent Alan to buy two umbrellas at a ’20 krona shop’.
There is an interesting Cathedral here, for more than 1000 years there have been churches where the cathedral now stands. The present brick church was started in the 1170s and the construction lasted more than 100years. The body of the church was completed in 1280 and since them it has been extended a number of times over the centuries. A number of the kings and queens of Denmark have been buried here with tombs ranging from the simple to the over the top ornate.

Altar Roskilde Cathedral

Like many of the Danish churches the interior is quite simple with embellishments on the altar, pulpit and organ and some pictures here and there. I call it ‘muted baroque’ which is a contradiction of terms. Overall it was very interesting and with the entrance fee we received a really good guide.

We started out to the Viking Museum and followed the street directions but we were walking through this park that seemed to lead nowhere and it was still pouring rain. Thinking we were going the wrong way we turned back and went to the Tourist office and asked directions. Ultimately we were going in the right direction, however first we went to the Roskilde palace which has been turned into an experimental art gallery. We looked at some of the exhibits which proved more interesting than we thought they would be.
We decided to have lunch before we went to the Viking Museum. It was still raining as we made our way there. They had found 5 Viking ships that had been scuttled in the harbour the blockade it against attack. Archeologists had painstakingly recovered them and pieced together as to their size and the types of ships they were. They then built replicas of them and the largest one they sailed to Ireland. The museum keeps alive the skills the Vikings used to build their ships. The displays are extremely informative.

Viking Ship

By the time we had finished looking at the museum the rain had stopped. We then wandered back into the town to the railway station to make our way back to Copenhagen.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Copenhagen continued

There are many churches in Copenhagen and we visited many of them. After the Marble Church went to Helligandskirken ( Church of the Holy Spirit) which originally dates back to 1296 when it was part of a Catholic Monastery.. The church is one of the oldest in Copenhagen. It was badly affected by the great fire of 1728 and was largely rebuilt. Then we came across Vor Frue Kirke (Church of Our Lady) which is Copenhagen’s cathedral. It is the third church built on this site and the original 12th century Gothic church was another victim of the 1728 fire while the new church was bombarded by British troops in 1807. The present building dates from 1820. The church is not overly ornate though it has many artworks and statues  by prominent Danish artists on display. The Danish monarch Queen Margrethe can often be seen among the congregation on Sundays.


The Rundetarn (The Round Tower) is 33 metres tall and 15 metres in diameter it was erected on the orders of Christian IV and was originally intended as an observatory for the nearby university making it the oldest working observatory in Europe. Access to the top of the tower is via a cobbled ramp, in 1642 during the tower’s opening ceremony Christian IV is said to have ridden his horse up the ramp to the top and in 1716 the Tsar of Russia, Peter the Great was said to repeat the stunt. From the top of the tower there is a wonderful view of the city.
Adjoining the tower is Trinitatis Kirke commissioned by Christian IV for the staff and students of the University. It was inspired by the Gothic style and was completed in 1656 and the roof and interior was destroyed by the 1728 fire it was then rebuilt with Baroque features.

Tivoli Gardens Entrance

We were quite churched out after this and decided to visit the famous Tivoli Gardens that night. It is part amusement park and part cultural venue. Tivoli opened in 1843 and is loved and regarded as one of the Danes national treasures. It is in the heart of the city it has a large garden, many rides of various degrees of scariness and a large number of eateries and restaurants which includes Nimb a Michelin star restaurant.
We wandered around and enjoyed the atmosphere and ate at one of the more humble eateries.
The following day we visited Rosenburg Palace which was built in 1606 and contains many royal objects that include paintings, furniture and amoury. In the underground treasury/ vault the crown jewels and other royal treasures. Two armed soldiers guard the front of the treasury.  The palace itself is very interesting , in the Long Room there is a collection of silver furniture and tapestries.
We don’t give up, after lunch we wandered across the street to the Danish National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst) houses a great collection of European art as well as Danish painters which include artists from the ‘Golden Age’ (1800-50). After we took it all in, with our feet aching we  wondered how we managed to survive the Hermitage.
No satisfied with having aching feet from being on them all day we decided to walk to Nyhavn for dinner. I thought I would never be able to walk home but after a glass of wine and a lovely meal my feet were recovered enough to walk back to the hotel.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Copenhagen June 2012

After 27 hours of traveling and two plane changes we arrived in Copenhagen. We easily bought our train ticket into the city at the airport and our hotel was just around the corner from the station. Even though it was early we were lucky our room was ready, so we had a shower, changed and went off to explore the city.

Main Hall Radhus

It is an easy city to walk around and quite compact. So on the first day we managed to visit the Radhus (Town Hall) it was open in 1905 and was inspired by Italian buildings but also is influenced by Danish medieval architecture. The main hall is impressive. The clock tower is a city landmark and its bells can be heard across most of the city. It has a quiet garden courtyard which can be a haven from the bustling streets and the noisy town square in front of the main entrance.

We wandered down the one of the pedestrian shopping streets, took a turn here and there and ended up in front of Christianborg Slot. This place has had a rather chequered history. Originally it was Bishop Absalom’s 12th century fortress which was torn down to build the medieval Copenhagen Castle. The remains which can be seen in an interesting display, which include the remains of the walls. Christain VI (1730-46) replaced the previous building with one of the grandest palaces in Europe. Unfortunately it burnt down in 1794 and was replaced only to be extensively damaged by fire again in 1884. It was rebuilt in 1907 but still is very ornate and sumptuous and remains the seat of the government.
We then continued to the main canal past the Boursen (the former Stock Exchange) which was built between 1590 and 1640 on the order of Christian IV. Today the building houses the Chamber of Commerce and unfortunately is not open to the public. It has a wonderful spire of four dragons with their tails entwined which are topped with the three crowns of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
We crossed the canal and wandered some more then felt really tired as we made our way back to our hotel. We had an early dinner at an Italian restaurant close to our hotel. We crashed at 8.30pm.
Feeling more refreshed on our second day we decided to go on a canal tour which was very interesting and takes in the statue of the Little Mermaid which has become a symbol of Copenhagen, though it has been vandalized twice. The Little Mermaid is a Hans Christian Anderson story and is rather sad. Many of his stories are poignant which probably reflected the rather his rather sad life.
We passed Christianhavn which in 17th century was the brainchild of Christian IV, the area was originally a swamp but the king decided to acquire the land, drain it and have his nobles live there but they wouldn’t move there. He then decided to encourage merchants to use the area for their warehouses but had to bribe them by giving them the land and exempting them from tax for a number of years.   
Until recently this area was known as the ‘free state’ of Christiana and an alternative community sprang up here in the 1970s. Now the rundown buildings have been transformed into trendy restaurants, cafes, offices and apartments.
Overall the canal trip was very informative about Copenhagen and its history.

Amalienborg Slot
 We trotted off to Amalienborg Slot which is used by the Royal family today. It was founded by Frederick V (1746-66) and consists of four palaces. As always it’s good to be king with the opulent surroundings and ‘slaves’ to look after it.
We visited a number of churches as we made our way to the Rundetarn (Round Tower)
First the Marmokirke (Marble Church) which was modeled on St. Peters in Rome but on a much smaller scale the church was named after Frederik V who wanted it as a celebration of his family’s 300 year rule of Denmark. The work started in 1749 but it ended up costing too much and the work was abandoned.