On June 17, we took a six-hour private walking tour of Copenhagen with Kristian, who is a nice and extremely knowledgeable guy.
He picked us up at our hotel, and we walked over to Amelienborg, which is where the Danish royal family lives in the winter. Think of a fancy version of Hyannis Port...a very regal family compound. There are four palaces built around an octagonal courtyard, facing each other, so Queen Margrethe and her family can all wave at each other. Here is one of the palaces. The other three look pretty much like this one.
By all accounts, the Danish royal family manage to act simultaneously down-to-earth and regal, which is no mean feat. They are well-loved. You can read about them and see what they look like here.
They are all pretty impressive. For example, the Crown Prince of Denmark, Frederik André Henrik Christian (I call him "Freddie"), is fluent in Danish, English, French and German, trained as a Navy Frogman (the equivalent of a Navy Seal here in the U.S.), is a Commander in the Navy, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, and participates in long dog sled expeditions. And this is what his family looks like.
(Note: I did not take this photo of his family.)
Then we walked north, through the lovely Churchillparken (Churchill Park) (look how good your Danish is) and past St. Alban's Church, which is the Anglican Church in Copenhagen.
We kept going north, up through the grounds of Kastellet. Kastellet is a star fortress and is celebrating its 350th birthday this year. It's an historic site and a park, but also houses military activities.
I was so intrigued by Denmark's openness. It truly feels democratic. So many places were accessible and free, and you could just walk right in.
We walked a bit farther north, to the Little Mermaid. She is smaller and sweeter than I expected.
Kristian was clever in setting up a good photo with no other tourists in it for us...there were loads of people there. We are standing on rocks in the water to get this shot. :)
So thus far, we've walked something along these lines. (Ignore the bit that says 21 minutes. You would have to be (1) running and (2) not stopping to discuss things or take pictures of ducks.)
So then we took a quick ferry back down the harbor, to get to the other side. Our route kind of looked like this. I can't actually remember if we got on the ferry exactly at the Little Mermaid or not, and I'm not sure if the ferry swung out from shore so much at the beginning...that was just me spazzing out with the drawing tool. (As you know, Google maps does not have a "boat" option for charting directions.)
We got off the ferry at an area of Copenhagen called Islands Brygges. It still feels a bit industrial (which it used to be), but it is now actually a very fashionable place to live and hang out in the summertime.
I thought I was just quickly taking a photo of people sunbathing, but when I got home and zoomed in on this photo, I got a surprise.
I'm telling their mamas!
This waterfront area in Islands Brygges is called Havneparken, and includes one of Copenhagen's harbour baths, which are public swim and dive areas cordoned off from the harbor.
I like his cool shadow.
We walked along the harbor (north and slightly east again), through Christianshavn. I was interested in seeing it on foot, since we had been by on boat the day before.
We stopped and had lunch, and Kristian showed us where we'd been and where we were going.
When we got to Vor Frelers Kirke (Church of Our Savior), everyone but me climbed the bazillion steps up to the top.
I stayed down at the bottom. I am very afraid of heights.
(Also, I am lazy.)
I can't remember how we got back across the harbor again. We either took another boat, or crossed a bridge. We enjoyed the swans in front of Holmens Kirke (Church of Holmen). The church was originally built as an anchor forge in 1563, and, despite some fires and bombardments, hasn't changed much from its original shape.
This is Børsen, the Old Stock Exchange. I think I mentioned it in the last post during the canal tour. Its spire is four dragon tails twined together. The original spire was from 1625, but was replaced (with a near identical spire) in 1775. It is said to guard the building against fire and enemies.
I like to think of it as the Danish Godzilla.
Here is the Finansministeriat. Your Danish is good enough to guess that there is nothing really interesting to say about the Finansministeriet. I thought the roofline was pretty, however.
And here is Christiansborg Palace. There is plenty interesting to say about Christiansborg. For instance, it is the only building in the world that houses all three of a country's government branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. It's where the Danish Parliament is, and the Supreme Court, and the monarchy also uses some of it. The Royal Stables are there, for instance.
You can just walk right in, free and breezy, because it's Denmark.
Here is Frederik V. He was King of Denmark and Norway for a good chunk of the eighteenth century. His official motto was "by prudence and steadfastness," but that's a bunch of malarkey, because he was a wild and crazy party boy. He does not deserve to be buried next to Queen Louise, if you ask me. (Nobody asked me.)
Kristian said you could often see the Folketinget (the Danish parliament; Folketinget means "the people's thing") hopping on their bikes to go home after work.
I am telling you, the Danish democracy is really fascinating.
This is Christian IX on a horse. (I call him "Chris.") He was King of Denmark from the mid-nineteenth through the beginning of the twentieth century. He is known as "The Father-in-Law of Europe" because most of Europe's current monarchs are descended from him.
He tried to marry Queen Victoria, who was his third cousin, but she turned him down.
If you are interested in knowing how Christian IX became King of Denmark even though he was not in the immediate line of succession, you can look at the extremely complicated House of Oldenburg family tree diagram here.
We liked the fancy marble-and-mahogany stables. I think the horses were outside in the sun somewhere.
Then we walked to Det Kongelige Bibliotek (the Royal Library), which is the National Library of Denmark, the university library for the University of Copenhagen, and the largest library in the Nordic countries.
This statue is a guy named Peder Griffenfeld, who was the Royal Librarian during the seventeenth century. He was charming and brilliant, and ingratiated himself into the monarchy. Unfortunately, he was also arrogant and made some enemies, and was eventually sentenced to decapitation. He was saved at the last minute, but ended up a prisoner for over twenty years, until his death.
Our walking tour with Kristian ended here at the library by Kierkegaard, whom I call "Captain Kierk."
(Kierkegaard had a ton of pseudonyms, including "Vigilius Haufniensis" and "Hilarius Bookbinder," so I don't think he would mind "Captain Kierk.")