I took part in a guided tour of downtown Copenhagen earlier this week and thought I would use the experience as inspiration to write a more detailed post on Copenhagen K (also known as Indre By). As the scenery is rather drab here at the moment, I have taken the liberty to scour the web for pictures which do more justice to city landmarks than my own. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
The focal point of most tourist visits, Copenhagen K is brimming with history, culture and design. Partially surrounded by the harbor to the east and “The Lakes” to the west, the entire population of Copenhagen resided within the cramped confines of its ramparts until the 1850s. Today, the district is ideal for exploring on foot. Indeed, the main thoroughfare is the Strøget, a pedestrian-only shopping district book-ended by Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square) to the south-west and Kongens Nytorv (King’s New Square) to the north-east. East of Kongens Nytorv lies the famous Nyhavn canal, the focal point of fair-weather activities in Copenhagen and the destination of our walking tour. Because there is so much to say about the Strøget and Nyhavn, I will elaborate on these landmarks in subsequent posts.
To the south of the Strøget lies the islet of Slotsholmen, where Bishop Absalon built the city’s first fortification in 1167. The remains of the castle can still be viewed in the basement of imposing Christiansborg Palace, seat of the Danish Parliament. Other notable features of Slotsholmen include the ornate Børsen (Stock Exchange), Royal Library and sleek “Black Diamond”, an adjunct of the Royal Library showcasing modern Scandinavian architecture.
To the north of Nyhavn lie the royal “apartments” which comprise Amalienborg Palace, primary residence of the Danish royal family. Each day, Royal Guards make their way westward past the Marmokirken (Marble Church) enroute to their barracks at Rosenborg Slot following the “Changing of the Guard”. The latter is a Renaissance castle housing the Danish Crown Jewels, situated within the confines of beautiful Kongens Have (King’s Garden).
Other notable features of Indre By include the Rundetårn, a round tower with a spiral pathway ascending to its observatory. The summit provides spectacular views over the spires and rooftops of downtown Copenhagen, unimpeded by high rises or office towers. To the west lies the vibrant “Latin Quarter”, home of Københavns Universitet (University of Copenhagen), founded in 1479. The area is littered with half-timbered houses, all of which date to before 1728, when a devastating fire resulted in them being banned from further construction. Today, the oldest building in the city lies within the courtyard of the university, dating back to the 1420s.