Following a walking tour of downtown Copenhagen last week, I had a work-related dinner in the city’s most famous district, Nyhavn (New Harbour). Dug between 1670 and 1673 by Swedish POWs, Nyhavn was created as a gateway for boats to deliver their cargo directly into Kongens Nytorv, one of the city’s central squares.
Today, the area is brimming with tourists and locals alike, enjoying the numerous bars, cafes and restaurants located within the colorful townhouses which line the canal. Tall ships and other vintage boats add to the atmosphere. During the summer, buskers entertain the crowds lounging on the terraces while tour boats depart under the watchful eye of native Danes drinking beer by the edge of the canal. As the weather cools, the terraces are equipped with blankets, gas heaters and tea-lights, all contributing to the sense of hygge. When the snow finally falls, everyone heads into the cozy confines of the bars and restaurants, only to re-emerge in December for the district’s annual Christmas market.
Despite its current atmosphere, Nyhavn’s past was not so inauspicious. Following its construction, the area quickly degenerated into a seedy red-light district favored by sailors and prostitutes alike. It shed some of this reputation in the mid 19th century when it became home to the famous Dane, Hans Christian Anderson, but resumed its decline following the introduction of large, ocean-going freighters. Not until the 1960s did the formation of the Nyhavn Society spark the canal’s revival into the destination that it is today.
Our dinner was held in one of the restaurants lining the canal, providing a glimpse into the district’s past. Built during the 17th century, the building oozed history and culture with its open-beam, half-timber construction and well-worn floors. Although once a downmarket hotel, it is currently one of the nicer restaurants in the area, providing a convivial atmosphere for meeting new colleagues and friends.
The following are pictures of Nyhavn taken at various times of the year, including a couple I took today.