I went out for a run around Fælledparken and “The Lakes” last weekend and thought I would post a bit more information on Copenhagen Ø (more commonly known as Østerbro), where I am living at the moment. Located north of downtown, Østerbro is an upscale district which appears to be the baby-making factory of Denmark. Indeed, even the Copenhagen tourist map states that Østerbro is where “families with children choose to move if they can afford the rent”.
Children or no children, the area has much to offer, with excellent shopping, green-space and the harbor. By far the most popular attraction is Den Lille Havfrue (“The Little Mermaid”), perched on a rock along the harbor-front. Diminutive in stature, the statue is only 1.25 meters high. She recently returned from her first overseas sojourn where she represented Denmark at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. Unveiled in 1913, she has been subjected to numerous acts of indiscretion, including decapitation and paint-bombing. Despite this, she remains one of the city’s greatest tourist attractions for some inexplicable reason.
Situated next to The Little Mermaid is the Kastellet, a pentagon-shaped citadel which once served as the city’s primary defense. Today, the Kastellet is a fully-functioning military district, housing the Chief of Staff, Defense Intelligence and Danish Home Guard. However, if you have images of barbed wire and tight security, think again. The citadel is open to the public and is a popular destination for pedestrians and runners, especially along the ramparts. I must say it is somewhat disconcerting running past armed guards out on patrol!
To the north of the Kastellet lies the ferry terminal for the Copenhagen-Oslo ferry. From my observations, prices seem quite reasonable (especially for families) considering the ticket includes a private berth. Ferries depart Copenhagen and Oslo at 5:00P.M., arriving at their destination the following morning, making it an attractive trip for long weekends.
Away from the harbour, Østerbro’s main shopping district is the north-south artery, Østerbrogade, which is lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Many of the city’s embassies are located in the large villas and mansions which line the southern end of the street. Away from the hustle and bustle of Østerbrogade, the area is littered with cafés and bodegas while to the west, “The Lakes” partially bisect the district.
The kommune’s other primary attraction is Fælledparken, Copenhagen’s largest park. Consuming a major portion of western Østerbro, the park is a haven for picnics and sunbathing during the summer months as well as a popular spot for walkers and joggers the rest of the year. Notable features of the park include a small lake and a pavilion which houses concerts during the summer months. However, by far the park’s most prominent feature is Parken, the national football (soccer) stadium.
If you see a Dane with the letters FCK emblazoned on their clothing, be assured that they are not trying to make a statement. They are simply supporting FC København, the country’s premier football club. The team has been particularly successful this season, making it into the Champions League Round of 16 for the first time. For those of you with no knowledge of European football (most North Americans), each European country has their own league (ie, British Premiership, German Bundesliga). The top team(s) from these leagues also qualify for the Champions League (this is a slight oversimplification).
Despite FCK’s reputation as one of the best clubs in Scandinavia, it is rare for Scandinavian teams to advance so far in the Champions League against well-financed clubs from much larger European markets. Needless to say, Østerbro will be rocking when FCK play host to Chelsea, one of England’s premier clubs, on Feb 22.
To the west of Fælledparken lies Rigshospitalet. One of three large hospitals in Copenhagen, it is the country’s primary trauma center and it is not uncommon to hear Air Ambulances approaching the hospital’s rooftop helipad. Given the close proximity of southern Sweden and the relative distance to larger Swedish cities such as Stockholm and Göteborg, I suspect the hospital may handle Medivacs from that region as well. However, it must be said that in a region known for cutting edge design, the Rigshospital misses the mark architecturally with its ‘60s-style design.