When you live close to a cultural attraction or landmark, you often take it for granted. Such is the case for me with Fælledparken.
One morning a few weeks ago, I left on one of my frequent runs through the park. The sun was just beginning to rise and glistening off the leaves which were at the peak of fall foliage. It was one of those moments when you realize there is so much beauty around you that you just filter out. As I pondered returning home to pick up my camera, I realized I had never taken photographic tour of the park. Given the beautiful weather, I resolved that I would return later in the day to rectify this with this post as a result.
Fælledparken is not the most beautiful park in the city. It doesn’t have the Royal Castles or Palaces of Kongens Have (The Kings Garden) or Frederiksberg Have. And it is surrounded by the concrete monoliths of Parken, the national football (soccer) stadium and Rigshospitalet, the country’s primary trauma center. However, it makes up for this by being the most functional of the city’s parks. While football, skateboarding, grilling and even biking are forbidden in its more upscale counterparts, they are celebrated in Fælledparken.
The park was conceived and constructed between 1906-1914 on 59 hectares (146 acres) of pasture on the outskirts of the city (fælled means pasture in Danish). Since that time, the park has been swallowed by the city. Today, it is the largest and one of the most visited in Copenhagen with over 11 million visitors a year.
The primary characteristics of the park are flat spacious lawns in the center surrounded by mature trees which line the perimeter. However, it is only when you explore the host of other features the park has to offer that you truly begin to appreciate how the designers have been able to seamlessly blend both beauty and functionality. The park is currently undergoing extensive renovations which are upgrading the number and quality of services the park has to offer.
Lake and Flower Garden: Located on the western edge of the Fælledsøen (Pasture Lake), the Bloomsterhaven is a recent construction completed just this summer. Until last year, this part of the park was isolated from the rest by trees and dense foliage along the western shores of the “lake” (pond is a more apt description). However, these have been removed and the garden has been terraced down towards the water’s edge, providing magnificent views over the fountains of Fælledsøen and down the entire length of the park.
Playgrounds: The park has a number of playgrounds for children with two worthy of note. By far the most unique is Tårnlegepladsen, located at the southern entrance of the park. All of the features of the playground incorporate major Copenhagen landmarks into their design, including the Round Tower, Town Hall, Marble Church and features.
The other, Den Franske Plads (The French Place), located at the Northeast entrance, was just recently constructed as part of the upgrade. What it lacks in culture compared to Tårnlegepladsen, it makes up for in sheer scale. On any given day, you will find hundred of children playing to their hearts content.
Skate Park: For those who have left playgrounds behind, Skate Parken is the largest skateboarding venue is northern Europe with numerous walls, rails, and concrete fixtures to keep teens and 20-somethings occupied for days…
Dancing Square: For those who want to get their groove on, Dansepladsen is a permanent dance venue located in the north-western end of the park. Each evening during the summer months, the facility rotates through different dance types, from Tango to Salsa to Line dancing. If they don’t offer your preferred dance type, come back another night and it is likely that you will find what interests you.
Trafiklegepladsen: Perhaps the most unique feature of the park (at least to a North American) is the Trafiklegepladsen. This is a venue where schools can take children to teach them traffic rules. Given the extensive biking culture and freedom Danish children are given at an early age, traffic rules are taught in primary and secondary school. Trafiklegepladsen is a venue where children can learn all of the traffic signs and other features required to bike in a big city without the traffic and chaos of actually being on the roads. Although it is difficult to tell from the picture, everything, including the benches and signs are minature.
Exercise venues: There are numerous exercise and sporting venues scattered throughout the park. In addition to numerous football fields, there are fields for discus and shot-put as basketball courts. Exercise venues have parallel bars, balance beams and other equipment for doing chin-up, pushups and any other activity which suits your fancy. Similar to the playgrounds, these are constructed on surface made of recycled rubber to reduce the impact of training and limit injuries which might result from falling.
Miscellaneous: As mentioned previously, the park is shadowed to the west by Rigshospitalet, the national trauma hospital. As a trauma center, there is frequent helicopter traffic landing on the rooftop helipad with the primary approach being directly over Fælledparken. While a sleek air ambulance is used most of the time, Danish military AW101 Merlin helicopters are also used (the same as the Cormorant used by the Canadian Search and Rescue). It is impressive to watch these beasts take off and land. As luck would have it, there was one taking off as I was taking my photographic tour of the park…