Top Historic Sights in Copenhagen, Denmark

Explore the historic highlights of Copenhagen

City Hall

Copenhagen City Hall is the headquarters of the municipal council as well as the Lord mayor of the Copenhagen Municipality. The current building was inaugurated in 1905. It was designed by the architect Martin Nyrop in the National Romantic style but with inspiration from the Siena City Hall. It is dominated by its richly ornamented front, the gilded statue of Absalon just above the balcony and the tall, slim clock tower. ...
Founded: 1893-1905 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Charlottenborg Palace

Charlottenborg Palace is a large mansion originally built as a residence for Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve. It has served as the base of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts since its foundation in 1754. Several other institutions of the Danish art world are also based at Charlottenborg, which today also serves as an exhibition space for art exhibitions, which is called Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The site was donated b ...
Founded: 1672 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Christiansborg Palace

Christiansborg Palace is the seat of the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister's Office and the Danish Supreme Court. Also, several parts of the palace are used by the monarchy, including the Royal Reception Rooms, the Palace Chapel and the Royal Stables. The palace is thus the house of Denmark's three supreme powers: the executive power, the legislative power, and the judicial power. It is the only building in th ...
Founded: 1733 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Rundetårn

The Rundetårn (Round Tower) is a 17th-century tower located in central Copenhagen. One of the many architectural projects of Christian IV, it was built as an astronomical observatory. It is most noted for its 7.5-turn helical corridor leading to the top, and for the expansive views it affords over Copenhagen. The tower is part of the Trinitatis Complex which also provided the scholars of the time with a university ...
Founded: 1637 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Trinitatis Church

Trinitatis Church is part of the 17th century Trinitatis Complex, which includes the Rundetårn astronomical observatory tower and the Copenhagen University Library, in addition to the church. Built in the time of Christian IV, the church initially served the students of Copenhagen University. The interior was seriously damaged in the fire of 1728 but was rebuilt in 1731. The bases and capitals of the columns and ar ...
Founded: 1637 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Amalienborg

Amalienborg is the winter home of the Danish royal family. It consists of four identical classicizing palace façades with rococo interiors around an octagonal courtyard; in the centre of the square is a monumental equestrian statue of Amalienborg"s founder, King Frederick V. Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families; however, when Christiansborg Palace burnt down on 26 February 1794, the royal ...
Founded: 1750-1760 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Caritas Well

The Caritas Well (Caritasbrønden) is the oldest fountain in Copenhagen. It was built in 1608 by Christian IV and is located on Gammeltorv, now part of the Strøget pedestrian zone. It is considered one of the city"s finest Renaissance monuments. The Caritas Well is a result of a relocation and modernization of an older fountain erected by Frederik II. He provided for the construction of a 6km long water ...
Founded: 1608 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Rosenborg Castle

Rosenborg Palace was built in the period 1606-34 as Christian IV’s summerhouse just outside the ramparts of Copenhagen. Christian IV was very fond of the palace and often stayed at the castle when he resided in Copenhagen, and it was here that he died in 1648. After his death, the palace passed to his son King Frederik III, who together with his queen, Sophie Amalie, carried out several types of modernisation. The ...
Founded: 1606-1624 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Yellow Mansion

The Yellow Palace (Det Gule Palæ), or Bergum"s Mansion, is considered the first example of Neoclassical architecture in Copenhagen. When Frederiksstaden was laid around 1748, it was envisioned as a uniform Rococo district. All new buildings had to comply with certain guidelines stipulated by Nicolai Eigtved, the district"s masterplanner. After Eigtved"s death in 1754 they were in principle upheld but ...
Founded: 1758-1764 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) is the cathedral of Copenhagen and the National Cathedral of Denmark. The present day version of the church was designed by the architect Christian Frederik Hansen in the neoclassical style and was completed in 1829. There has been several several churches on this site since 1209. The cathedral has been rebuilt four times: The first church was burnt down and reconstructed in 1316. ...
Founded: 1817-1829 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Church of the Holy Ghost

The Church of the Holy Ghost (Helligåndskirken) is one of the Copenhagen"s oldest churches. The first abbey in Copenhagen was a Franciscan monastery founded in 1238, just 12 years after the death of Francis of Assisi. Prior to that, Archbishop Eskil had founded two Cistercian monasteries, Esrom Abbey and Herrevad Abbey. Typically for the order, they had been founded at more remote locations in Northern Zealand ...
Founded: 1400-1450 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Church of Holmen

The Church of Holmen (Holmens Kirke) was first built as an anchor forge in 1563 and converted into a naval church by Christian IV. It is famous for having hosted the wedding between Margrethe II of Denmark, current queen of Denmark, and Prince Henrik in 1967. It is the burial site of such notabilities as naval heroes Niels Juel and Peter Tordenskjold, and composer Niels Wilhelm Gade, and contains artwork by, among others, ...
Founded: 1563 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue) is a bronze statue depicting a mermaid. Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, the small and unimposing statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since 1913. It has become a popular target for defacement by vandals and political activists. The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, wh ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Church of Our Saviour

Church of Our Saviour (Vor Frelsers Kirke) is a baroque church, most famous for its corkscrew spire with an external winding staircase that can be climbed to the top, offering extensive views over central Copenhagen. It is also noted for its carillon, which is the largest in northern Europe and plays melodies every hour from 8 am to midnight. When Christian IV planned Christianshavn in 1617, it was intended as an indepen ...
Founded: 1695 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Børsen

Børsen (The Stock Exchange) was built by Christian IV in 1619–1640 and is the oldest stock exchange in Denmark. It is particularly known for its Dragon Spire shaped as the tails of fourdragons twined together, reaching a height of 56 metres. Christian IV had ambitions to turn Copenhagen into a metropolis and to strengthen the city's position as a commercial centre, he wanted a stock exchange along with the new merchan ...
Founded: 1619–1640 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Garrison Church

In the 17th century, Copenhagen had become home to a sizeable garrison. A military church was built at Kastellet in 1670 but its modest size only allowed it to serve the personnel at the fortress. The rest of the troops in the city had to use Church of Holmen, a former anchor forge which had been converted into a naval church in 1619. When Sophie Amalienborg burned down in 1689, its chapel survived the flames and was sub ...
Founded: 1703-1706 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Botanical Garden

The University of Copenhagen Botanical Garden (Botanisk have) covers an area of 10 hectares and is particularly noted for its extensive complex of historical glasshouses dating from 1874. The garden is part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, which is itself part of the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science. It serves both research, educational and recreational purposes. The botanical garden was first establis ...
Founded: 1874 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Frederik's Church

Frederik"s Church (Frederiks Kirke), popularly known as The Marble Church for its architecture, was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740. It was along with the rest of Frederiksstaden, a district of Copenhagen, intended to commemorate the 300 years jubilee of the first coronation of a member of the House of Oldenburg. Frederick"s Church has the largest church dome in Scandinavia with a span of 31m, ...
Founded: 1749-1894 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

National Gallery of Denmark

Statens Museum for Kunst ('Statens Museum' or sometimes 'National Gallery of Denmark') collects, registers, maintains, researches in and handles Danish and foreign art dating from the 14th century till the present day, mostly with their origins in western culture circles. The museum"s collections constitute almost 9,000 paintings and sculptures, approximately 300,000 works of art on paper as well ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Kastellet

Kastellet is one of the best preserved star fortresses in Northern Europe. It is constructed in the form of a pentagram with bastions at its corners. Kastellet was continuous with the ring of bastioned ramparts which used to encircle Copenhagen but of which only the ramparts of Christianshavn remain today. King Christian IV of Denmark initiated Kastellet’s construction in 1626 with the building of an advanced post, ...
Founded: 1626 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Frederiksberg Palace

Frederiksberg Palace is a Baroque residence and should not be confused with Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerød. As crown prince, Frederick IV had broadened his education by travelling in Europe. He was particularly impressed by the architecture in Italyand, on his return to Denmark, asked his father, Christian V, for permission to build a summer palace on Solbjerg as the hill in Valby was then known. The original building ...
Founded: 1703 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Jarmers Tower Ruins

Jarmer"s Tower (Jarmers Tårn) is an old ruined tower, once part of the Copenhagen moat. Jarmers Tower represents the remains of the original eleven towers which were once joined together as a part of the city’s medieval fortification. The tower was built in the beginning of the 16th century. The tower is named after Jaromar II of Rügen (ca. 1218-1260), Fürst of the Wends, who in 1259 had attacke ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Museum of Copenhagen

The Museum of Copenhagen (Københavns Bymuseum) is the official museum of Copenhagen city. It documents the history from the 12th century to the present day. The museum is located close to the Central Station at Vesterbrogade, in a mansion from 1787 which used to house the Royal Copenhagen Shooting Society, and overlooks Skydebanehaven, the former shooting range now serving as a small public park. Outside the museu ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Carlsberg Factory

Carlsberg center is located in Valby at the location of the first Carlsberg Brewery. The visitor centre will give you an idea of how the world-famous Carlsberg Beer is made. Carlsberg is among the largest tourist attractions in Copenhagen. The Old Carlsberg Brewery from 1847 has been converted into a modern centre for visitors which exhibits the history of the beer.
Founded: 1847 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Christian's Church

Christian"s Church is a magnificent Rococo church in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen. After Christian IV founded Christianshavn in 1617 as a town specially for merchants, a large community of German tradrers and craftsmen settled there. Even though Christianshavn had been incorporated into Copenhagen prior to 1674, they did not attend St. Peter"s Church like the rest of the city"s German community ...
Founded: 1754-1758 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Frederiksberg Church

Frederiksberg Church, completed in 1734, it is built to an unusual octagonal design in Baroque style. Frederiksberg was founded when King Christian III transferred 20 Dutch families from Amager to the area, which became known as Ny Hollænderbyen ('New Dutch Town'), or Ny Amager ('New Dutch Town). The residents of this community constructed a small wooden church in 1653. It was burned down by Swedish t ...
Founded: 1734 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Mastekranen

Mastekranen (The Masting Crane) is an 18th-century masting sheer and present landmark on Holmen, designed by architect Philip de Lange and built in 1748–51 as part of the Royal Naval Shipyard at Holmen. Under the reign of Frederick III, Holmen was established through a series of land reclamations to replace the naval base and shipyard at Bremerholm. The first ship to be set a sea from Nyholm was Dannebrog in 1692 a ...
Founded: 1748-1751 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Holmen Naval Base

Naval Station Holmen is one of several naval stations of the Royal Danish Navy, supplementing the two Danish naval bases in Frederikshavn and Korsør. Founded in the late 17th century it is also a visitor attraction with many historical buildings that has played a vital role in the history of Denmark as well as Copenhagen. The naval base used to occupy the entire area of Holmen, which was in fact created by a serie ...
Founded: 1685 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Trekroner Fortress

Trekroner Søfort (Three Crowns Sea Fortress) is a sea fortress at the entrance to the Copenhagen harbour. From 1713 until after World War I, Trekroner Fort was part of the fortifications of Copenhagen. The original location of Trekroner Fort was a few hundred meters north of the current one. In 1713, three old line ships were sunk to form the basis for a battery. One of the ships was called Trekroner, and she gave her n ...
Founded: 1787 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Brønshøj Church

Brønshøj Church was built in the 1180s by Bishop Absalon, who is regarded as the founder of Copenhagen. This makes the Church the oldest intact building in Copenhagen. Originally dedicated to Saint Lawrence, Brønshøj Church is first mentioned in two papal briefs of 21 October 1186 and 25 March 1193. Limestone from Stevns Klint was used to build the Romanesque-style nave and choir. The red-brick ...
Founded: 1180s | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Flakfortet

Flakfortet, meaning sand-shoal fortress, is a sea fort located on the artificially built island of Saltholmreb. Flakfortet was the last of three artificial islands that the Danes created to defend the entrance to Copenhagen"s harbor (the other two are Trekroner Fort and Middelgrundsfortet). Eventually Flakfortet became more of a site for anti-aircraft weapons than for coastal artillery. Its military functions ended i ...
Founded: 1910–1914 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Middelgrundsfortet

Middelgrundsfortet is a sea fort located in the Øresund between Copenhagen and Malmö. It was constructed 1890–1894 as a part of Copenhagen"s sea-fortifications, partly from material excavated from Frihavnen. It is one of three artificial islands that were created to defend the entrance to Copenhagen"s harbor (the other two are Flakfortet and Trekroner Fort). Middelgrundsfortet was the largest ...
Founded: 1890-1894 | Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.