13.12.2014

FAREWELL OF THE LITTLE MERMAID

FAREWELL OF THE LITTLE MERMAID, Gönül Midesiz | 13.12.2014

This time we were on our way to Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark. When I think of Denmark, the first things that come to mind are the fairy tales of Andersen and Hamlet. After a 3 hour long flight from Istanbul, we reached Copenhagen. The meaning of the word Copenhagen is “merchants' harbor.”

We took the subway from the airport and settled in to our hotel. The first thing that appealed to us when we hit the streets were the bicycle riders. The streets were packed with them, the roads, in fact all the city was organized according to bicycle riders. Our first destination was the Tivoli Gardens which were close to our hotel, but because it was almost evening, we took a rain check for the visit, explored the city center, had our dinner and went back to the hotel.

Next day, we woke early to go to Nyhavn. When we left the subway station, we found ourselves in the middle of an antique market which we discovered is usually held on Saturdays. The market sells a wide range of antique and second hand goods such as antique accessories, paintings, porcelains, little housewares etc. Through the antique market we continued on our way and reached Nyhavn. Once the harbor where ships from all around the world set down their loads, Nyhavn is now a tourist hub with its colorful historical houses, restaurants and cafes. The history of the house number 9 goes back to 1681. Number 20 is the residence of the famous fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen and he wrote his famous tales there. We left Nyhavn to go to Amalienborg Palace, but we planned to return for dinner.

Amalienborg Palace Complex was built in the 1700’s and is considered to be one of the greatest works of Danish rococo architecture. Although the complex is generally referred to as Amalienborg, there are, in fact, four other palaces on the four sides of the palace's square. On one side is the Moltke Palace, which was used as a guest house, on the other side is the Levetzau Palace, which was also used as a guest house, on the third side you will find the Brockdorff Palace, where the Crown Prince resided, and finally, on the fourth side is the Schack Palace, where the queen and her husband lived. In the middle of the square there is a statue of the King Frederick V, and a little ahead, with its green dome that is hard to miss, is the Frederik's Church, which is commonly known as the Marble Church.

We watched the changing of the Royal Guards, who were wearing their big black hairy caps. Every day the Royal Guards leave their barracks in the Rosenberg Castle, walk the streets of Copenhagen and reach Amelienborg Palace where the changing of the guards takes place at 12:00 noon. They use three different routes to reach the palace; there are three types of watches: King's watch, lieutenant watch and palace watch.

From Amalienborg we walked through Churchill Park, surrounding the Copenhagen Castle, to reach the statue of the Mermaid located in the Copenhagen Harbor. Passing by the statues, fountains and walking tracks, and seeing the Fontaine Gifon and St. Alban Anglican Church on our way, we noticed a crowd far in the distance and headed towards them.

When we went closer we understood why the people were gathered around. I expected a statue in the sea but I saw that the statue of the little mermaid was sitting on a stone by the seaside. And the crowd that had gathered around to take photos were tourists. Coming from such a long distance we couldn't resist the urge to have one ourselves.

The little mermaid has a very interesting story. The statue was unveiled on August 23th, 1913 as a gift from the beer manufacturer Carl Jacobsen to Copenhagen. The bronze and granite statue was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’. Carl Jacobsen was fascinated when he watched the ballet inspired by the tale in the Copenhagen Royal Theater, and felt in love with the mermaid and commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to make the statue of the mermaid. But, when the ballerina who was the mermaid in the ballet didn't agree to be a model the statue, Eriksen's, the sculptor's wife was used for the body.

The little mermaid has been defaced a couple of times. Twice beheaded, once amputated and countless times paint has been poured on it, but each time it has been restored so that it can bid farewell to the travelers leaving Copenhagen harbor.

On our way back, we used a different route in the park and took good shots of the interesting statues in the park.

At lunch time we took a break at a café, and then reached the Rosenburg Castle and the gardens by subway.

Rosenberg Castle has a very nice garden that you will absolutely enjoy very much. We went in to wander around the roses and other flowers and to explore the castle. The castle was built in renaissance style as the summer residence of the royal family in 1606 by the king, Christian IV. Today it is a museum exhibiting royal artifacts and crown jewels, but as a summer house it was used only twice.

The next day our first stop was Strøget. It's one of the longest streets in Europe where you can find both luxury and cheap brands. This is the spot for shopping, but we skipped shopping and visited Christianborg Palace.

Christiansborg Palace, is a complex composed of many buildings: the Danish Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Supreme Court. It was built in 1167 as “Absolon's Castle”, but after it was demolished piece by piece by the Hanseatic League, the ruins were covered with earthworks and Copenhagen Castle was built. Later it was turned into a castle and up untill today it has been rebuilt three times. It is located on Slotsholmen Island, in the city center. Some parts of the palace can be visited without a fee. You can pass the bridge which connects the main land to the island where the palace is located and walk along the canal.

If you walk down the palace, among the stores you'll see a square which has a fountain in the middle of it. If you're a big fan of walking my recommendation to you would be to skip the stores and to get lost in the streets where the historical houses are located. Like most of the cities in Europe, Copenhagen has preserved its historical texture and at any time a nice surprise may greet you around the corner.

Wandering around the streets, a round tower appealed us. When we went closer, we saw that it was an observatory tower and bought a ticket to take a look inside. Rundetårn, was built for astronomical observation in the 17th century and it's the oldest observatory in Europe which is still active. In those days, Denmark was a very advanced country in astronomy with the help of astronomer Tycho Brahe. Today, scientist don't use the tower, but it's still used as an observatory by visitors and amateur astronomers.

From the observation deck, the 360 degree Copenhagen view is great, but to reach it you will have to climb up the spiral ramp with a 268.5 meter long outer core, and an 85.5 meter long inner core. But I think you will agree that the view is worth the effort.

The last stop of our vacation was Tivoli Gardens. It can be described as the ancestor of theme parks like Disneyland. It was opened on August 15th 1843, and it is the oldest amusement park in the world. You walk in through a splendid gate entering the Tivoli which was established by Georg Carstensen. There are all kinds of trees and flowers, ponds, cafes and restaurants, open air theaters and fun fairs inside. At night there are fireworks displays, and during the summer there are concerts, ballets and pantomime shows.

We bought our tickets and went inside. Walking through the park, on each corner we came upon a different attraction. First we watched a gymnastic show, and then some ballet. There were also attractions like roller costars, but the only problem was the long line in front of them. Though I felt kind of scared, I didn't want to miss the chance so I got on a roller coaster but I was quite pale when I got off. But just for the excitement, it was worth it.

We continued are exploration and walked down to the lake side. There is a huge pirate ship on the lake, and you can have a little trip on one of the smaller boats on the lake, but we preferred to walk along the lake and enjoy the old mill, and the gardens full of colorful flowers till the evening.

The next day we were due to return home. To enjoy the limited time we had, we had to make a choice. Because it was far away, we skipped Hamlet's Castle and decided to take a train across cross the 24 km long Öresund Bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden.

We got on the train from Copenhagen and reached Malmö, Sweden in half an hour. The bridge runs nearly 8 km above the Baltic Sea, and is completed by a 4 km under water tunnel. It was opened for public use in 2000. The two story bridge, has a double track railway below and a dual carriageway above. Because of the lack of time we didn't have the chance to tour in Malmö, and said goodbye Copenhagen ending our weekend vacation.

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