Little Mermaid Walking Tour, Copenhagen

Little Mermaid Walking Tour (Self Guided), Copenhagen

Constructed in the 18th century, during the reign of King Frederick V (hence the name), the district of Frederiksstaden is now regarded as one of the most important rococo complexes in Europe. This tour guides you through its broad streets, lined by bourgeois houses, mansions and palaces, built to glorify the absolute monarchy. Denmark was in the throes of an economic boom, and the beautiful architecture is there to prove it, measuring up to projects from the same period in cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. The highlight of the walk is arguably the best known attraction in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid statue – not Disney's version but Copenhagen's very own!
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Little Mermaid Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Little Mermaid Walking Tour
Guide Location: Denmark » Copenhagen (See other walking tours in Copenhagen)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: EmmaS
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Amalienborg Palace and Museum
  • Amaliehaven (Amalie Garden)
  • Odd Fellows Mansion
  • Moltke Mansion
  • Frederick's Church
  • Alexander Newsky Church
  • Medical Museion (Medical Museum)
  • Danish Museum of Art and Design
  • St. Alban's Church
  • Gefion Fountain
  • Kastellet
  • Little Mermaid
Amalienborg Palace and Museum

1) Amalienborg Palace and Museum (must see)

Amalienborg Palace is the official residence of the Danish Royal Family. This palace complex features four rococo palaces constructed between 1750 and 1758. All are built around the octagonal square where you will find King Frederik’s equestrian statue. King Frederik ruled Norway and Denmark between 1723 and 1766 and was instrumental in the construction of Frederiksstad of which Amalienborg palace is a part.

Land for the palace was acquired by King Christian IV who ruled Norway and Denmark between 1577 and 1648. Queen Sophie Amalie, King Frederik III’s consort constructed the first palace in this waterfront area between 1669 and 1673. This palace was destroyed by fire in 1689.

King Frederik IV constructed the second royal palace at Amalienborg during his rule between 1671 and 1730. This was a two-storied small summer residence that featured a charming French garden. It was named Sophie Amalienborg.

In the 1980s the palace was restored as residence for the Crown Prince, storage facilities for the Queen’s Reference Library and a museum for the Royal House of Glücksborg. The museum features private royal apartments from 1863 to 1947 including original fittings and furnishings.

King Frederik V, in his effort to create a separate city outside Copenhagen, constructed Frederik’s City or Frederiksstad that featured exclusive homes for the noble families and aristocrats. All buildings were in Baroque style. Later on, additions were made to these buildings in rococo architectural style. Make sure you include Amalienborg Palace in your itinerary when you visit Copenhagen.

Why You Should Visit:
Considered as one of the best examples of the Rococo architecture style, this complex is beautifully preserved and feels more intimate than its European counterparts.

Arrive at midday for the changing of the guard, an interesting display that takes around 10 minutes.
Amaliehaven (Amalie Garden)

2) Amaliehaven (Amalie Garden)

Amaliehaven also known as Amalie Garden is situated in central Copenhagen’s Frederiksstaden neighbourhood between the water front and the Amalienborg Palace. This small park was gifted to the city by the A.P. Moller and Chastine McKinney Moller Foundation in 1953.

The park was first created over an ancient shipyard established by Lars Larsen, a rich ship owner in 1802. Jean Delogne, the Belgian landscape architect designed this garden that was inaugurated in 1983.

The park is rectangle shaped with a large fountain at the center. The design is symmetrical and is exquisitely complemented by the naturally flowering plants. You will find two levels of the garden extending on either sides of the central fountain. One side of the garden is enclosed by the street and the other by walls and shrubs.

You will also find a stunning variety of flowers and plants in this garden. The effect is amazing with natural shapes of flowers contrasting the park’s geometric layout. If you visit Amaliehaven in April, you are extremely lucky as you will find the Japanese cherry trees in full bloom. These trees are indeed the highlight of this park.

All sculptures you find here are sculpted by Arnaldo Pomodoro, the famous Italian sculptor. There are four attractive abstract columns and water features that sprinkle jets of water.
Odd Fellows Mansion

3) Odd Fellows Mansion

The Odd Fellows Mansion (Danish: Odd Fellow Palæet) is a Rococo town mansion in Copenhagen, Denmark, named after the local branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which acquired the building in 1900. Before that, it was known as the Berckentin and later the Schimmelmann Mansion after its successive owners. It houses a concert hall which is open to the public.

The mansion was built as part of the redevelopment of the new Frederiksstaden district. It was designed by Johann Gottfried Rosenberg under the supervision of Nicolai Eigtved who had also conceived the district plan. It was built as a home for the wealthy merchant and politician Christian August von Berckentin who had just been ennobled with the title of count.

In 1762, Heinrich von Schimmelmann bought the property which now became known as the Schimmelmann Mansion. After his son Ernst Schimmelmann inherited it in 1782, the Schimmelmann Mansion became the centre of a colourful cultural life. Ernst and his wife, Charlotte Schimmelmann, shared a deep interest in the arts and Charlotte was famous for her salons.

The building is used as a location in the 1997 film Smilla's Sense of Snow. It is also used as a location in an episode of the YV series Matador.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Moltke Mansion

4) Moltke Mansion

The Moltke's Mansion is one of several town mansions in Frederiksstaden, although it actually predates the neighbourhood by half a century. It was built for Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve between 1700 and 1702 and was originally known as Gyldenløve's Little Mansion (in contrast to his larger mansion, now known as Charlottenborg Palace, at Kongens Nytorv). It received its current name in 1842, after it was acquired by Adam Wilhelm Moltke, the first Danish Prime Minister under the Danish constitutional monarchy.

The Baroque mansion has rich sandstone decorations featuring elephants and lion heads and is also notable for its interior decorations by Erik Pauelsen.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Frederick's Church

5) Frederick's Church (must see)

Also known as the Marble Church, Frederick’s Church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Copenhagen – especially for its dome which is the largest in Scandinavia. This dome spans 31 meters and is supported by 12 columns.

Along with all other structures in Frederiksstaden district, the church was built to commemorate a member of the House of Oldenburg’s 300 years coronation jubilee celebrations. It was designed and erected by architect Nicolai Eigtved in 1740. King Frederick V laid the foundation stone in 1749. Eigtved died in 1754 due to which construction was hit by budget constraints and had to be stalled.

Johann Friedrich Struensee discarded the original plan in 1770 and the church remained incomplete for a while in spite of many efforts. For the next 150 years, the edifice remained in ruins. Carl Frederik Tietgen eventually got prominent architect Ferdinand Meldahl to design the church in its final form and financed its construction. Due to financial restrictions, the original plans for the church to be built almost entirely from marble were discarded, and instead, Meldahl opted for construction to be done with limestone. The church was finally opened to the public on August 19, 1894.

A series of statues of prominent theologians and ecclesiastical figures, including one of the eminent Danish philosopher Kierkegaard (who, incidentally, had become very critical of the established church by the end of his life), encircles the grounds of the building.

Why You Should Visit:
This church really has the wow factor; as beautiful inside as it is out (also, rather unique and unusual as it is circular inside).

The dome can be visited – for a small fee – every day at 1pm sharp in summer but only at the weekend (Sat/Sun) in winter. Very impressive view from above!
Alexander Newsky Church

6) Alexander Newsky Church

Built by the Russian government, Alexander Nevsky Church holds the distinction of being the only one of its kind in Copenhagen. This Russian Orthodox Church was constructed between 1881 and 1883 to commemorate the wedding of Alexander Alexandrovich and Princess Dagmar of Denmark and is dedicated to Alexander Nevsky, the Russian patron saint.

The church was designed by David Ivanovich Grimm, the Russian architect and was funded by Tsar Alexander III. David Ivanovich, a professor at Saint Petersburg based Imperial Academy of Arts, was one of the winners in an architectural competition. His design was executed by Albert Nielsen, the Danish architect and was supervised by Ferdinand Meldahl.

The Church was consecrated by Chancellor of the Theological Academy in St. Petersburg, Provost Janysev in 1883. He was assisted by a monk from St. Petersburg based Alexander Nevsky Lavra and by the priest of the congregation. The ceremony was attended by Greek, Russian and Danish royal families.

From outside, you will find this impressive church designed in 17th century Muscovite architectural style. You will find three prominent onion domes dominating the building. These street facing domes are on top of the gable.

Highlight of the grey and red brick facade are the ornamentations in sandstone. Do not miss out the patron saint Alexander Nevsky’s statue above the bells standing high on the facade.
Medical Museion (Medical Museum)

7) Medical Museion (Medical Museum)

Medical Museion is a part of the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health Sciences. This museum is also a research unit dedicated to history of disease and health from a cultural perspective. It is housed in Frederiksstaden on Bredgade in a very old building dating back to 1787. This building was designed by Peter Meyn in neo-classical style. The Academy of Surgery responsible for educating surgeons was housed here from 1785 to 1842.

As you browse around, you will find that the main focus of this museum is the recent advancements in the field of biomedicine. You will find displays related to the iconographic culture of biomedicine here.

It was in 1906 that a group of Copenhagen based medical doctors founded the impressive collections at this unique museum. On the occasion of the 50th year celebrations of the Danish Medical Association, the Medical Museion held its first ever exhibition on August 22nd, 1907. At that time, the museum was situated at the Fredericiagade Rigsdag building. It was moved to its present location in 1947.

Originally the museum was called the Museum of Medical History. It was only from 2004 that it is referred to as Medical Museion. As part of the training, dissections were carried out in the central space which is used as the exhibition space today.
Danish Museum of Art and Design

8) Danish Museum of Art and Design

The Danish Museum of Art & Design (formerly, Danish Museum of Decorative Art; Danish: Kunstindustrimuseet) is a museum in Copenhagen for Danish and international design and crafts. It features works of famous Danish designers like Arne Jacobsen, Jacob Jensen and Kaare Klint, who was one of the two architects who remodeled the former Frederiks Hospital (built 1752–57) into a museum in the 1920s. The exhibition also features a variety of Chinese and German porcelain.

The museum houses the biggest library for design in Scandinavia. It also hosts a fully annotated and illustrated database of all furniture made in Denmark from 1900 to 2000, originally compiled by Reese and Marilyn Palley and later donated to and further developed by the museum.

The museum is home to the largest library in Scandinavia dedicated to decorative arts and industrial design. Open to the general public, the library is at once a museum library, research library, and Danish central library within its field. Opening hours are Tuesday–Friday from 11–17. The library contains more than 1,000 journals. The latest issues of the 75 journals and magazines which the museum subscribes to can be read in the library's reading room.

The reading room of the library hosts public lectures on design-related topics which draw upon the collections in both the museum and the library.

The Danish Design Archive and the Poster Collection are located on the museum's first floor.

The museum has a small auditorium on the first floor seating 120 people. It is rented out for lectures, concerts, receptions and other events.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Alban's Church

9) St. Alban's Church

St. Alban's Church, locally often referred to simply as the English Church, is an Anglican church in Copenhagen. It was built from 1885 to 1887 for the growing English congregation in the city. The church is dedicated to Saint Alban, the first martyr of Great Britain.

Designed by Arthur Blomfield as a traditional English parish church in the Gothic Revival style, it is in a peaceful park setting at the end of Amaliegade in the northern part of the city centre, next to the citadel Kastellet and the Gefion Fountain and Langelinie.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Gefion Fountain

10) Gefion Fountain

The Gefion Fountain (Danish: Gefionspringvandet) is a large fountain on the harbour front in Copenhagen. It features a large-scale group of animal figures being driven by the Norse goddess Gefjon.

The fountain depicts the mythical story of the creation of the island of Zealand on which Copenhagen is located. The legend appears in Ragnarsdrápa, a 9th-century Skaldic poem recorded in the 13th century Prose Edda, and in Ynglinga saga as recorded in Snorri Sturluson's 13th century Heimskringla.

According to Ynglinga saga, the Swedish king Gylfi promised Gefjun the territory she could plow in a night. She turned her four sons into oxen, and the territory they plowed out of the earth was then thrown into the Danish sea between Scania and the island of Fyn. The hole became a lake called Lögrinn and Leginum (locative). Snorri identifies the lake Löginn, as the lake of Old Sigtuna west of Stockholm, i.e., Lake Mälaren, an identification that he returns to later in the Saga of Olaf the Holy. The same identification of Löginn/Leginum as Mälaren appears in Ásmundar saga kappabana, where it is the lake by Agnafit (modern Stockholm), and also in Knýtlinga saga.

In spite of Snorri's identification, tourist information about the fountain identifies the resultant lake as Vänern Sweden's largest lake, citing the fact that modern maps show that Zealand and the lake resemble each other in size and shape.

Snorri, however, was well acquainted with Vänern as he had visited Västergötland in 1219. When he referred to this lake he called it Vænir.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

11) Kastellet (must see)

One of the most impressive and well-preserved fortifications in Northern Europe, Kastellet, as it is called, has bastions at the corners and is designed in the form of a pentagram. As you enter its grounds, you will find a number of buildings including a windmill and a church. This historic site which also serves as a public park is frequented by locals and tourists alike.

It was in 1626 that King Christian IV started construction of Kastellet. Economic constraints forced him to drop his grand plans of building a large castle here. King Frederik III, his successor continued with the construction which was later extended by Henrik Ruse, the Dutch engineer after the Swedish siege between 1658 and 1660.

Kastellet was built as an effort by Copenhagen to defend itself against England in the 1807 Battle of Copenhagen. A.P. Moller and Chastine McKinney Mollers General Fund made possible a complete renovation of Kastellet between 1989 and 1999. Currently, it is owned by the Danish Defence Ministry and the area is used by Defence Intelligence, Danish Home Guard, Chief of Staff, Royal Garrison’s Library and the Defence Judge Advocate Corps.

Locals visit Kastellet to enjoy a pleasant walk on a sunny day. Tourists visit this fortification for its rich heritage and children love to play around with the birds and animals here.

Why You Should Visit:
The high walls of the fortress offer a lovely view of the harbor, and the fact that half of it is still a working base means it's kept in tip top shape.
Very pleasant area to take a quiet stroll or run, and with a charming windmill to boot!

Can get windy on a cold day so do cover up.
Little Mermaid

12) Little Mermaid (must see)

On your trip to Copenhagen, take time off to visit the harbor where you will find the Little Mermaid statue. This statue is the icon of Copenhagen and is visited by tourists from across the world. The unimposing statue is based on one of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales.

After enjoying a ballet on this fairy tale at the Royal Theatre, Carlsberg founder’s son Carl Jacobsen commissioned the statue in 1909. It was modeled after none other than Ellen Price, the prima ballerina (well, partly, at least).

The statue is made of bronze and was painstakingly created by expert sculptor, Edvard Eriksen. Unveiled in 1913, the statue has Ellen Price’s head and Eline Eriksen, the sculptor’s wife’s body.

The Little Mermaid statue surprisingly weighs only around 175 kg and is 1.25 meters tall. Its small size is a surprise for first-time visitors who expect to see something grand and huge.

Why You Should Visit:
To watch people fall into the water as they try to get a photo with the statue (this happens more often than you'd think).

The perfect spot for taking a picture is from the promenade overlooking the statue to the left. It's a great photo op, not only of the mermaid but the Copenhagen harbour behind.

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