We were fortunate to have a day at sea between Estonia and Denmark. That gave us a day to rest and recover after three very busy days of touring. Next we went to Copenhagen, Denmark.
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and its most populous city. Recent archaeological finds indicate that by the 11th century, Copenhagen had already grown into a small town with a large estate, a church, a market, at least two wells and many smaller dwellings spread over a fairly wide area. Many historians believe that the town dates to the late Viking age.
Copenhagen’s founding has traditionally been dated to Bishop Absalon’s construction of a castle on the small island of Slotsholmen in 1167 where Christiansborg Palace stands today. Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the beginning of the 15th century.
One of our first tour stops, of course, was at the Little Mermaid Statue. The Little Mermaid is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, that is displayed on a rock by the waterside at a promenade in Copenhagen. It has a height of about 4 feet. The statue is based on the fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Anderson. This statue is a Copenhagen icon and has been a major tourist attraction since 1913. In recent decades 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 Brewery. He was fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre and asked the ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The statue’s head was modelled after Price, and the sculptor’s wife was the model for the body. The Copenhagen City Council decided to move the statue to Shanghai at the Danish Pavilion for the World Expo in 2010. It was the first time it had been moved from its perch since it was installed almost a century earlier. Even though we went to the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, we did not go to the Danish Pavillion, so we had to come to Denmark to see the Little Mermaid!
Next we went to see Amalienborg Palace.
Amalienborg Palace is the winter home of the Danish royal family. It consists of four identical classical palace facades with around an octagonal courtyard. In the center of the square is a statue of Amalienborg’s founder, King Frederick V.
Amalienborg was originally built for four noble families. Christiansborg Palace, where the royal family was living at the time, burnt down in February 1794. So, the royal family bought these palaces and moved in. Over the years various kings and their families have resided in the four different palaces.
Then our tour went out into the Copenhagen suburbs to visit Frederiksborg Palace. Frederiksborg is a palace that was built as a royal residence for King Christian IV and is now a museum of national history.
The current palace replaced a previous castle erected by Frederick II and is the largest Renaissance palace in Scandinavia. The palace is located on three small islands in the middle of Palace Lake (Slotsøen) and is adjoined by a large formal garden in the Baroque style.
The oldest parts of the castle date back to the 1560 structure built by Frederick II. Although he remains its namesake, most of the current palace was instead constructed by Christian IV between 1602 and 1620.
In the 1850s, the palace was again used as a residence by King Frederick VII. While he was in residence on the evening of December 16, 1859, he accidentally set a fire that destroyed a large part of the main palace’s interior. (Clearly, the Danish royalty seemed to have an issue with burning down their houses!)
This palace was very beautiful, but not as elaborate and over the top as the palaces that we saw in St. Petersburg.
Also, this palace was not devastated in either of the World Wars, so it has not needed much restoration since the Danish royalty moved out and stopped burning it down!
I think that this was Jeff’s favorite palace from all of the ones that we went inside of during our cruise.
The prominent philanthropist J.C. Jacobsen of Carlsberg Brewery funded the museum of national history that now occupies Frederiksborg Palace. We got to go into the chapel inside of this palace.
The church in Frederiksborg Palace has also been used as the knight’s chapel for the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Dannebrogs since 1693. The coat-of-arms of recipients of the two Orders are displayed on the walls of the church.
There is a coat of arms for President Eisenhower on the chapel wall.
After we left the Frederiksborg Palace, we went to a restaurant inside of some mid 20th century modern style houses. The house were odd, especially after just being inside of a castle. But the food was good, with lots of fish and pickled herring, the local specialties.
After lunch, we went to visit Christianborg Palace. This palace was a favorite of King Christian IX and Queen Louise. Christian IX was King of Denmark from 1863 to1906. He grew up as a prince of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, a junior branch of the House of Oldenburg which had ruled Denmark since 1448. Christian was originally not in the immediate line of succession to the Danish throne. However, in 1852, Christian was chosen as heir to the Danish monarchy in light of the expected end of the senior line of the House of Oldenburg. Upon the death of King Frederick VII of Denmark in 1863, Christian acceded to the throne as the first Danish monarch of the House of Glücksburg.
King Christian IX and his wife Queen Louise became known as “the in-laws of Europe”, as his six children married into other royal houses. Most current European monarchs are descended from him, including Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, King Philippe of Belgium, King Harald V of Norway, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. The consorts Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Queen Sofía of Spain are also descendants of Christian IX, as is Constantine II of Greece (the former and last King of the Hellenes).
There was a display of dresses belonging to the daughter Alexandra who married Tsar Nicholas of Russia on display in one room of the palace.
From the bit of Danish history that I learned about during this trip, the Danish kings and queens were good at making babies, not money! They were always short of money, and living “simple” life compared to the other European royalty. For example, the silver font on display in the church is a replica, because one of the Danish kings ran short of money, so he sold it and it was melted down. I don’t recall which king it was, as they were all “short of cash” during some part of their lives!
We were fortunate to have a professor with a phD in history on board our cruise ship who gave an interesting lecture series on European royalty during our days at sea. I learned a lot from her talks. And during the one on King Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark, she put up side-by-side photos of some of the sons and grandsons of King Christian IX and Queen Louise. They looked amazingly alike. So maybe it is a good thing that the remaining members of the royal families are marrying commoners. They are way too inbred!
I am going to end this blog entry on Denmark with a photo of some more expensive houses. All houses in Denmark used to have thatched roofs. It was inexpensive, and the common people had plenty of time to re-thatch their houses every fall. But now, labor to keep replacing the thatch on your roof is expensive, and fire insurance if your house has a thatched roof is very, very, very expensive! So nowadays, when you see a traditional house with a thatched roof on it, it means that someone with money lives in it! If not, the roof would have been replaced with shingles.