Copenhagen, Denmark – Celebrity Cruises

On Wednesday we spent the day in Copenhagen. We docked at 8am and weren’t sailing until midnight so it was nice to be able to take our time exploring the city. It was a lovely sunny day although the temperature only got to about 19 degrees. There were quite a few things to see so we took the Hop On Hop Off bus tour which had three routes to choose from.

Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century. It is the most populated city of Denmark, and second largest in Scandinavia, with an urban population of 1,246,611 and a metropolitan population of 1,975,361 (as of 1 April 2014). It is situated on the eastern coast of Zealand, 42 km northwest of Malmö, Sweden and 164 km (102 mi) northeast of Odense. The city stretches across parts of the island of Amager and also contains the enclave of Frederiksberg, a municipality in its own right.

Since the summer of 2000, Copenhagen and the Swedish city of Malmö have been connected by the Øresund Bridge, which carries rail and road traffic. As a result, Copenhagen has become the centre of a larger metropolitan area spanning both nations.

In 2012, Copenhagen was third in the ranking of the richest cities in the world in terms of gross earnings, dropping from first place in 2009. Copenhagen has some of the highest gross wages in the world. High taxes mean that wages are reduced after mandatory deduction. A beneficial researcher scheme with low taxation of foreign specialists has made Denmark an attractive location for foreign labour. It is however also among the most expensive cities in Europe.

Copenhagen were the first city in the world to officially introduce green policy. They are aiming to be carbon neutral by 2019. Cars attract an import tax of 180% so they are very expensive. They have bicycle lanes everywhere – 35,000 bicycles come into the city every day.

Copenhagen has over 94,000 students enrolled in its largest universities and institutions, including the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark and Copenhagen Business School. The University of Copenhagen, founded in 1479, is the oldest university in Denmark, and has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best universities in Europe.

As a result of Denmark’s neutrality in the First World War, Copenhagen prospered from trade with both Britain and Germany while the city’s defences were kept fully manned by some 40,000 soldiers for the duration of the war. However, during World War II, Copenhagen was occupied by German troops along with the rest of the country from 9 April 1940 until 4 May 1945. On 8 May 1945 Copenhagen was officially liberated by British troops commanded by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery who supervised the surrender of 30,000 Germans situated around the capital.

Copenhagen is home to a number of international companies including A.P. Møller-Mærsk, Novo Nordisk, Carlsberg and Novozymes. A.P. Møller-Mærsk is the largest shipping company in the world. It’s logo is a seven point star which represent the seven seas that they sail. The city also has successful business clusters in several innovative sectors including information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and clean technology.

The Tivoli Gardens had been highly recommended to us so that was our first stop. Tivoli Gardens is a famous amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen. The park opened on 15 August 1843 and is the second oldest amusement park in the world, after Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg. With 4.033 million visitors in 2012, Tivoli is the second most popular seasonal theme park in the world, the most visited theme park in Scandinavia and the fourth most visited in Europe, only behind Disneyland Paris, Europa-Park Rust and the Efteling.

While Tivoli looked cool we actually decided amusement parks weren’t really our thing so next stop was the Carlsberg factory. As you can imagine this was right up Steve’s alley. We decided to do the tour and it was really interesting. They main factory has been shut since 2008 due to the difficulty of getting the raw product to the site – it is very close to the centre of Copenhagen. They still operate a microbrewery from the site though with the main facilities now located in another part of Denmark. They have many offshore breweries making beer under the Carlsberg label with the yeast being supplied from the laboratory in Copenhagen – this ensures consistency in the brew. The only thing that can alter the taste of the beer is the quality of the water.

Carlsberg was founded by J. C. Jacobsen; the first brew was finished on 10 November 1847. Export of Carlsberg beer began in 1868; foreign brewing began in 1968 with the opening of a Carlsberg brewery in Blantyre, Malawi. Some of the company’s original logos include an elephant (after which some of its lagers are named) and the swastika. Use of the latter was discontinued in the 1930s because of its association with the Nazis. The company’s flagship brand is Carlsberg Beer but it also brews Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Somersby cider, Russia’s best selling beer Baltika, Belgian Grimbergen abbey beers as well more than 500 local beers.

Carlsberg is named after J.C. Jacobsen’s only child, a son called Carl. Berg mean’s hill so the translation is Carl’s Hill. Carl had a strict upbringing and was sent abroad to learn the art of brew making. J.C. and Carl didn’t see eye to eye and this was further exacerbated by Carl being well educated and having his own ideas. They ended up operating separate brew houses side by side – Old Carlsberg and New Carlsberg. Carl had been written out of his father’s will so on his father’s death all his father’s assets were put into a foundation to help all sorts of projects that benefited Copenhagen going forward.

In the early 20th century Carl got into some financial difficulty and asked the foundation for money – they originally refused but later agreed on the proviso that when Carl died all his assets were also put into a foundation. Carl agreed but there was provision for each of his children and their children etc… to be paid a lump sum annually for 50 years. He died in 1914 so in 1964 the last payments to any of his descendants were made. The foundations were eventually joined and continue to benefit Copenhagen with none of the descendants of the family benefiting directly.

In 1901, on brewer Carl Jacobsen’s initiative, the Architect Professor J. L. Dahlerup created a tower resting on four elephants carved in granite from the Danish island Bornholm. Brewer Jacobsen was inspired by this gate by the obelisk supporting elephant on the Piazza della Minerva in Rome. The four elephants each bear the initial of one of Carl Jacobsen’s four children: Theodora, Paula, Helge and Vagn. This became known as The Elephant Gate and is a landmark entrance to the brewery. To the west of the gate, Carl Jacobsen’s motto was inscribed: Laboremus pro Patria (Let us work for our country). Since then the Elephant has been a famous part of the Carlsberg Family, especially after the strong Elephant Beer was created in 1955 under the name “Export Lager Beer” and featuring the Elephant label. The Elephant is still brewed in Carlsberg Breweries in Copenhagen and exported around the world. A few markets brew their own Carlsberg Elephant beer locally according to the original recipe.

After the Carlsberg tour we caught the bus back to the city to check out the Nyhavn Canal which is also known as the longest bar in the world. It has all these bars set up alongside the canal. It had turned into a beautiful afternoon and there were people everywhere sitting on the edge of the canal. All the wooden sailing ships in the canal and the colourful 17th and 18th century townhouses alongside make it such a picturesque spot. The bars advertise takeaway beer – it is cheaper to buy a beer and go and sit on the edge of the canal and drink it.

Nyhavn was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1673, dug by Swedish war prisoners from the Dano-Swedish War 1658–1660. It is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city at Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square), where ships handled cargo and fishermens’ catch. It was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for some 18 years.

As ocean-going ships grew larger, Nyhavn was taken over by internal Danish small vessel freight traffic. After World War II land transport took over this role and small vessel traffic disappeared from the Port of Copenhagen, leaving Nyhavn largely deserted of ships.

Hans Christian Andersen (2nd April 1805 – 4th August 1875) was a Danish author. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen’s popularity is not limited to children; his stories, called eventyr in Danish, or “fairy-tales” in English, express themes that transcend age and nationality.

Andersen’s fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. Some of his most famous fairy tales include “The Little Mermaid”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Nightingale”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and many more. His stories have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

After spending a couple of hours exploring the area around the Nyhavn canal we had missed the last bus back to the boat but it was only about 2km to walk so we took the waterfront route past the Amalienborg Castle which 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.


The Danish Royal Family enjoys remarkably high approval ratings in Denmark, possibly ranging from somewhere between 82% and 92%. Queen Margrethe II is married to a French man who is known as the Prince Consort. They have two sons – Prince Fredrik who married Mary Donaldson from Australia, now known as Crown Princess Mary, and Joachim.

The Queen’s style of reigning is outgoing and during her reign, the royal house’s relationship with the population has become more open than before. During her annual summer cruises on the royal yacht Dannebrog, she attaches great importance to reaching all parts of the realm, including the Faroe Islands and Greenland. In addition, she has managed to give her traditional televised New Year message a personal touch, which has strengthened the monarchy’s position in the nation.

There is quite a connection between all the various royal families in Europe. The royal descendants of Queen Victoria (Queen of the United Kingdom) and of Christian IX (King of Denmark) currently occupy the thrones of Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. At the outbreak of the First World War their grandchildren occupied the thrones of Denmark, Greece, Norway, Germany, Romania, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom. For this, Queen Victoria was nicknamed “the grandmother of Europe” while Christian IX was nicknamed “Father-in-law of Europe”. Of the remaining kingdoms of Europe today, only Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands descends neither from Queen Victoria nor Christian IX.

Not far from where our boat was docked is the Little Mermaid statue. It is a bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, depicting a mermaid. The sculpture is displayed on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade. It is 1.25 metres tall and weighs 175 kilograms. 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. 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, who had been fascinated by a ballet about the fairytale in Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre and asked the ballerina, Ellen Price, to model for the statue. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen created the bronze statue, which was unveiled on August 23, 1913. The statue’s head was modelled after Price, but as the ballerina did not agree to model in the nude, the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen, was used for the body.
















This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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