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Pedestrianisation
in Copenhagen
Part of our Low Carbon Copenhagen project ... project index >
introduction  •  how + why pedestrianisation started  •  Jan Gehl + Lars Gemzøe  •  transport integration  •  is it successful?  •  walking the city •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
Walking the city
Copenhagen city centre is approximately one kilometre square — small enough for most of us to comfortably walk in a day. The city's historical and geographical heart is the small island of Slotsholmen, home of the Danish Parliament, government and royal offices and a number of museums. Slotsholmen is also at the heart of the city's main pedestrianised zone.
To the south-west of the pedestrianised zone is the main railway station, Københavens H, with the Tivoli gardens right out front. To the east is the inner harbour frontage, to the north a series parks and gardens, including the Botanic Garden, leading to the other big station, Østerport. If you follow the waterfont from Slotsholmen northwards, you reach the pedestrainised canal frontage at Nyhavn, the Amalienborg Plads, the art museum and eventually The Little Mermaid on her harbourside rock.
Across the water is Chistianshavn, home of the new Copenhagen Opera House and the famous community called Christiania. Christianshavn is part of the island of Amager and you will be able to see various installations, such as the Amager geothermal plant, in the distance. In the main harbour can be seen the Middelgrunden Wind Farm.
Copenhagen is similar in size to Zürich, larger than Malmö and Oslo, but smaller than Stockholm, Amsterdam and Birmingham. Like many Europeans, Copenhageners enjoy an evening walk through their city — and they prefer the east-west route between Tivoli and Nyhavn.
The city centre can be thought of as having three parts — south, central and north, and many places in it are only accessible on foot or by bicycle. Here are some highlights.
Southern area, including Slotsholmen
Tivoli (Tivoli Gardens)
Opened in 1843 and one of the most famous places in Denmark, Tivoli is a pleasure garden that boasts almost 1,000 trees, 400,000 flowers, four orchestras, a floating restaurant, a pantomime theatre, a pagoda (1900), a Moorish-style restaurant, a concert hall (1956, updated 2005), rides and amusements, and elaborate main gates on Vesterbrogade (1896).
Nationalmuseet (National Museum)
Home of the country's finest collection of Danish artefacts from all periods.
Christiansborg Slot (Christiansborg Palace)
On Slotsholmen is Christiansborg Slot, which derives its name from an 1167 castle built by Bishop Absalon. The present palace dates from 1928 and has Copenhagen's tallest tower at 106m. The Danish Parliament (Folketing) occupies the majority of the building and is open to visitors in summer, when the 179 MPs are on vacation.
Vor Frelsers Kirke (Our Saviour's Church)
Built in 1696 to a design by Lambert von Haven. Features a 1698 organ three storeys high, a Baroque altar, and a spire (1752) designed by Lauritz de Thurah with a spiral staircase on the exterior. Lies over the harbour from Slotsholmen, near Christiania.
Central area
In the central area are many of the pedestrianised streets and squares mentioned earlier (see map of pedestrianised areas), including the main inner city thoroughfare Strøget. You will also find Charlottenborg Slot (Charlottenborg Palace), the city's cathedral (Vor Frue Kirke) and the Rundetårn (Round Tower).
Kongens Nytorv (King's New Square)
Laid out in 1680 by Christian V to link the medieval and newer parts of the city. Copenhagen's biggest 'square' is actually an oval.
Nyhavn (New Harbour)
A 300m long canal dug by soldiers in 1671-73. This was once a red-light district but is now filled with bars, cafés and restaurants.
Northern area
Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle)
A Dutch-Renaissance style brick palace completed in 1606 for Christian IV as a summer residence. Used as such until the early 18th century, opened as a museum early in the 19th century. Includes a treasury of royal jewels.
University of Copenhagen
City campus of the largest research and education institution in Denmark. Inaugurated in 1479, it's one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe.
Amalienborg Slot (Amalienborg Palace)
Official residence of the Danish royal family since 1794. Protected by the Livgarden (royal guards), with changing of the guard ceremony daily at noon. Consists of four similar buildings grouped around an octagonal courtyard, designed by Nicolai Eigtved and completed in 1760 for Frederik V.
Marmorkirken (Marble Church)
Protestant, completed c1870. Features a 31m diameter dome resting on 12 columns. Similar in style to St Peter's in Rome. Designed by Nicolai Eigtved.
Den Lille Havfrue (The Little Mermaid)
Bronze sculpture of the Hans Christian Andersen character. Surprisingly small — only 1.25m high. Erected August 1913, sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and modelled on ballerina Ellen Price (head) and Eline Eriksen (body).
back to introduction >
Top links
Frommer's   www.frommers.com
Bookable guided tours led by Tourist Information Office staff
Copenhagen Walking Tours   www.copenhagen-walkingtours.dk
Bookable guided tours, some with themes
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HDoRchR6Sg
Copenhagen - Lonely Planet Travel Video
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KkeBOOTYTQ
Travel Guide to Copenhagen, Denmark (August 2008)
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8JDrhieZVE
Copenhagen city tour 1/6 - "my trip to Copenhagen" (2009)
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdqokbJjpPE
Copenhagen city tour 3/6 - "my trip to Copenhagen" (2009)
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=maf3k1LIc-0
Copenhagen city tour 4/6 - "my trip to Copenhagen" (2009), including The Little Mermaid
YouTube   www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJPX8MWRgM4
Copenhagen city tour 6/6 - "my trip to Copenhagen" (2009), including Christiania
introduction  •  how + why pedestrianisation started  •  Jan Gehl + Lars Gemzøe  •  transport integration  •  is it successful?  •  walking the city •  sources
key facts  •  urban planning timeline  •  pedestrianisation timeline  •  Denmark timeline
image  courtesy Tim Beatley
sources and references  see sources
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Walking the inner city
Most of the sights mentioned in the text are plotted on the satellite view — click on the markers for location information. Click and drag on the map to move around.
Guide to Copenhagen
by littlemisstrouble at www.youtube.com
Take a virtual tour
Date: January 2007