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From upper left: Christiansborg, The Marble Church, Tivoli Gardens and the Nyhavn canal
Official logo of Copenhagen
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Country Denmark
Region Capital (Hovedstaden)
First mention 11th century
City Status 13th century
 • Lord Mayor Frank Jensen (S)
 • City
 • Metro
Highest elevation 91 m ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Template:Precision |Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[". }} ft)
Lowest elevation 1 m ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Template:Precision |Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[". }} ft)
Population (2013 (urban), 2014 (city, metro))[3]
 • City 569,557
 • Density {{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator. }}/km2 ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unrecognized punctuation character "[".|Expression error: Unexpected < operator. }}/sq mi)
 • Urban 1,230,728 (details)
 • Urban density
 • Rural density
 • Metro 1,969,941 (details)
 • Metro density 650/km2 ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator. |Expression error: Unexpected < operator. }}/sq mi)
 •  Density
 • Ethnicity 77.3% Danish
22.7% Other[2]
 • Ethnicity Density
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 1050-1778, 2100, 2200, 2300, 2400, 2450
Area code(s) (+45) 3

Copenhagen (IPA /ˈkpənhɡən/ or /ˈkpənhɑːɡən/; Danish: København Template:IPA-da (About this sound listen)) is the capital and most populous city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,230,728 and a metropolitan population of 1,967,727 (as of 1 October 2013). It is situated on the eastern coast of Zealand, 42 km (26 mi) 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.

Originally a Viking fishing village founded in the 10th century, Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early 15th century. During the 17th century, under the reign of Christian IV, it developed into an important regional centre, consolidating its position as capital of Denmark and Norway with its institutions, defences and armed forces. After suffering from the effects of plague and fire in the 18th century, the city underwent a period of redevelopment which included the prestigious district of Frederiksstaden and cultural institutions such as the Royal Theatre and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. After further disasters in the early 19th century when Nelson attacked the Danish fleet and bombarded the city, rebuilding during the Danish Golden Age brought a Neoclassical look to Copenhagen's architecture. Later, following the Second World War, the Finger Plan fostered the creation of housing and businesses along the five urban railway routes stretching out from the city centre.

Since the turn of the millennium, Copenhagen has seen strong urban and cultural development, facilitated by investment in its institutions and infrastructure. The city is the cultural, economic and governmental centre of Denmark and one of the major financial centres of Northern Europe with the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. 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. Since the completion of the Øresund Bridge, the metropolitan area of Copenhagen has become increasingly integrated with the Swedish province of Scania and its largest city, Malmö, known as the Øresund Region. With a number of bridges connecting the various districts, the cityscape is characterized by parks, promenades and waterfronts. Copenhagen's landmarks such as Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, the Amalienborg and Christiansborg palaces, Rosenborg Castle, Frederik's Church, and many museums, restaurants and nightclubs are significant tourist attractions. In addition to recent developments in the city service sector and the pharmaceutical industry, there have been a number of initiatives in clean technology, matching the city's aim to be carbon-neutral by 2025.

Copenhagen has over 94,000 students enrolled in its largest universities and institutions, including the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, Metropolitan University College, and the Technical University of Denmark. 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. Copenhagen is home to the FC København and Brøndby football clubs and the ice hockey teams Rødovre Mighty Bulls, Herlev Eagles and Hvidovre Ligahockey. The annual Copenhagen Marathon was established in 1980. Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world. The Copenhagen Metro serves central Copenhagen together with the S-train network connecting the outlying boroughs. Serving roughly 2 million passengers a month, Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup, is the largest airport in the Nordic countries.


The city's origin as a harbour and a place of commerce is reflected in its name. Its original designation, from which the contemporary Danish name is derived, was Køpmannæhafn, meaning "merchants' harbour", often simply Hafn or Havn. The English cognate would be Chapman's haven.[4] The English name for the city is derived from its Low German name, Kopenhagen. The chemical element hafnium is also named for Copenhagen, whose Latin name is Hafnia.[5]

The bacterium Hafnia is also named after Copenhagen, being coined in 1954 by Vagn Møller of the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen.[6]



Reconstruction of Copenhagen as of <acronym class="hidden" title="circa">c.</acronym> 1500

Early history

Although the earliest historical records of Copenhagen are from the end of the 12th century, recent archaeological finds in connection with work on the city's metro have revealed the remains of a large merchant's mansion near today's Kongens Nytorv from c. 1020. Excavations in Pilestræde have also led to the discovery of a well from the late 12th century, and the remains of an old church with graves dating to the 11th century have been unearthed near where Strøget meets Rådhuspladsen. These finds indicate that Copenhagen's origins go back at least as far as the 11th century, while substantial discoveries of flint tools in the area provide evidence of settlements as far back as the Stone Age.[7] Many historians believe the town dates to the late Viking Age, and was possibly founded by Sweyn I Forkbeard.[8]

The natural harbour and good herring stocks seem to have attracted fishermen and merchants to the area on a seasonal basis from the 11th century and more permanently in the 13th century.[9] The first habitations were probably centred around Gammel Strand (literally "old shore") in the 11th century or even earlier.[10]

The earliest written mention of the town was in the 12th century when Saxo Grammaticus in Gesta Danorum referred to it as Portus Mercatorum, which translates into Merchants' Harbour or in the Danish of the time Købmannahavn.[11] Traditionally, Copenhagen's founding has been dated to Bishop Absalon's construction of a modest fortress on the little island of Slotsholmen in 1167 where Christiansborg Palace stands today.[12]

The construction of the fortress was in response to attacks by Wendish pirates who plagued the coastline during the 12th century.[13]
Defensive ramparts and moats were completed and by 1177 St. Clemens Church had been built. Attacks by the Germans continued, and after the original fortress was eventually destroyed by the marauders, it was replaced by Copenhagen Castle.[14]

Middle Ages

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Tøjhus Arsenal (1604)

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Børsen (completed 1640)

In 1186, a letter from Pope Urban III states that the castle of Hafn (Copenhagen) and its surrounding lands including the town of Hafn were given to Archbishop Absalom of Roskilde by King Valdemar I. On Absalom's death, the property was to come into the ownership of the Bishopric of Roskilde.[9] Around 1200, the Church of Our Lady was constructed on higher ground to the northeast of the town which began to expand around it.[9]

The town rose in prominence but was repeatedly attacked by the Hanseatic League. As the fishing industry thrived in Copenhagen, particularly in the trade of herring, the city began expanding to the north of Slotsholmen.[13]

In 1254, it received a charter as a city under Bishop Jakob Erlandsen[15] who garnered support from the local fishing merchants against the king by granting them special privileges.[16]
In the mid 1330s, the first land assessment of the city was published.[16]

With the establishment of the Kalmar Union (1397–1523) between Denmark, Norway and Sweden, by about 1416 Copenhagen had emerged as the capital of Denmark when Eric of Pomerania moved his seat to Copenhagen Castle.[17][14]

The University of Copenhagen was inaugurated on 1 June 1479 by King Christian I, following approval from Pope Sixtus IV.[18] The university's Christian role in Danish society was forced to change during the Reformation in the late 1530s.[18]

16th and 17th centuries

In disputes prior to the Reformation of 1536, the city which had been faithful to Christian II was successfully besieged in 1523 by the forces of Frederik I, who supported Lutheranism. Thereafter, Copenhagen's defences were reinforced with a series of towers along the city wall. After an extended siege from July 1535 to July 1536 during which the city supported Christian II's alliance with Malmö and Lübeck, it was finally forced to capitulate to Christian III. During the second half of the century, the city prospered from increased trade across the Baltic supported by Dutch shipping. Christoffer Valkendorff, a high-ranking statesman, defended the city's interests and contributed to its development.[9]

During the reign of Christian IV between 1588 and 1648, Copenhagen experienced dramatic growth as a city. On his initiative at the beginning of the 17th century, two important building were completed on Slotsholmen: the Tøjhus Arsenal and Børsen, the stock exchange. To foster international trade, the East India Company was founded in 1616. To the east of the city, inspired by Dutch planning, the king developed the district of Christianshavn with its canals and ramparts. It was initially intended to be a fortified trading centre but ultimately became part of Copenhagen.[19] Christian IV was also responsible for sponsoring an array of ambitious building projects including Rosenborg Slot and the Rundetarn.[13]

In 1658–59, the city withstood a siege by the Swedes under Charles X and successfully repelled a major assault.[19]

By 1661, Copenhagen had asserted its position as capital of Denmark and Norway. All the major institutions were located there as was the fleet and most of the army. The defences were further enhanced with the completion of the Citadel in 1664 and the extension of Christianshavns Vold with its bastions in 1692, leading to the creation of a new base for the fleet at Nyholm.[19][20]

18th century

File:Kbh amalienborg mpazdziora.jpg

Amalienborg Palace in Frederiksstaden (1750)

File:Amalienborg Palace guards - DSC07134.JPG

Amalienborg Palace guards

Copenhagen lost around 22,000 of its 65,000 to the plague in 1711.[21]

The city was also struck by two major fires which destroyed much of its infrastructure.[14]
The Copenhagen Fire of 1728 was the largest in the history of Copenhagen. It began on the evening of 20 October, and continued to burn until the morning of 23 October, destroying approximately 28% of the city, leaving some 20% of the population homeless. No less than 47% of the medieval section of the city was completely lost. Along with the 1795 fire, it is the main reason that few traces of the old town can be found in the modern city.[22][23]

A substantial amount of rebuilding followed. In 1733, work began on the royal residence of Christiansborg Palace which was completed in 1745. In 1749, development of the prestigious district of Frederiksstaden was initiated. Designed by Nicolai Eigtved in the Rococo style, its centre contained the mansions which now form Amalienborg Palace.[24] Major extensions to the naval base of Holmen were undertaken while the city's cultural importance was enhanced with the Royal Theatre and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.[25]

In the second half of the 18th century, Copenhagen benefitted from Denmark's neutrality during the wars between Europe's main powers, allowing it to play an important role in trade between the states around the Baltic Sea. After Christiansborg was destroyed by fire in 1794 and another fire caused serious damage to the city in 1795, work began on the classical Copenhagen landmark of Højbro Plads while Nytorv and Gammel Torv were converged.[26]

19th century

On 2 April 1801, a British fleet under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker defeated a Danish-Norwegian fleet anchored near Copenhagen. Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson led the main attack.[27]

He famously disobeyed Parker's order to withdraw, destroying many of the Dano-Norwegian ships before a truce was agreed.[28]
Copenhagen is often considered to be Nelson's hardest-fought battle, surpassing even the heavy fighting at Trafalgar.[29]
It was during this battle that Lord Nelson famously "put the telescope to the blind eye" in order not to see Admiral Parker's signal to cease fire.[30]
File:Thoraldsens Museum.jpg

Gottlieb Bindesbøll's Thorvaldsen's Museum (1848)

The Second Battle of Copenhagen (or the Bombardment of Copenhagen) (16 August – 5 September 1807) was from a British point of view a preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet.[31]

But from a Danish point of view the battle was a terror bombardment on their capital. Particularly notable was the use of incendiary Congreve rockets (containing phosphorus, which cannot be extinguished with water) that randomly hit the city. Few houses with straw roofs remained after the bombardment. The largest church, Vor frue kirke, was destroyed by the sea artillery. Several historians consider this battle the first terror attack against a major European city in modern times.[32][33]
File:KBH 1890-1900.jpg

Slotsholmen canal, as seen from Børsen (1890–1900). In the background from left to right: Church of the Holy Ghost, Rundetårn, Trinity Church, St. Nicholas Church (before the spire was rebuilt) and Holmen Church

The British landed 30,000 men and surrounded Copenhagen.[30] The attack continued for the next three days, killing some 2,000 civilians and destroying most of the city.[30] The devastation was so great because Copenhagen relied on an old defence-line whose limited range could not reach the British ships and their longer-range artillery.[34]

Despite the disasters of the early 19th century, Copenhagen experienced a period of intense cultural creativity known as the Danish Golden Age. Painting prospered under C.W. Eckersberg and his students while C.F. Hansen and Gottlieb Bindesbøll brought a Neoclassical look to the city's architecture.[35] In the early 1850s, the ramparts of the city were opened to allow new housing to be built around The Lakes (Danish: Søerne) that bordered the old defences to the west. By the 1880s, the districts of Nørrebro and Vesterbro developed to accommodate those who came from the provinces to participate in the city's industrialization. This dramatic increase of space was long overdue, as not only were the old ramparts out of date as a defence system but bad sanitation in the old city had to be overcome. From 1886, the west rampart (Vestvolden) was flattened, allowing major extensions to the harbour leading to the establishment of the Freeport of Copenhagen 1892–94.[36] Electricity came in 1892 with electric trams in 1897. The spread of housing to areas outside the old ramparts brought about a huge increase in the population. In 1840, Copenhagen was inhabited by approximately 120,000 people. By 1901, it had some 400,000 inhabitants.[26]

20th century

By the beginning of the 20th century, Copenhagen had become a thriving industrial and administrative city. With its new city hall and railway station, its centre was drawn towards the west.[26] New housing developments grew up in Brønshøj and Valby while Frederiksberg became an enclave within the city of Copenhagen.[37] The northern part of Amager and Valby were also incorporated into the City of Copenhagen in 1901–02.[38]

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.[39]

In the 1920s there were serious shortages of goods and housing. Plans were drawn up to demolish the old part of Christianshavn and to get rid of the worst of the city's slum areas.[40]

However, it was not until the 1930s that substantial housing developments ensued,[41] with the demolishment of one side of Christianhavn's  Torvegade in order to build five large blocks of flats.[40]

World War II
File:Shellhuset 210345.jpg

RAF bombing of Gestapo headquarters in the Shell House (March 1945)

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. The occupation was not a part of the Nazi German expansion, and initially the German authorities sought to arrive at an understanding with the Danish government. Even a general parliamentary election was granted in 1943, with only the Communist Party excluded. But in August 1943, after the government's collaboration with the occupation forces collapsed, several ships were scuttled in Copenhagen Harbour by the Royal Danish Navy to prevent their use by the Germans. Around that time the Nazis started to arrest Jews, although most managed to escape to Sweden.[42]

After the Normandy Invasion the Germans feared the Danish police could become a problem. In early September 1944, they set about arresting the entire Danish police force. Most of them, however, managed either to hide or to escape to Sweden. Out of 2,000 policemen captured and deported to Germany, fewer than half returned after the war. In the absence of a police force, during the last eight months of occupation Copenhagen suffered a high rate of common criminality.[42]

Ole Lippman, the leader of the Danish resistance movement (SOE), invited the RAF to assist their operations by attacking Nazi headquarters in Copenhagen. Accordingly, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Basil Embry drew up plans for a spectacular precision attack on the Sicherheitsdienst and Gestapo building, the former offices of the Shell Oil Company. Political prisoners were kept in the attic to prevent an air raid, so the RAF had to bomb the lower levels of the building. The attack came on 22 March 1945, in three small waves. In the first wave, all six planes (carrying one bomb each) hit their target, but unfortunately one of the aircraft crashed near Frederiksberg girls school. Because of this crash four of the planes in the two following waves assumed the school was the military target, and aimed their bombs at the school leading to the death of 123 civilians (of which 87 were schoolgirls).[43] However 18 of the 26 political prisoners in the Shell Building managed to escape while the Gestapo archives were completely destroyed.[43]

Post-war decades
File:SHL - Black Diamond.jpg

The Black Diamond (1999)

Shortly after the end of the war, an innovative urban development project known as the Finger Plan was introduced in 1947, encouraging the creation of new housing and businesses interspersed with large green areas along five "fingers" stretching out from the city centre along the S-train routes.[44][45]

With the expansion of the welfare state and women entering the work force, schools, nurseries, sports facilities and hospitals were established across the city. As a result of student unrest in the late 1960s, the former Bådsmandsstræde Barracks in Christianshavn was occupied, leading to the establishment of Freetown Christiania in September 1971.[46]
File:Bridge over Øresund.jpg

Øresund Bridge (1999)

Motor traffic in the city grew significantly and in 1972 the trams were replaced by buses. From the 1960s, on the initiative of the young architect Jan Gehl, pedestrian streets and cycle tracks were created in the city centre.[47] Activity in the port of Copenhagen declined with the closure of the Holmen naval base. Copenhagen Airport underwent considerable expansion, becoming a hub for the Nordic countries. In the 1990s, large-scale housing developments were realized in the harbour area and in the west of Amager.[41] The national library's Black Diamond building on the waterfront was completed in 1999.[48]

2000 to present

File:Copenaghen Opera House.jpg

Copenhagen Opera House (2004)

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. The bridge has brought about considerable changes in the public transport system and has led to the extensive redevelopment of Amager.[46] The city's service and trade sectors have developed while a number of banking and financial institutions have been established. Educational institutions have also gained importance, especially the University of Copenhagen with its 35,000 students.[49] Another important development for the city has been the Copenhagen Metro, the underground railway system which opened in 2000 with additions until 2007, transporting some 54 million passengers by 2011.[50]

On the cultural front, the lavish Copenhagen Opera House, a gift to the city from the shipping magnate Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller on behalf of the A.P. Møller foundation, was completed in 2004.[51] In December 2009 Copenhagen gained international prominence when it hosted the worldwide climate meeting COP15.[52] Template:Clear all


File:Copenhagen skyline.jpg

Skyline of the old city core of Copenhagen.

File:Copenhagen 12.57744E 55.66605N.jpg

Satellite view

Copenhagen is part of the Øresund Region, which consists of Zealand, Lolland-Falster and Bornholm in Denmark and Scania in Sweden.[53] It is located on the eastern shore of the island of Zealand, partly on the island of Amager and on a number of natural and artificial islets between the two. Copenhagen faces the Øresund to the east, the strait of water that separates Denmark from Sweden, and which connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. The Swedish towns of Malmö and Landskrona lie on the Swedish side of the sound directly across from Copenhagen.[54] By road, Copenhagen is 42 kilometres (26 mi) northwest of Malmö, Sweden, 85 kilometres (53 mi) northeast of Næstved, 164 kilometres (102 mi) northeast of Odense, 295 kilometres (183 mi) east of Esbjerg and 188 kilometres (117 mi) southeast of Aarhus by sea and road via Sjaellands Odde.[55]

The city centre lies in the area originally defined by the old ramparts that are still referred to as the Fortification Ring (Fæstningsringen) and kept as a partial green band around it.[56] Then come the late 19th and early 20th century residential neighbourhoods of Østerbro, Nørrebro, Vesterbro and Amagerbro. The outlying areas of Kongens Enghave, Valby, Vigerslev, Vanløse, Brønshøj, Utterslev and Sundby followed from 1920 to 1960. They consist mainly of residential housing and apartments often enhanced with parks and greenery.[57]


The central area of the city consists of relatively low-lying flat ground formed by moraines from the last ice age while the hilly areas to the north and west frequently rise to 50 m (160 ft) above sea level. The slopes of Valby and Brønshøj reach heights of over 30 m (98 ft), divided by valleys running from the northeast to the southwest. Close to the centre are the Copenhagen lakes of Sortedams Sø, Peblinge Sø and Sankt Jørgens Sø.[57]

Copenhagen rests on a subsoil of flint-layered limestone deposited in the Danian period some 60 to 66 million years ago. Some greensand from the Selandian is also present. There are a few faults in the area, the most important of which is the Carlsberg fault which runs northwest to southeast through the centre of the city.[58] During the last ice age, glaciers eroded the surface leaving a layer of moraines up to 15 m (49 ft) thick.[59]


File:Amager Strandpark - kite surfers.jpg

Amager Strandpark

Copenhagen and the surrounding areas have three beaches with a total of approx. 8 kilometres (5 miles) of sandy shores within 30 minutes cycling from the city centre. These include Amager Strandpark, which opened in 2005 with a 2 km (1 mi) long artificial island and a total of 4.6 km (2.9 mi) of beaches, located just 15 minutes by bicycle or a few minutes by metro from the city centre.[60]

The beaches are supplemented by a system of Harbour Baths along the Copenhagen waterfront. The first and most popular of these is located at Islands Brygge and has won international acclaim for its design.[61]


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Frederiksberg Palace in the snow

Copenhagen is in the oceanic climate zone (Köppen: Cfb ).[62] Its weather is subject to low-pressure systems from the Atlantic which result in unstable conditions throughout the year. The Gulf Stream brings warmer water across from the Gulf of Mexico causing average temperatures to be some 5 degrees higher than would be expected for the city's latitude of 55 degrees North. Apart from slightly higher rainfall from July to September, precipitation is moderate. While there can be snow from late December to early March, there can also be rain with average temperatures around the freezing point.[63]

June is the sunniest month of the year with an average of about eight hours of sunshine a day. July and August are warm too with daytime temperatures around 20 °C (68 °F) although rainfall averages 69 mm per month. By contrast, the average hours of sunshine are less than two per day in November and only one and a half per day from December to February. In the spring, it gets warmer again with from four to six hours of sunshine per day from March to May. February is the driest month of the year.[64] Exceptional weather conditions can bring as much as 50 cm of snow to Copenhagen in a 24 hour period during the winter months[65] while summer temperatures have been known to rise to heights of 33 °C (91 °F).[66]

Because of Copenhagen's northern latitude, the number of daylight hours varies considerably between summer and winter. On the summer solstice, the sun rises at 04:26 and sets at 21:58, providing 17 hours 32 minutes of daylight. On the winter solstice, it rises at 08:37 and sets at 15:39 with 7 hours and 1 minute of daylight. There is therefore a difference of 10 hours and 31 minutes in the length of days and nights between the summer and winter solstices .[67]

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File:Districts of Copenhagen urban area.jpg

Districts of Copenhagen municipality

The conurbation of Copenhagen includes the municipalities of Copenhagen, Dragør, Frederiksberg and Tårnby, with a total population of 704,108 at the start of 2012.[68] After Copenhagen Municipality, the second largest is Frederiksberg Municipality, an enclave inside Copenhagen Municipality. Both are contained in the larger Capital Region of Denmark, containing most of the urban area of Copenhagen. Since a reform in 2006–08, Copenhagen Municipality has been divided into 10 official districts (Danish: bydele):[69] Indre By, Østerbro, Nørrebro, Vesterbro/Kongens Enghave, Valby, Vanløse, Brønshøj-Husum, Bispebjerg, Amager Øst, and Amager Vest. Neighbourhoods of Copenhagen include Slotsholmen Frederiksstaden, Islands Brygge, Holmen, Christiania, Carlsberg, Sluseholmen, Amagerbro, Ørestad, Nordhavnen, Bellahøj, Brønshøj, Ryparken, and Vigerslev.

Municipal government

File:Copenhagen City Hall.jpg

Copenhagen City Hall

The seat of Copenhagen's municipal council (Borgerrepræsentation) is the Copenhagen City Hall (Københavns Rådhus). The council is chaired by the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen, who with two selected vice-presidents overlooks the 55 representatives of the council who are given civic duties to perform.[70] The council usually meets every other week at 17:30 on a Thursday.[70] They discuss a range of issues including labour and employment, business growth, economics, international cooperation and IT, urban planning, housing and construction, and young, old, and disabled people issues, healthcare, and traffic, with a central focus on making the city sustainable and meeting environmental and health targets.[71]

File:Frank Jensen Bogforum10.jpg

Mayor Frank Jensen

All members of the council are elected every four years. In the municipal elections in November 2013, the Social Democrats remained in first place with 27.8% of the vote (down by 2.2% from 2009) while Enhedslisten (the Red-Green Alliance) was in second place with 19.5%.[72][73] Copenhagen's mayor Frank Jensen retained his position, but was not happy with the result which was the worst ever for his party. The Social Democrats have been the party behind the mayors of Copenhagen for the past 110 years.[74]

The municipal government is divided into seven administrative departments; Employment and Integration, Culture and Leisure, Health and Care, Finance, Child and Youth, Social Services, and Technical and Environmental Administration.[75] It has six political committees and a finance committee. The annual budget for the city is proposed in August and finalized in October and the annual report is published in May of every year. The accounting firm Deloitte is responsible for auditing the City of Copenhagen's accounts.[76]

Lord mayors since 1938

All lord mayors of Copenhagen have belonged to the Social Democratic Party.[74]

Law and order

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Copenhagen Court House

Most of Denmark's top legal courts and institutions are based in Copenhagen. A modern style court of justice, Hof- og Stadsretten, was introduced in Denmark, specifically for Copenhagen, by Johann Friedrich Struensee in 1771.[77] Now known as the City Court of Copenhagen (Kobenhavns Byret), it is the largest of the 24 city courts in Denmark with jurisdiction over the municipalities of Copenhagen, Dragør and Tårnby. With its 42 judges, it has a Probate Division, an Enforcement Division and a Registration and Notorial Acts Division while bankruptcy is handled by the Maritime and Commercial Court of Copenhagen.[78] Established in 1862, the Maritime and Commercial Court (Sø- og Handelsretten) also hears commercial cases including those relating to trade marks, marketing practices and competition for the whole of Denmark.[79] Denmark's Supreme Court (Højesteret, located in Christiansborg Palace on Prins Jørgens Gård in the centre of Copenhagen, is the country's final court of appeal. Handling civil and criminal cases from the subordinate courts, it has two chambers which each hear all types of cases.[80]

File:Police HQ Copenhagen.JPG

Politigården, the police headquarters

The Danish National Police and Copenhagen Police headquarters is situated in the Neoclassical-inspired Politigården building built in 1918–24 under architects Hack Kampmann and Holger Alfred Jacobsen. The building also contains administration, management, emergency department and radio service offices.[81] In their efforts to deal with drugs, the police have noted considerable success in the two special drug consumption rooms opened by the city where addicts can use sterile needles and receive help from nurses if necessary. While drugs are still illegal, police do not prosecute addicts using the rooms. Deputy Chief Superintendent Kaj Majlund commented, "You have to find new ways to deal with drug addicts. You can't succeed by putting them into jail."[82]

The Copenhagen Fire Department forms the largest municipal fire brigade in Denmark with some 500 fire and ambulance personnel, 150 administration and service workers, and 35 workers in prevention.[83] The brigade began as the Copenhagen Royal Fire Brigade on 9 July 1687 under King Christian V. After the passing of the Copenhagen Fire Act on 18 May 1868, on 1 August 1870 the Copenhagen Fire Brigade became a municipal institution in its own right.[84] The fire department has its headquarters in the Copenhagen Central Fire Station which was designed by Ludvig Fenger in the Historicist style and inaugurated in 1892.[85]

Environmental planning

File:Copenhagen view from North port 20090818 41.JPG

Middelgrunden offshore wind farm

Copenhagen is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.[86] The municipal policy is to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% before the end of 2015.[87] In 2001 a large offshore wind farm was built just off the coast of Copenhagen at Middelgrunden. It produces about 4% of the city's energy.[88] Years of substantial investment in sewage treatment have improved water quality in the harbour to an extent that the inner harbour can be used for swimming with facilities at a number of locations.[89]

Copenhagen aims to be carbon-neutral by 2025. Commercial and residential buildings are to reduce electricity consumption by 20 percent and 10 percent respectively, and total heat consumption is to fall by 20 percent by 2025. Renewable energy features such as solar panels are becoming increasingly common in the newest buildings in Copenhagen. District heating will be carbon-neutral by 2025. New buildings must now be constructed according to Low Energy Class ratings and in 2020 near net-zero energy buildings. By 2025, 75% of trips should be made on foot, by bike, or by using public transit. The city plans that 20-30% of cars will run on electricity or biofuel by 2025. The investment is estimated at $472 million public funds and $4.78 billion private funds.[90]

The city's architectural planning authorities continue to take full account of these priorities. Special attention is given both to climate issues and efforts to ensure maximum application of low-energy standards. Priorities include recycling rainwater, green roofs and efficient waste management solutions. In city planning, streets and squares are to be designed to encourage cycling and walking rather than driving.[91]

As a result of its commitment to high environmental standards, Copenhagen has been praised for its green economy, becoming the world's leading green city in the 2012 Global Green Economy Index.[92] It has also received the title of "European Green Capital 2014" as a result of its environmental record and its ambitious goals. Mention was made of the city's efforts to work with companies, universities and organisations in order to further green growth, the "Green Laboratory" component in its North Harbour project, and its efforts to increase the proportion of the population cycling to work to 50% by 2015.[93]

Demographics and society

File:Christiansborg, Copenhagen.jpg

Christiansborg Palace which seats the Danish Parliament, the Danish Prime Minister's Office and the Danish Supreme Court.

Statistics from fourth quarter 2013 show that 439,824 (77.3%) of the population of Copenhagen Municipality were of Danish origin, 41,423 immigrants and 4,628 descendants from Western countries (8.1%), 56,026 immigrants and 27,099 descendants from non-Western countries (14.6%).[2]


Depending on the boundaries used, the population of Copenhagen differs. Statistics Denmark has never specified the geographical area of urban Copenhagen, but it is known to consist of Copenhagen Municipality, Frederiksberg and 16 of the 20 municipalities in the old counties Copenhagen and Roskilde, though five of them only partially.[94] The urban area of Copenhagen has a population of 1,230,728 inhabitants as of 2013, with a total of 1,937,611 inhabitants in the overall metropolitan area as 2012; the latter is equivalent to the local traffic area and ticket fare zones, covering 3,030 square kilometres (1,170 square miles).[95]

Based on a 10%-isoline (data from 2002) in which at least 10% of the population commutes into central parts of the Copenhagen area, most of Zealand would be covered and this area has a population of about 2.3 million inhabitants.[96]

Since the opening of the Øresund Bridge in 2000, commuting between Zealand and Scania in Sweden has increased rapidly, leading to a wider, integrated area. Known as the Øresund Region, it has 3.8 million inhabitants (of which 2.5 million live in the Danish part of the region).[97]


See also: Religion in Denmark

The majority of those living in Copenhagen are members of the Lutheran Church of Denmark, although the 61.6% specifically confirming their membership by paying church taxes is well below the national average of 79.1% according to 2013 figures.[98] There are also several other Christian communities in the city, of which the largest is Roman Catholic.[99] The second most significant religion practised in the city is Islam. While there are no official statistics, most of the estimated 150,000 Muslims in the country live in Copenhagen, with the highest concentration in Nørrebro and the Vestegnen.[100] There are some 7,000 Jews in Denmark, most of them in the Copenhagen area where there are several synagogues.[101]

Quality of living

For a number of years, Copenhagen has ranked high in international surveys for its quality of life. Its stable economy together with its education services and level of social safety make it attractive for locals and visitors alike. Although it is one of the world's most expensive cities, it is also one of the most liveable with its public transport, facilities for cyclists and its environmental policies.[102] In elevating Copenhagen to "most liveable city" in 2013, Monocle pointed to its open spaces, increasing activity on the streets, city planning in favour of cyclists and pedestrians, and features to encourage inhabitants to enjoy city life with an emphasis on community, culture and cuisine.[103] Other sources have ranked Copenhagen high for its business environment, accessibility, restaurants and environmental planning.[104] For students, however, Copenhagen ranks only No. 39 for student friendliness in 2012. Despite a top score for quality of living, its scores were low for employer activity and affordability.[105]


File:Copenhavn port.jpg

The port of Copenhagen

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Scandinavian headquarters for the Swiss pharmaceutical company Ferring Pharmaceuticals with the metro in front

Copenhagen is not only the economic and financial centre of Denmark but is a major business centre for the entire Scandinavian-Baltic region. Statistics for 2010 show that of the 350,000 people working in Copenhagen, the vast majority are employed in the service sector, especially transport and communications, trade, and finance, while less than 10,000 work in the manufacturing industries. The public sector workforce is around 110,000, including education and healthcare.[106] From 2006 to 2011, the economy grew by 2.5% in Copenhagen and Copenhagen Municipality while it fell by some 4% in the rest of Denmark.[107]

In Dansk Industri's 2013 survey of employment factors in 96 Danish municipalities, Copenhagen came in first place for educational qualifications and for the development of private companies in recent years but fell to No. 86 in local companies' assessment of the employment climate. The survey revealed considerable dissatisfaction in the level of dialogue companies enjoyed with the municipal authorities.[108] 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.[109] In the 2011 UBS survey of prices and earnings, Copenhagen had fallen to fifth place for price levels while it held third place in gross wage levels and was said to have the highest purchasing power in terms of gross hourly wages although it was only in 12th place in terms of domestic purchasing power.[110]

Copenhagen is home to a number of international companies including A.P. Møller-Mærsk, Novo Nordisk, Carlsberg and Novozymes.[111] The city also has successful business clusters in several innovative sectors including information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and clean technology.[112]

Tourism is also an increasingly important sector for Copenhagen's economy, reaching record numbers in 2012 for the third year in succession. The number of room nights reached 8.1 million, up 25% since 2008. Between 2011 and 2012, room nights increased 9.2% overall, tallying a rise of 39% for Chinese visitors. The numbers of airline and cruise passengers visiting the city were also at new highs while turnover for congress tourism reached DKK 1.2 billion with a total of 57 congresses in the year. [113]

Copenhagen has a service oriented economy. Life science is a key sector with extensive research and development activities. In collaboration with Sweden, Medicon Valley is being developed as a central sector of interest across the entire Øresund Region. Major Danish biotech companies like Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck, both of which are among the 50 largest pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the world, are located in the greater Copenhagen area.[114] Shipping is also an import sector with Maersk, the world's largest shipping company, having their world headquarters in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen has some of the highest gross wages in the world.[115] 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.[116][117]

Medicon Valley

Copenhagen is rich in companies and institutions with a focus on research and development within the biotechnology and life science sectors.[118] Two of the 50 largest pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the world are located in the greater Copenhagen area. The biotechnology and life science cluster in Copenhagen and the rest of the Øresund Region is one of the strongest in Europe. Known as Medicon Valley, it is a collaborative venture supported by both Denmark and Sweden. The aim is to strengthen the region's position and to promote cooperation between companies and academia. Hundreds of companies have been established in the area, the majority on the Danish side of the sound.[119][120]


Launched in 2010, the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster is the focal point of a cooperative effort between public authorities, universities, research institutions and cleantech companies. By 2012, the initiative involved 533 companies in the Greater Copenhagen area, up form 396 in 2010. The service sector, with 44% of companies, was the top sector followed by wholesale and retail trade (22%) and production (20%). The cluster employed more than 85,000 people in 2010, down from 94,000 in 2008.[121] The region's most important cleantech research institutions are the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School,[122] Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy and the Technical University of Denmark (of which Risø is now part). In 2012, companies in the Cleantech Cluster experienced growth as well as an increase in the launching of new products and services.[123]


The city's appearance today is shaped by the key role it has played as a regional centre for centuries. Copenhagen has a multitude of districts, each with its distinctive character and representing its own period. Other distinctive features of Copenhagen include the abundance of water, its many parks, and the bicycle paths that line most streets.[124]


See also: Architecture in Copenhagen and List of buildings in and around Copenhagen
File:Amagertorv, Copenhagen.jpg

Amagertorv square dates back to the Middle Ages

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Nyhavn, the seventeenth century waterfront, with its colourful buildings

The oldest section of Copenhagen's inner city is often referred to as Middelalderbyen (The Medieval City).[125] However, the city's most distinctive district is Frederiksstaden, developed during the reign of Frederick V. It has the Amalienborg Palace at its centre and is dominated by the dome of Frederik's Church (or the Marble Church) and several elegant 18th-century Rococo mansions.[126] The inner city of Copenhagen includes Slotsholmen, a little island on which Christiansborg Palace stands and Christianshavn with its canals.[127] Around the historical city centre lies a band of congenial residential boroughs (Vesterbro, Inner Nørrebro, Inner Østerbro) dating mainly from late 19th century. They were built outside the old ramparts when the city was finally allowed to expand beyond its fortifications.[128]

Sometimes referred to as "the City of Spires", Copenhagen is known for its horizontal skyline, broken only by the spires and towers of its churches and castles. Most characteristic of all is the Baroque spire of the Church of Our Saviour with its narrowing external spiral stairway that visitors can climb to the top.[129] Other important spires are those of Christiansborg Palace, the City Hall and the former Church of St. Nikolaj that now houses a modern art venue. Not quite so high are the Renaissance spires of Rosenborg Castle and the "dragon spire" of Christian IV's former stock exchange, so named because it resembles the intertwined tails of four dragons.[130]

File:Marble Church front.jpg

The Marble Church in Frederiksstaden.

Recent years have seen a boom in modern architecture in Copenhagen[131] both for Danish architecture and for works by international architects. For a few hundred years, virtually no foreign architects had worked in Copenhagen, but since the turn of the millennium the city and its immediate surroundings have seen buildings and projects designed by top international architects. At the same time, a number of Danish architects have achieved success in Copenhagen and abroad. Buildings in Copenhagen have won RIBA European Awards four years in a row ("Sampension" in 2005,[132] "Kilen" in 2006,[133] "Tietgenkollegiet" in 2007 and the Royal Playhouse in 2008.[134]) The last three are all by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects.[135] At the 2008 World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Bjarke Ingels Group won an award for the World's Best Residential Building 2008 for a house in Ørestad.[136] In 2008 British design magazine Monocle named Copenhagen the World's best design city 2008.[137]

The boom in urban development and modern architecture has brought some changes to the city's skyline. A political majority has decided to keep the historical centre free of high-rise buildings, but several areas will see or have already seen massive urban development. Ørestad now has seen most of the recent development. Located near Copenhagen Airport, it currently boasts one of the largest malls in Scandinavia and a variety of office and residential buildings as well as the IT University and a high school.[138]


File:Rosenborg - park setting.jpg

Rosenborg Castle and park in central Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a green city with many parks, both large and small. King's Garden (Kongens Have), the garden of Rosenborg Castle, is the oldest and most frequented of them all.[139] It was Christian IV who first developed its landscaping in 1606. Every year it sees more than 2.5 million visitors[140] and in the summer months it is packed with sunbathers, picnickers and ballplayers. It serves as a sculpture garden with both a permanent display and temporary exhibits during the summer months.[139] Also located in the city centre are the Botanical Gardens noted for their large complex of 19th-century greenhouses donated by Carlsberg founder J. C. Jacobsen.[141] Fælledparken at 58 ha (140 acres) is the largest park in Copenhagen.[142] It is popular for sports fixtures and hosts several annual events including a free opera concert at the opening of the opera season, other open-air concerts, carnival and Labour Day celebrations, and the Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix, a race for antique cars. A historical green space in the northeastern part of the city is Kastellet, a well-preserved Renaissance citadel that now serves mainly as a park.[143] Another popular park is the Frederiksberg Garden, a 32-hectare romantic landscape park. It houses a colony of tame grey herons and other waterfowl.[144] The park offers views of the elephants and the elephant house designed by world-famous British architect Norman Foster of the adjacent Copenhagen Zoo, the largest zoo in Denmark.[145] Langelinie, a park and promenade along the inner Øresund coast, is home to one of Copenhagen's most-visited tourist attractions, the Little Mermaid statue.[146]

In Copenhagen, many cemeteries double as parks, though only for the more quiet activities such as sunbathing, reading and meditation. Assistens Cemetery, the burial place of Hans Christian Andersen, is an important green space for the district of Inner Nørrebro and a Copenhagen institution. The lesser known Vestre Kirkegaard is the largest cemetery in Denmark (54 ha (130 acres)) and offers a maze of dense groves, open lawns, winding paths, hedges, overgrown tombs, monuments, tree-lined avenues, lakes and other garden features.[147]

It is official municipal policy in Copenhagen that by 2015 all citizens must be able to reach a park or beach on foot in less than 15 minutes.[148] In line with this policy, several new parks, including the innovative Superkilen in the Nørrebro district, have been completed or are under development in areas lacking green spaces.[149]

Landmarks by district

Indre By

File:Christianshavns Kanal boats.jpg

Christianshavn Canal

The historic centre of the city, Indre By or the Inner City, features many of Copenhagen's most popular monuments and attractions. The area known as Frederiksstaden, developed by Frederik V in the second half of the 18th century in the Rococo style, has the four mansions of Amalienborg, the royal residence, and the wide-domed Marble Church at its centre.[150] Directly across the water from Amalienborg, the recently completed Copenhagen Opera stands on the island of Holmen.[151] To the south of Frederiksstaden, the Nyhavn canal is lined with colourful houses from the 17th and 18th centuries, many now with lively restaurants and bars.[152] The canal runs from the harbour front to the spacious square of Kongens Nytorv which was laid out by Christian V in 1670. Important buildings include Charlottenborg Palace, famous for its art exhibitions, the Thott Palace (now the French embassy), the Royal Danish Theatre and the Hotel D'Angleterre, dated to 1755.[153] Other landmarks in Indre By include the parliament building of Christiansborg, the City Hall and Rundetårn, originally an observatory. There are also several museums in the area including Thorvaldsen Museum dedicated to the 18th-century sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.[154] Closed to traffic since 1964, Strøget, the world's oldest and longest pedestrian street, runs the 3.2 km (2.0 mi) from Rådhuspladsen to Kongens Nytorv. With its speciality shops, cafés, restaurants, and buskers, it is always full of life and includes the old squares of Gammel Torv and Amagertorv, each with a fountain.[155] Rosenborg Castle on Øster Voldgade was built by Christian IV in 1606 as a summer residence in the Renaissance style. It houses the Danish crown jewels and crown regalia, the coronation throne and tapestries illustrating Christian V's victories in the Scanian War.[156]


File:Halmtorvet seen from Øksnehallen.jpg

Halmtorvet in Vesterbro

Christianshavn lies to the southeast of Indre By on the other side of the harbour. The area was developed by Christian IV in the early 17th century. Impressed by the city of Amsterdam, he employed Dutch architects to create canals within its ramparts which are still well preserved today.[19] The canals themselves, branching off the central Christianshavn Canal and lined with house boats and pleasure craft are one of the area's attractions. Another interesting feature is Freetown Christiania, a fairly large area which was initially occupied by squatters during student unrest in 1971. Today it still maintains a measure of autonomy. The inhabitants openly sell drugs on "Pusher Street" as well as their arts and crafts. Other buildings of interest in Christianshavn include the Church of Our Saviour with its spiralling steeple and the magnificent Rococo Christian's Church. Once a warehouse, the North Atlantic House now displays culture from Iceland and Greenland and houses the Noma restaurant, known for its Nordic cuisine.[157][158]


File:Nørrebrogade - beginning.jpg

Dronning Louises Bro leading into Nørrebrogade

Vesterbro, to the southwest of Indre By, begins with the Tivoli Gardens, the city's top tourist attraction with its fairground atmosphere, its Pantomime Theatre, its Concert Hall and its many rides and restaurants.[159] The Carlsberg quarter has some interesting vestiges of the old brewery of the same name including the Elephant Gate and the Ny Carlsberg Brewhouse.[160] The Tycho Brahe Planetarium is located on the edge of Skt. Jørgens Sø, one of the Copenhagen lakes.[161] Halmtorvet, the old haymarket behind the Central Station, is an increasingly popular area with its cafés and restaurants. The former cattle market Øksnehallen has been converted into a modern exhibition centre for art and photography.[162] Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, built by Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen for the airline Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) between 1956 and 1960 was once the tallest hotel in Denmark with a height of 69.60 m (228.3 ft) and the city's only skyscraper until 1969.[163] Completed in 1908, Det Ny Teater (the New Theatre) located in a passage between Vesterbrogade and Gammel Kongevej has become a popular venue for musicals since its reopening in 1994, attracting the largest audiences in the country.[164]


File:Gefion fountain, Copenhagen.jpg

The Gefion Fountain

Nørrebro to the northwest of the city centre has recently developed from a working-class district into a colourful cosmopolitan area with antique shops, ethnic food stores and restaurants. Much of the activity is centred around Sankt Hans Torv.[165] Copenhagen's historic cemetery, Assistens Kirkegård half way up Nørrebrogade, is the resting place of many famous figures including Søren Kierkegaard, Niels Bohr and Hans Christian Andersen but is also used by locals as a park and recreation area.[166]


Just north of the city centre, Østerbro is an upper middle-class district with a number of fine mansions, some now serving as embassies.[167] The district stretches from Nørrebro to the waterfront where the statue of The Little Mermaid can be seen from the promenade known as Langelinie. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, it was created by Edvard Eriksen and unveiled in 1913.[168] Not far from the Little Mermaid, the old Citadel (Kastellet) can be seen. Built by Christian IV, it is one of northern Europe's best preserved fortifications. There is also a windmill in the area.[169] The large Gefion Fountain (Gefionspringvandet) designed by Anders Bundgaard and completed in 1908 stands close to the southeast corner of Kastellet. Its figures illustrate a Nordic legend.[170]


File:Frederiksberg Slot set fra plænen.jpg

Frederiksberg Palace

Strictly speaking a separate municipality, Frederiksberg lies to the west of Nørrebro and Indre By and north of Vesterbro. Its landmarks include Copenhagen Zoo founded in 1869 with over 250 species from all over the world and Frederiksberg Palace built as a summer residence by Charles IV who was inspired by Italian architecture. Now a military academy, it overlooks the extensive landscaped gardens of Frederiksberg Park with its follies, waterfalls, lakes and decorative buildings.[171] The wide tree-lined avenue of Frederiksberg Allé connecting Vesterbrogade with the Frederiksberg Park has long been associated with theatres and entertainment. While a number of the earlier theatres are now closed, the Betty Nansen Theatre and Aveny-T are still active.[172]

Other districts

Not far from Copenhagen Airport on the Kastrup coast, The Blue Planet completed in March 2013 now houses the national aquarium. With its 53 aquariums, it is the largest facility of its kind in Scandinavia.[173] Grundtvig's Church, located in the northern suburb of Bispebjerg, was designed by P.V. Jensen Klint and completed in 1940. A rare example of Expressionist church architecture, its striking west façade is reminiscent of a church organ.[174]

Culture and contemporary life

File:Copenhagen - the little mermaid statue - 2013.jpg

The statue of the Little Mermaid, an icon of the city and a popular tourist attraction.

Apart from being the national capital, Copenhagen also serves as the cultural hub of Denmark and wider Scandinavia. Since the late 1990s, it has undergone a transformation from a modest Scandinavian capital into a metropolitan city of international appeal in the same league as Barcelona and Amsterdam.[175] This is a result of huge investments in infrastructure and culture as well as the work of successful new Danish architects, designers and chefs.[131][176] Copenhagen Fashion Week, the largest fashion event in Northern Europe, takes place every year in February and August.[177][178]


See also: List of museums in and around Copenhagen

Copenhagen has a wide array of museums of international standing. The National Museum, Nationalmuseet, is Denmark's largest museum of archaeology and cultural history, comprising the histories of Danish and foreign cultures alike.[179] Denmark's National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst) is the national art museum with collections dating from the 12th century to the present. In addition to Danish painters, artists represented in the collections include Rubens, Rembrandt, Picasso, Braque, Léger, Matisse, Emil Nolde, Olafur Eliasson, Elmgreen and Dragset, Superflex and Jens Haaning.[180]

Another important Copenhagen art museum is the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek founded by second generation Carlsberg philanthropist Carl Jacobsen and built around his personal collections. Its main focus is classical Egyptian, Roman and Greek sculptures and antiquities and a collection of Rodin sculptures, the largest outside France. Besides its sculpture collections, the museum also holds a comprehensive collection of paintings of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters such as Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec as well as works by the Danish Golden Age painters.[181]

Louisiana is a museum of modern art situated on the coast just north of Copenhagen. It is located in the middle of a sculpture garden on a cliff overlooking Øresund. Its collection of over 3,000 items includes works by Picasso, Giacometti and Dubuffet.[182] The Danish Design Museum is housed in the 18th-century former Frederiks Hospital and displays Danish design as well as international design and crafts.[183]

Other museums include: the Thorvaldsens Museum, dedicated to the oeuvre of romantic Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen who lived and worked in Rome;[184] the Cisternerne museum dedicated to modern glass art, located in former cisterns that come complete with stalactites formed by the changing water levels;[185] and the Ordrupgaard Museum, located just north of Copenhagen, which features 19th-century French and Danish art and is noted for its works by Paul Gauguin.[186]

Entertainment and performing arts

File:Copenhagen Opera House at Night.jpg

The Copenhagen Opera House at night.

The new Copenhagen Concert Hall opened in January 2009. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it has four halls with the main auditorium seating 1,800 people. It serves as the home of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and along with the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is the most expensive concert hall ever built.[187] Another important venue for classical music is the Tivoli Concert Hall located in the Tivoli Gardens.[188] Designed by Henning Larsen, the Copenhagen Opera House (Operaen) opened in 2005. It is among the most modern opera houses in the world.[189] The Royal Danish Theatre also stages opera in addition to its drama productions. It is also home to the Royal Danish Ballet. Founded in 1748 along with the theatre, it is one of the oldest ballet troupes in Europe noted for its Bournonville style of ballet.[190]

File:Royal Danish Theatre, Copenhagen.jpg

The Royal Danish Theatre

Copenhagen has a significant jazz scene that has existed for many years. It developed when a number of American jazz musicians such as Ben Webster, Thad Jones, Richard Boone, Ernie Wilkins, Kenny Drew, Ed Thigpen, Bob Rockwell, Dexter Gordon, and others such as rock guitarist Link Wray came to live in Copenhagen during the 1960s. Every year in early July, Copenhagen's streets, squares, parks as well as cafés and concert halls fill up with big and small jazz concerts during the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. One of Europe's top jazz festivals, the annual event features around 900 concerts at 100 venues with over 200,000 guests from Denmark and around the world.[191]

The largest venue for popular music in Copenhagen is Vega in the Vesterbro district. It was chosen as "best concert venue in Europe" by international music magazine Live. The venue has three concert halls: the great hall, Store Vega, accommodates audiences of 1,550, the middle hall, Lille Vega, has space for 500 and Ideal Bar Live has a capacity of 250.[192] Every September since 2006, the Festival of Endless Gratitude (FOEG) has taken place in Copenhagen. This festival focuses on indie counterculture, experimental pop music and left field music combined with visual arts exhibitions.[193]

For free entertainment one can stroll along Strøget, especially between Nytorv and Højbro Plads, which in the late afternoon and evening is a bit like an impromptu three-ring circus with musicians, magicians, jugglers and other street performers.[194]


File:Koebenhavns Hovedbibliotek midterparti.JPG

Copenhagen's main public library

Most of Denmarks's major publishing houses are based in Copenhagen.[195]

These include the book publishers Gyldendal and Akademisk Forlag and newspaper publishers Berlingske and Politiken (the latter also publishing books).[196][197] Many of the most important contributors to Danish literature such as Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) with his fairy tales, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) and playwright Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754) spent much of their lives in Copenhagen. Novels set in Copenhagen include Baby (1973) by Kirsten Thorup, The Copenhagen Connection (1982) by Barbara Mertz, Number the Stars (1989) by Lois Lowry, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (1992) and Borderliners (1993) by Peter Høeg, Music and Silence (1999) by Rose Tremain, The Danish Girl (2000) by David Ebershoff, and Sharpe's Prey (2001) by Bernard Cornwell. Michael Frayn's 1998 play Copenhagen about the meeting between the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941 is also set in the city. From August 15–18, 1973, an oral literature conference took place in Copenhagen as part of the 9th International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.[198]

The Royal Library, Denmark's national library, which also serves as the library of the University of Copenhagen is the largest library in the Nordic countries with an almost complete collection of all printed Danish books since 1482. Founded in 1648, the library is located at four sites in the city, the main one being on the Slotsholmen waterfront.[199] Copenhagen's public library network has over 20 outlets, the largest being the Central Library (Københavns Hovedbibliotek) on Krystalgade in the inner city.[200]


File:Jailhouse at Nytorv, Copenhagen - Martinus Rørbye.jpg

Martinus Rørbye: Jailhouse at Nytorv (1831)

Copenhagen has a wide selection of art museums and galleries displaying both historic works and more modern contributions. They include Statens Museum for Kunst, the Danish national gallery, in the Østre Anlæg park and the adjacent Hirschsprung Collection specialising in the 19th and early 20th century. Kunsthal Charlottenborg in the city centre exhibits national and international contemporary art. Den Frie Udstilling near the Østerport Station exhibits paintings created and selected by contemporary artists themselves rather than by the official authorities. The Arken Museum of Modern Art is located in southwestern Ishøj.[201] Among artists who have painted scenes of Copenhagen are Martinus Rørbye (1803–1848),[202] Christen Købke (1810–1848)[203] and the prolific Paul Gustav Fischer (1860–1934).[204]

A number of notable sculptures can be see in the city. In addition to the Little Mermaid on the waterfront, there are two historic equestrian statues in the city centre: Jacques Saly's Frederik V on Horseback (1771) in Amalienborg Square[205] and the statue of Christian V on Kongens Nytorv created by Abraham-César Lamoureux in 1688 who was inspired by the statue of Louis XIII in Paris.[206] Rosenborg Castle Gardens contains several sculptures and monuments including August Saabye's Hans Christian Andersen, Aksel Hansen's Echo, and Vilhelm Bissen's Dowager Queen Caroline Amalie.[207]


For a broader look at this topic, see Danish cuisine.
File:Noma entrance.jpg

Noma is an example of Copenhagen's renowned experimental restaurants, and has gained two Michelin stars.

As of 2013, Copenhagen has 13 Michelin star restaurants, the most of any Scandinavian city.[208] The city is increasingly recognized internationally as a gourmet destination.[209] These include Den Røde Cottage, Formel B Restaurant, Grønbech & Churchill, Søllerød Kro, Kadeau, Kiin Kiin (Denmark's first Michelin-starred Asian gourmet restaurant), the French restaurant Kong Hans Kælder, Relæ, Restaurant AOC, and, each with two Michelin stars, Geranium and Noma (short for Danish: nordisk mad, English: Nordic food). Noma, was ranked as the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant in 2010, 2011 and 2012, sparking interest in the New Nordic Cuisine.[210]

Apart from the selection of upmarket restaurants, Copenhagen offers a great variety of Danish, ethnic and experimental restaurants. It is possible to find modest eateries serving open sandwiches, known as smørrebrød – a traditional, Danish lunch dish; however, most restaurants serve international dishes.[211] Danish pastry can be sampled from any of numerous bakeries found in all parts of the city. The Copenhagen Baker's Association dates back to the 1290s and Denmark's oldest confectioner's shop still operating, Conditori La Glace, was founded in 1870 in Skoubogade by Nicolaus Henningsen, a trained master baker from Flensburg.[212]

Copenhagen has long been associated with beer. Carlsberg beer has been brewed at the brewery's premises on the border between the Vesterbro and Valby districts since 1847 and has long been almost synonymous with Danish beer production. However, recent years have seen an explosive growth in the number of microbreweries so that Denmark today has more than 100 breweries, many of which are located in Copenhagen. Some like Nørrebro Bryghus also act as brewpubs where it is also possible to eat on the premises.[213][214]

Nightlife and festivals

Copenhagen has one of the highest number of restaurants and bars per capita in the world. The nightclubs and bars stay open until 5 or 6 in the morning, some even longer. Denmark has a very liberal alcohol culture and a strong tradition for beer breweries, although binge drinking is frowned upon and the Danish Police take driving under the influence very seriously.[215] Inner city areas such as Istedgade and Enghave Plads in Vesterbro, Sankt Hans Torv in Nørrebro and certain places in Frederiksberg are vibrant and full of life even during the late hours. Notable nightclubs include Bakken Kbh, HIVE, Jolene, The Jane on Gråbrødre Square, Karriere Bar, KB3, Rust, Vega Nighclub, Culture Box and Gefährlich, which also serves as a bar, café, restaurant, and art gallery.[216]

Copenhagen has several recurring community festivals, mainly in the summer. Copenhagen Carnival has taken place every year since 1982 during the Whitsun Holiday in Fælledparken and around the city with the participation of 120 bands, 2,000 dancers and 100,000 spectators.[217] Copenhagen Pride is a gay pride festival taking place every year in August. Among the events is "Tivoli goes pink" which ends with a parade. Copenhagen Distortion is a youth culture festival capturing the zeitgeist of the city. Every year (five days up to the first weekend of June) it attracts up to 100,000 people in the streets, shops, galleries, clubs, bars, in boats and buses, with a cultural focus on street culture, art and upfront dance music.[218]

Since 2010 the old B&W Shipyard at Refshaleøen in the Copenhagen harbour has been the location for the outdoor music festival Copenhell, taking place every year in mid June. The festival is a large gathering for heavy metal, hard rock and punk rock culture with concerts and other on-site entertainment drawing thousands of visitors every year. Its location close to the center of Copenhagen provides its visitors easy and quick access to Copenhagen both by public transportation and bycicle, as well as providing visitors with the possibility of accommodation in the citys many hostels and hotels. Since its inception in 2010 the festival has hosted concerts by such acts as Alice in Chains, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Slayer and many more.[219]

Amusement parks

File:Pantomime Theatre.jpg

The Pantomime Theatre, opened in 1874, is the oldest building in the Tivoli Gardens amusement park.

Copenhagen has the two oldest amusement parks in the world.[220][221]

Dyrehavsbakken, a fair-ground and pleasure-park established in 1583, is located in Klampenborg just north of Copenhagen in a forested area known as Dyrehaven. Created as an amusement park complete with rides, games and restaurants by Christian IV, it is the oldest surviving amusement park in the world.[220] Pierrot (Danish: Pjerrot), a nitwit dressed in white with a scarlet grin wearing a boat-like hat while entertaining children, remains one of the park's key attractions. In Danish, Dyrehavsbakken is often abbreviated as Bakken. There is no entrance fee to pay and Klampenborg Station on the C-line, is situated nearby.[222]

The Tivoli Gardens is an amusement park and pleasure garden located in central Copenhagen between the City Hall Square and the Central Station. It opened in 1843, making it the second oldest amusement park in the world. Among its rides are the oldest still operating rollercoaster Rutschebanen from 1915 and the oldest ferris wheel still in use, opened in 1943.[223] Tivoli Gardens also serves as a venue for various performing arts and as an active part of the cultural scene in Copenhagen.[224]


File:University Main Building.jpg

The University of Copenhagen main building

Copenhagen has over 94,000 students enrolled in its largest universities and institutions: University of Copenhagen (38,867 students),[225] Copenhagen Business School (19,999 students),[226] Metropolitan University College and University College Capital (10,000 students each),[227] Technical University of Denmark (7,000 students),[228] KEA (c. 4,500 students),[229] IT University of Copenhagen (2,000 students.) and Aalborg University – Copenhagen (2,300 students).[230]

Copenhagen's higher-education system relies on public universities. Most prominent among these is the University of Copenhagen. Founded in 1479, it is the oldest university in Denmark. A world-renowned research and teaching institution with campuses around the city, it forms part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), which encourages international collaboration between top universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Berkeley and The Australian National University. The University attracts some 1,500 international and exchange students every year. It has repeatedly been ranked as one of the best universities in Europe.[231]

File:Copenhagen business school.jpg

Copenhagen Business School

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Danmarks Tekniske Universitet, is located in Lyngby in the northern outskirts of Copenhagen. In 2013, it was ranked as one of the leading technical universities in Northern Europe.[232] The IT University of Copenhagen is Denmark's youngest university, a mono-faculty institution focusing on technical, societal and business aspects of information technology.[233]

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) has provided a practice-oriented complement to the scholarly investigation of the arts carried out at Danish universities for more than 250 years. It includes the historical School of Visual Arts, and has in later years come to include a School of Architecture, a School of Design and a School of Conservation.[234] Copenhagen Business School (CBS) is an EQUIS-accredited business school located in Frederiksberg.[235] There are also branches of both University College Capital and Metropolitan University College inside and outside Copenhagen.[236][237]



Parken Stadium

Copenhagen is home to a great number of fitness and health clubs owned by a number of chains including "Fitness World" and "Fitness dk".[238] They are popular with all age groups. In the summer, bikers, runners and strollers can be seen on the paths around the city's five rectangular lakes which total a distance of 6.4 km (4 mi). The municipal authorities encourage people to use bicycles as their primary form of transportation when moving around the city.[239]

The city has a variety of sporting teams. The major football teams are the historically successful FC København[240] and Brøndby. FC København plays at Parken in Østerbro. Formed in 1992, it is a merger of two older Copenhagen clubs, B 1903 (from the inner suburb Gentofte) and KB (from Frederiksberg).[241] Brøndby plays at Brøndby Stadion in the inner suburb of Brøndbyvester. BK Frem is based in the southern part of Copenhagen (Sydhavnen, Valby). Other teams are FC Nordsjælland (from suburban Farum), Fremad Amager, B93, AB, Frem, Lyngby and Hvidovre IF.[242]

File:Copenhagen Marathon 2008.jpg

Copenhagen Marathon 2008

Copenhagen has several handball teams—a sport which is particularly popular in Denmark. Of clubs playing in the "highest" leagues, there are Ajax, Ydun, and HIK (Hellerup).[242] The København Håndbold women's club has recently been established.[243] Copenhagen also has ice hockey teams, of which three play in the top league, Rødovre Mighty Bulls, Herlev Eagles and Hvidovre Ligahockey all inner suburban clubs. Copenhagen Ice Skating Club founded in 1869 is the oldest ice hockey team in Denmark but is no longer in the top league.[244]

Rugby union is also played in the Danish capital with teams such as CSR-Nanok, Copenhagen Business School Sport Rugby, Frederiksberg RK and Rugbyklubben Speed. Rugby League is now played in Copenhagen, with the national team playing out of Gentofte Stadion. The Danish Australian Football League, based in Copenhagen is the largest Australian rules football competition outside of the English speaking world.[242][245]

Copenhagen Marathon, Copenhagen's annual marathon event, was established in 1980.[246] Round Christiansborg Open Water Swim Race is a 2 km (1.2 mi) open water swimming competition taking place each year in late August.[247] This amateur event is combined with a 10 km (6 mi) Danish championship.[248] In 2009 the event included a 10 km (6 mi) FINA World Cup competition in the morning. Copenhagen hosted the 2011 UCI Road World Championships in September 2011, taking advantage of its bicycle-friendly infrastructure. It was the first time that Denmark had hosted the event since 1956, when it was also held in Copenhagen.[249]


File:KastrupAirport Panorama.jpg

Copenhagen Airport

The greater Copenhagen area has a very well established transportation infrastructure making it a hub in Northern Europe. Copenhagen Airport, opened in 1925, is Scandinavia's largest airport, located in Kastrup on the island of Amager. It is connected to the city centre by metro and main line railway services.[250] October 2013 was a record month with 2.2 million passengers, and November 2013 figures reveal that the number of passengers is increasing by some 3% annually, about 50% more than the European average.[251]

File:4th generation S-train at Copenhagen Central Station.jpg

4th generation S-train at Copenhagen Central Station

Copenhagen is served by a daily ferry connection to Oslo in Norway.[252] In 2012, Copenhagen Harbour handled 372 cruise ships and 840,000 passengers. As a result of the growth in the cruise industry facilities are being expanded and improved. At the World Travel Awards in 2012, Copenhagen Port was once again named Europe's leading cruise port after receiving the award every year since 2008.[253]


Cycling to work

The Copenhagen Metro and the S-train networks are used by about half of the city's passengers, the remainder using bus services. Nørreport Station near the city centre serves passengers travelling by main-line rail, S-train, metro and bus. Some 750,000 passengers make use of public transport facilities every day.[254] Copenhagen Central Station is the hub of the DSB railway network serving Denmark and international destinations.[255]

Copenhagen has an extensive road network including motorways connecting the city to other parts of Denmark and to Sweden over the Øresund Bridge.[254] The car is still the most popular form of transport within the city itself, representing two-thirds of all distances travelled. This can however lead to serious congestion in rush hour traffic.[256]

The Danish capital is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world.[257] Every day 1.2 million km are covered by Copenhagen's cyclists. Some 37% of all citizens cycle to work, school or university. The city's bicycle paths are extensive and well used. Bicycle paths are often separated from the main traffic lanes and sometimes have their own signal systems, giving the cyclists a lead of a couple of seconds to accelerate.[258]


See also: Healthcare in Denmark
File:Rigshospitalet Copenhagen 2005-11.jpg


Promoting health is an extremely important issue for Copenhagen's municipal authorities. Central to its sustainability mission is its "Long Live Copenhagen" (Længe Leve København) scheme in which it has the goal of increasing the life expectancy of citizens, improving quality of life through better standards of health, and encouraging more productive lives and equal opportunities.[259] The city has targets to encourage people to exercise regularly and to reduce the number who smoke and consume alcohol.[259]

Copenhagen University Hospital forms a conglomerate of several hospitals in Region Hovedstaden and Region Sjælland, together with the faculty of health sciences at the University of Copenhagen; Rigshospitalet and Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen belong to this group of university hospitals.[260]

Rigshospitalet began operating in March 1757 as Frederiks Hospital,[261]
and became state-owned in 1903. With 1,120 beds, Rigshospitalet has responsibility for 65,000 inpatients and approximately 420,000 outpatients annually. It seeks to be the number one specialist hospital in the country, with an extensive team of researchers into cancer treatment, surgery and radiotherapy.[262]  In addition to its 8,000 personnel, the hospital has training and hosting functions. It benefits from the presence of in-service students of medicine and other healthcare sciences, as well as scientists working under a variety of research grants. The hospital became internationally famous as the location of Lars von Trier's television horror mini-series The Kingdom. Bispebjerg Hospital was built in 1913, and serves about 400,000 people in the Greater Copenhagen area, with some 3,000 employees.[263] Other large hospitals in the city include Amager Hospital (1997),[264] Hvidovre Hospital (1970),[265] and Gentofte Hospital (1927).[266]


File:Politiken building.jpg

Politiken building on the City Hall Square

Many Danish media corporations are located in Copenhagen. DR, the major Danish public service broadcasting corporation collected their activities in a new headquarters, DR Byen, in 2006 and 2007. Similarly TV2 which is based in Odense has concentrated its Copenhagen activities in a modern media house in Teglholmen.[267] The two national daily newspapers Politiken and Berlingske Tidende and the two tabloids Ekstra Bladet and B.T. are based in Copenhagen.[268] Other important media corporations include Aller Media which is the largest publisher of weekly and monthly magazines in Scandinavia,[269] the Egmont media group[270] and Gyldendal, the largest Danish publisher of books.[271]

Copenhagen also has a sizable film and television industry. Nordisk Film, established in Valby, Copenhagen in 1906 is the oldest continuously operating film production company in the world.[217] In 1992 it merged with the Egmont media group and currently runs the 17-screen Palads Cinema in Copenhagen. Filmbyen (movie city), located in a former military camp in the suburb of Hvidovre, houses several movie companies and studios. Among the movie companies is Zentropa, co-owned by Danish movie director Lars von Trier who is behind several international movie productions as well as a founding force behind the Dogme Movement.[272] CPH:PIX is Copenhagen's international feature film festival, established in 2009 as a fusion of the 20-year-old Natfilm festival and the four-year-old CIFF. The CPH:PIX festival takes place in mid-April. CPH:DOX is Copenhagen's international documentary film festival, every year in November. On top of its documentary film programme of over 100 films, CPH:DOX includes a wide event programme with dozens of events, concerts, exhibitions and parties all over town.[273]

Notable people

Twin cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Denmark




See also

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Further reading

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