The historic old centre of Copenhagen, Indre Byen translates as 'the Inner City'. Bordered by the harbor and canals on its south-eastern side, Copenhagen's heart was once a walled city, enclosed by the gates of Vesterport, Østerport and Nørreport. While this neighborhood can boast of some of the city's oldest buildings and many attractive cobbled alleyways dating back to the Middle Ages, it underwent extensive rebuilding in the 18th and 19th centuries, after not one but two great fires, in 1728 and 1795.
These days, the spirit of an enclosed city is kept alive by the low level of traffic within the Indre By. An almost entirely pedestrian area, it is dominated by the walking street 'Strøget', a busy thoroughfare of high street shops and cafes that cuts right through the middle – from Rådhuspladsen square in the west to Kongens Nytorv square in the east, with the busy Amagertorv (and its landmark stork fountain) in the center.
While it can be hard to break from the herd and turn off onto the smaller streets around it, there are rewards. Try a tour of the narrow, medieval streets like Snaregade and Kompagnistræde to the south, for some real obscure shopping finds or a more alternative style of cafe bar. Southernmost is Gammel Strand, a popular tourist spot along the canal side offering restaurants, cafes and art museums.
Alternatively, venture north into the Latin Quarter, so referred to because of its academic past; while most of Copenhagen's University has moved out to Amager, the cute stores and bars of the neighborhood's winding streets and paved squares retain the student vibe. Besides the shops, important landmarks here include Rundetårn, the Round Tower – offering panoramic views of the city- and Vor Frue Kirke, Copenhagen's cathedral. The young and hip visitor should find plenty to amuse around Larsbjørnstræde, a maze of streets that continue to be known locally by the 500 year-old name 'Pisserenden' – yes, it is as rude as it sounds! The medieval home of the city's prostitutes and criminals, it was cleaned up after the 1728 fire, but has never quite shaken its 'walk-on-the-wild-side' image.
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