Interesting Facts about Copenhagen
1. Copenhagen is the largest city in Scandinavia.
2. Random fact: The tallest building in downtown Copenhagen, the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, was Copenhagen's first skyscraper when it was built in 1960 and remains the sole high-rise in the city center.
3. Around 28 percent of Copenhagen burnt down in the Great Fire of October 1728, amounting to a staggering 1,660 houses.
4. Interesting fact: Copenhagen was once a walled city, where passage was only possible at one of the town's three 'ports' – Vesterport, Østerport and Nørreport.
5. Copenhagen has been rated as the world's top cities for cyclists. Copenhageners cycle a total of 1.2 km every day along 340 km of cycle lanes.
6. The city has been under siege twice: Once in 1523, when it was captured by the Swedes, and again in 1807, when Copenhagen's inhabitants were besieged by the English army for four days and nights.
7. Fun fact: The world's first official sex change operation was performed in Copenhagen in 1952, when former GI George Jorgensen became Christine Jorgensen – a prelude to Copenhagen's permissive reputation of the '60s and '70s, perhaps?
8. Around 30 percent of the Danish population – 1.8 million out of 5.4 million – live in the Copenhagen Metropolitan area.
9. Gastro fact: Copenhagen has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in Scandinavia, with a total of 12; twice as many as Stockholm.
10. Eco fact: Copenhagen's harbor has been thoroughly cleaned in the past decade: So well, in fact, that the inner harbor is now clean enough to swim in.
11. Copenhagen was voted the world's happiest city in 2007 – and rated the fourth most expensive in 2009.
12. Weird fact: The dragon spire of Copenhagen's old Stock Exchange, Børsen – now home to the Danish Chamber of Commerce – was created by a designer of fireworks.
Things to See in Copenhagen
Central Train Station
Copenhagen Airport Kastrup
Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square)
The Round Tower
From sleepy fishing village to smart Metropol, Copenhagen's thousand-year history has seen its share of war, pestilence and hardship, coming out relatively unscathed from this sometimes turbulent past as a personable, relaxed capital known worldwide for its liberal outlook and green focus.
Founded around the year 1000 AD on the island of Slotsholmen
, Copenhagen was originally nothing more than a collection of wooden fishermen's houses on a marshy islet. In 1160, Bishop Absalon founded the stronghold he named after himself, the remains of which can still be seen under present-day Christiansborg
. Growing as a port thanks to the thriving herring trade in the Øresund, sleepy "Havn" became "Kjøbmandehavn" (Merchant's Harbor) and was proclaimed as capital of Denmark in 1443.
After having long since converted to Christianity, the reformation came to Denmark in the 1500s, and Lutheran Protestantism has been the state religion ever since. The 16th and 17th centuries saw the rise of a truly renaissance king, Christian IV, who still known today as the most fascinating and ambitious of all Denmark's monarchs. As a visionary builder, he was responsible for the construction of the Round Tower
and Rosenborg Palace
, among many other grandiose buildings, yet he was also responsible for some of the country's most futile (not to mention expensive) wars against both Germany and Sweden.
After wars with Sweden over much of the 1600s, the following century was to take around one-third of Copenhagen's population to an early grave in the great plague of 1711-12. In addition, two great fires (the first, and worst, in 1728 and the other in 1795) destroyed thousands of houses, churches and landmark buildings in the Inner City, meaning that much of Copenhagen's architecture dates from an extensive rebuilding program in the late 18th century. The early 19th century, meanwhile, brought the Napoleonic wars to northern Europe; siding with the French, Copenhagen became the target for British attacks and in 1807 came under siege for four days.
In more recent times, Copenhagen has left its warring days behind and instead developed a reputation as a permissive, liberal capital, an image epitomized by the "Free City" of Christiania
. The new millennium has seen a trend toward new building and dynamic, green-positive urban planning that includes the promotion of Copenhagen as the world's most bike-positive city.