Monday, August 31, 2009

The West Wall, part III

To keep the grass short and the shrubs away the keepers of the West Wall use a lawn mower mark 1, also called sheep. Around the areas that have been cleared, so it's now possible to see the old bunkers, the sheep are kept free ranging. These creatures are cheap, reliable and friendly to both environment and visitors alike, even though they tend to be a bit inquisitive. They also have the advantage of being able to "cut" the grass on the steep slopes of the ravelins.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The West Wall, part II

All along the fortification ran a road behind the lines, at strategic places ammunition bunkers and barracks were placed and in front of the lines the area was kept free so there were clear lines of fire out to 1.000 m. To man these fortifications along with the other forts and batteries around Copenhagen a total of 40.000 men were needed.

The West Wall was never tested in combat as the Danish government managed to keep Denmark neutral during WWI and the fortifications were abandoned in 1920. Tomorrow I'll show you the low tech way of keeping the greenery at bay on the ravelins.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The West Wall

In a great arch around Copenhagen 10 km from the city center lies a green belt. When exploring this you'll suddenly be confronted with a sight like this bunker. This is the remains of the greatest Danish fortification, the West Wall around Copenhagen, built in the late 19th century to defend Copenhagen against an attack.

The fortifications are 13 km long with ramparts, ravelins, bunkers and gun positions with a moat in front of it and a lot of overlapping fields of fire. It can be a bit difficult to see large parts of the wall due to growth but in some areas the old bunkers and their surroundings have been cleared, so it's now possible to take a closer look at this piece of history. More about the West Wall tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Big guns

Charlottenlundfortet, the Fort Charluttenlund, is another coastal battery around Copenhagen. This one should protect Renden, the channel running into Copenhagen Harbour, against enemy ships coming from the north using two of the biggest guns around at the time. It was built in 1888 - 89 as an open canon battery and converted to a real coastal battery in 1910.

The cannons were replaced with twelve 29 cm howitzers that could penetrate the decks of the battle ships instead of the better armored hulls. The fort was abandoned in 1932 and used as a park. In 1950 a camping site was established among the howitzers and in summertime it can still be a bit crowded between the caravans and tents.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More old concrete

Yesterday I told you about Kongelundsfortet. Here are as promised some more photos from there. This is a paradise for photos of decay and abandonment. The buildings and ramparts are not kept in pristine condition and only when totally overgrown or dangerous to the visitors is work being done.

It's worth a visit though if you want to train your skills as an urban explorer or just want to wander about in peace and quiet and dream yourself back to the age of big guns. Tomorrow I'll show you some really big guns that are open for the public.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Old concrete

On the southern tip of the island of Amager is a derelict and seemingly abandoned bunch of concrete buildings and earthen ramparts. This is the Kongelundsfort or Fort Kongelund, a part of the fortifications of Copenhagen that has been abolished for many years. This fort was built as a coastal battery to protect the minefields that would have been laid in the Bay of Køge in the event of war.

It was built in 1914 - 1916 and converted in 1959 to a radar station for the NIKE missile batteries that would have protected Copenhagen from aerial attack during the Cold War. In 1982 it was abandoned by the military and later turned over to Dragør Municipality. The barracks are used for asylum seekers and the rest of the fort is open to the public. I'll show some more photos of this fort tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Watch tower

No, this is not the watch tower from the local prison, but the watch tower at Dragør Harbour. I'm not sure exactly what they are looking for up there, as this is the only one of its kind I've seen in Denmark. Maybe it's got something to do with the bridge over Øresund, perhaps a watch tower for pilots (not the flying kind but the kind that guides ships through narrow straits)?

Monday, August 24, 2009

A pitch house

On Dragør Harbour is this funny little house. It's called a pitch house or cooking house and it was used to boil tar and pitch for the boats and to cook meals for visiting sailors. The house is from 1770 and it replaced an older one that was torn down when the harbour was expanded. This house was a necessity in an age where open fire on board the boats was strictly prohibited when moored due to the risk of fire; open fire and wooden boats covered with tar, hemp ropes and cotton sails make for a bad combination. These houses were found in all harbours but only three remains in Denmark, one each in Dragør, Assens and Ærøskøbing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A yellow town

The town of Dragør on Amager 12 km from Copenhagen is known for its old quarter next to the harbour. In this area almost all of the houses are yellow, small and very close to each other. To walk around here is almost like entering a maze with the many narrow alleys and identically houses. Dragør has been a fishing village since the 12th Century and the main catch has been herrings, so the old houses were used by the fishermen, dockworkers and merchants. Its heyday ended when the sailing ships were replaced by steam in the 1880's and now it's a sleepy but picturesque town.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A nice harbour

In Dragør on eastern Amager is a little town called Dragør. Even though this is just in the outskirts of Copenhagen this little town has a really nice little harbour complete with original fishing boats and lots of atmosphere. A perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon if you want to relax. Tomorrow I'll show you some of the houses in this place because they too will take you back in time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A village with two ponds

Even though it's only a few minutes drive from the center of Copenhagen and it's got a steady stream of aircrafts thundering overhead, the village of Store Magleby, that I told about yesterday, still got its village look; small thatched houses, courtyard farms and not one but two village ponds. The two ponds are very different.

The northern one is very well-groomed and rather large, while the southern one is small, a bit messy but very cosy complete with its very own pair of mallards.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Dutch Church in Copenhagen

The island of Amager lies just south-east of Copenhagen with parts of the city sprawling on it. With new developments in the western parts, a big airport in the middle and green areas to the south this island also have some small communities with a long history. One of these communities is the village of Store Magleby. Its history goes back to the medieval times but its glory first began in 1521 when the Danish King Christian II invited farmers from the Netherlands to settle here to grow better vegetables for the palace. All the way to the mid-19th century these farmers where exempt of taxes as long as they kept their language and culture.

Their church was this one in Store Magleby which they were given by the king. The plaque above tells that it was renovated by King Christian IV in 1611.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A sail maker

Between the house with the figurine and Hans Christian Andersen's house this old gate in Nyhavn testifies to this being an old harbour. Here lay P. Berg Sail, Flag and Compass Maker. The old sign is still painted above the gate but the store has since closed down. Now there is an antique store called the Smith and the Journalist.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A modest plaque

The answer to yesterday's question (which famous Dane lived in Nyhavn?) is the fairytale writer and poet Hans Christian Andersen. He lived in a house, number 67, near to the one with yesterday's figurine in 1845 - 1864 and a modest plaque in Danish tells about it. Actually he lived in Nyhavn on three different adresses, in number 20 in 1834 - 1938, in number 67 and last in number 18 in 1874 - 1875. So many of his fairytales where written with a view to the many sailing ships in the busy harbour. Maybe this inspired him to go on his many travels around Europe.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A rare figure

When visiting Rome or Malta or Madrid these religious figures are on every second house, but in Copenhagen they're not common. This rare one is from a house in Nyhavn (New Harbour), the 17th Century harbour area that is now more of an entertainment area with a lot of waterfront restaurants, cafés and bars of the more colourful type.

In this harbour you can still see old wooden ships at the quay, but they can be hard to see for the crowds that gather here on sunny days. One of the most famous Danes lived here for quite some years. Can you guess who that was? I'll reveal it tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


In Brønshøj in Copenhagen you can find these strange copper structures. Resembling old style army tents they are a monument to Carlstad, a Swedish encampment that lay here during the siege of Copenhagen in 1658-60. With 30.000 "citizens" this was almost a town in its own right. The Swedish forces never managed to conquer Copenhagen, even though they tried a massive assault February 11, 1659. The assault failed with thousands of Swedish dead and only about 30 Danish casualties. When the Swedish King Charles X died the following year the war ended.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Writing on the wall

In the area of Christianshavn (Christian's Harbour) in Copenhagen I found this sign in Danish on one of the old houses. Translated it says: Lord, Your judgments are incomprehensible and Your ways are past understanding. 1765AD. There's no explanation as to why this is the case, but maybe someone lost a house in a fire or a child due to sickness. Anyway, someone was clearly not content with his or her lot in life. This kind of signs can be found on many of the houses in the old areas of Copenhagen.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Having trouble finding your car on the parking lot? I doubt that the owner of this mini bus have that problem. On the other side he can't run from an accident, except that the police might not believe the description: "A hippie painted mini bus, you say? What have you been drinking...or smoking?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A village pond in the big city

Even though Brønshøj is a part of the Copenhagen municipality, it still got some leftovers from the time when it was only a village near the big city. This village pond is one of them. These village ponds (gadekær in Danish) were originally used to water the cattle and as a place to get water during fires, but now they are only kept for recreational reasons.

There's nothing like finding one of these with the obligatory bench next to it and just sit down and relax for an hour or two.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friendship forever and triple awards

Asta got a little surprise for me yesterday, and many thanks to her for that. She is the one who got me started as a blogger so it's a double honour to get these awards from her. Visit her place and leave her a nice comment, as she has certainly earned it.

I've been neglecting my "duties" as a blogger lately and not commented on all those wonderful blogs I tend to follow, and not even taken the time to answer the many nice comments on my own blog. This has mainly been due to me having a good long holiday, but the summer is nearly over so you'll soon hear more from me on your blog.

Building on water

With space at a premium it can be difficult to place those essential containers for the workers during construction. When building at the waterfront the solution is simple; use a raft. It gives some extra space and can be easily removed when the construction is finished. This one is from Kalvebod Brygge with the H.C. Ørsted Power Plant in the background.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Near Langelinje with the Little Mermaid stands this proud woman called Kristina, looking out over the harbour. She is a monument to the Danish Mormons who immigrated to Utah in 1852, thereby being the forerunners for the Danish wave of emigrants that left Denmark to seek their fortune in the new lands. The whole story of Kristina can be read here.

Monday, August 10, 2009


When leaving the inner Copenhagen you can sometimes be surprised be new kinds of details. This photo is of the wall around Brønshøj Church in the area of Brønshøj. Even though it's a part of the Copenhagen Municipality this area has a feel like a town of its own. The church is actually the oldest building in the municipality still in use, having been built in the 1180's. I'm not sure the wall is quite that old, but the inlaid stones are probably re-used ones. I'm just happy that I wasn't the one to whitewash, or in this case maybe redwash, around the stones.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Old companies

In many places in Copenhagen the signs of old companies can be seen. Some of these have been out of business for decades, but their logos and names are still visible on many buildings. This one is for KTAS, the Copenhagen Telephone Company that through mergers and privatization became TDC. The photo is from its head office in Nørregade where the last TDC employees left in 2008.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Yet another door

This is one of the more colourful doors I've seen in Copenhagen. It's the entrance for the Tove Ditlevsen School in Vesterbro, named after a Danish writer who grew up in the neighbourhood. Her early life in this workers area is the focal point of her books and poems.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wall of flames

Yesterdays photo was from the front of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. This photo is from the back, where a little garden with some beautiful statues. The back wall of the museum has a flaming motif, and even though I've been to the garden before, I only noticed these flames a couple of weeks ago. That only shows that it pays to get back to photograph what has been photographed before because then you often discover new details.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A bench with style

Outside Ny Garlsberg Glyptoteket in Copenhagen is a row of these stylish benches. The Glyptotek is an art museum given to Copenhagen by the brewer Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg. I've written about him on this blog before, so you might remember him as one who made a habit of giving art to Copenhagen. The museum's collection is a large one for a private collection and numbers classic statues, an Egyptian collection and Impressionist paintings among others. The bust above this bench shows Alexander Falguiére, French sculptor and painter. Tomorrow I'll show you the museum's wall of flames.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


In front of Copenhagen Cathedral, the Church of Our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) something seems out of place. On the right side of the entrance stands a large statue of Moses, on the left side stands ... an empty pedestal with a wanted poster for a mole. On it should have been King David, but he has disappeared. The story goes like this: In June 2008 a lorry crashed into King David and damaged the pedestal. The statue was sent to a workshop in South Harbour for repairs and storage, but on October 17th 2008 the 2.5 ton statue was stolen during the night. It hasn't been found again. Now the battle is raging between the church and the sculptor who should pay for a new one.

The original statue of King David
before its disappearance

And the mole? Well, on July 17th 2009 someone placed a little figurine of a mole in a heap of dirt on top of the pedestal. It got a week before it too was stolen in the middle of the night. All that is left on the empty pedestal is a little notice with a photo of the mole and the text: Wanted. Please come home again. David's Square. North Street. Maybe someone is starting his very own art collection and doesn't have the money to pay for it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Writing on the wall...and door...and

Yes, I know, I've been writing about this problem before, but I have to admit that graffiti of this kind makes me angry. Right next to Skt. Petri School from yesterday's post, across the street from the oldest church in inner Copenhagen, Skt. Petri Church, and in an area very much frequented by tourists you can find a facade like this. I know that it's the owner's responsibility but isn't there a way for the municipality to force a cleaning? A facade like this have a tendency to spread to the neighboring facades as well if it isn't dealt with quickly and that would be a shame. This is the old Latin Quarter of Copenhagen, an area that locally is called Pisserenden (literally The Piss Gutter), but do it really have to live fully up to its colourfull nickname?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bay Window

Some of the houses in inner Copenhagen have bay windows, although they're seldom as beautiful as this one. I found it in Larslejsstræde and it decorates Skt. Petri Plejehus Thymes og Pelts Stiftelse, a building from 1899 that originally was an early hospital and nursing home for the German congregation at Skt. Petri Church right across the street. Today the building is part of Skt. Petri School, a Danish-German private school that dates back to 1585, making it one of the oldest schools in Denmark. Skt. Petri Church is the German church in Copenhagen and it is the oldest church in the inner city still in use. Tomorrow I'll show you what I also found here...and that isn't as pretty as this bay window.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


As told in a previous post the area of Vesterbro in Copenhagen has seen some major changes in the last 10 or 15 years. What was old workers area blocks with one or two bedroom apartments, a lot of social housing and run-down buildings have been changed into an area that is, if not exactly up-scale then at least middle class with larger apartments fit for modern families. It's still an area with its share of problems but it's not the worst in Copenhagen anymore. When the old apartments were converted to bigger ones some of the staircases went obsolete like this one. They have kept the old painted sign of Coal, Charcoal and Firewood, perhaps because this was the old entrance to the coal cellar, where this was stored. Remember that before central heating each apartment or even each room had its own wood-burning stove.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Denmark Monument

If you go into the park Østre Anlæg, climb one of the old bastions and look under a lot of greenery you might be lucky to find this monument called the Denmark Monument. Not many people in Copenhagen know about, much less have seen it, and that is no coincidence. It was made in 1897 by sculptor Louis Hasselriis to celebrate King Christian IX and Queen Louise's golden wedding and placed at the entrance of the newly build Museum of Arts in one corner of the park. The woman on top is not the Queen but represents Mother Denmark. From the start it was the cause of much debate; critics called it the ugliest monument in Denmark and that it was way too bombastic. In 1919 the municipality caved in and decided that it wasn't fit to stand in front of the museum, so it was hidden in a little used part of the park where it stands today.