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Hidden Copenhagen

12th July 2022

Reputed to be the happiest city in the world, Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, is known for its canals, excellent food – and a 19th Century amusement park, Tivoli Gardens. There’s also the Royal Palace, and the city is famous for once being home to the children’s writer, Hans Cristian Andersen. There’s a great community spirit and, of course, plenty of breweries!

As well as the better known things to do in this city, there are also many hidden ones to explore.

First up is Jens Olsen’s World Clock. As famous clocks go, Jens Olsen’s World Clock is a sight to behold. Sitting pretty in a tower at Copenhagen’s City Hall, this gilded horological masterwork is geared to calculate global times and dates, and planetary positions with remarkable precision. And, as long as it continues to be wound once every week, it will continue to display this information for the next 2,500 years. You will wonder at one of the most precise mechanical clocks in the world. It displays not just the local time, but also solar time, the exact time at locations around the globe, the relative positions of the stars and planets, sunrises and sunsets, the Gregorian calendar, the future dates of changing holidays, and more. It is a quite amazing sight.

Now something for winter sports enthusiasts. Copenhill is the world’s first combination re-usable energy power plant and fully functioning ski slope! Its boxy silver exterior, lean grey smoke-billowing towers, and blinking red lights are viewable from throughout Copenhagen. At the top of the 85-metre climb to the hill’s roof, visitors will find a fully-operational dry slope for skiers and an observation lookout with breathtaking views of the city. Visiting the slope is free, but if you want to ski you can buy a ticket and rent equipment in the gift shop at the base of the hill or online.

And on to Leif Sonne’s Bottled Beer Collection. Leif Sonne, an engineer from the small town of Svendborg, began collecting bottles of unopened beer as a simple hobby in 1968. Beginning with easily obtainable European varieties, he eventually expanded to include beers from all over the world.  By 1990,  the collection had grown to over 10,000 unique bottles and had outgrown Sonne’s house. The collection was moved to the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen in 1993 (fittingly, in fact, as a great deal of Sonne’s earliest acquisitions were made up of Carlsberg-affiliated brands), where it continued to expand under Mr. Sonne’s guidance.  By 2007, the collection had grown to more than 22,000 different bottles and was certified by Guinness World Records to be the largest collection of bottled beer in the world. Brilliant to behold.

Just across the street from the immensely popular Tivoli Gardens, you’ll find the Glyptotek, an art museum with a collection of more than 10,000 pieces. The museum’s main focus is antique sculptures from ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece as well as 19th-century French and Danish paintings. This place, though, offers so much more than that! With its large colourful halls, marble columns, intricate mosaic floors, and lots of natural light coming through the glass roofs, the building itself is spectacular. The best part about the Glyptotek, though, is its lush Winter Garden in the central courtyard of the museum. This tropical oasis contains lots of greenery, a beautiful fountain, and palm trees reaching toward the huge glass dome above the garden. A real hidden gem.

To see an amazing panoramic view of Copenhagen you should climb the Church of our SaviourThis baroque church, located in the neighbourhood of Christianshavn, is known for its black and golden serpentine spire with a winding external staircase for you to go up.

Climbing to the top of the spire is not particularly hard, but a few small sections in the tower are quite narrow where the staircase looks more like a ladder than steps. In total there are 400 steps, the last 150 of them are on the outside of the spire.

If you’re scared of heights, this place will most likely freak you out since you’ll be 90 metres above the street! The outer staircase has a sturdy handrail though, so it’s, of course, totally safe to be up there.

And finally somewhere to eat. Restaurant Koefoed in inner Copenhagen draws inspiration from the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. The love for Bornholm and the good ingredients from here is their focal point. Many of their ingredients come from farms on the island, with which they work closely, and the restaurant’s Nordic decor with raw, whitewashed arches and vaults is inspired by the unique round churches of Bornholm. The menus are varied and seasonal – and you absolutely must try their spectacular Smørrebrød!

Enjoy your trip to Copenhagen, and why not look first at our listing of 10 great books set in the city.

Tony for the TripFiction team

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