Would you like a glimpse of a 17th-century neighbourhood in Copenhagen that has retained its authentic maritime setting, then Christianshavn is the obvious place to go. With its original character, the district offers a rare experience in today’s Copenhagen. Narrow houses lining the cobblestones streets and picturesque canals tell the story of the former working-class neighbourhood that was built on several artificial islands.
Today Christianshavn is a trendy neighbourhood in Copenhagen, but it has not always been so. Christianshavn was built in a swampy area outside the city by King Christian IV who founded it as an extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. He envisioned that – in addition to being a fortification that would defend Copenhagen against attacks from outside – it should be a copy of Amsterdam. It would have canals criss-crossing with a main canal, Christianshavn Canal, cutting right through the center along which sailing ships would be docked. The district is today the part of Copenhagen that has the most nautical atmosphere.
Christianshavn Canal is lined by the two streets with the peculiar names Overgaden Oven Vandet and Overgaden Neden Vandet (‘the streets above and below the water’)
From Christianshavn sailors and merchants set off to trade on the seven seas, in accordance with the fact that Denmark was a great seafaring nation. Today, Denmark’s cultural heritage as a maritime nation is clearly seen along the beautiful canals.
As part of Christian IV’s military programme, Christianshavn became the ‘hub’ for 5 bastions – a part of Copenhagen’s defense structure. During the years 1618-1623 the marshy area was turned into a fortress town with bastions and a military infrastructure. The fortifications were reinforced in the 1660s and towards the end of the century. Still today, they are very well preserved.
Christianshavn’s urban development continued and over the last few centuries, the district has acquired a bohemian character and has become a hip and fashionable part of Copenhagen, where you will find everyone from students and families to artists and businesspeople. It is a melting pot of all sorts of people and social environments.
The canal streets are not far either from the more alternative, experimental society, Christiania, located just round the corner. The freetown Christiania was founded in a former military base when a group of people broke into it in 1971 after it being shut down.
Christiania is where the autonomous hippie culture flourished in Copenhagen during the following decades! Today it is largely a chill residential area – a tourist and cultural attraction with both music venues and ramshackle houses!
Another adjacent neighbourhood is Holmen to the west, known for Holmen Naval Base where fabulous ships are moored, as well as naval museums and interesting vessels.
Christianshavn has its own unique identity and is also the neighbourhood where you will find top-notch restaurants, including the world-famous Noma, romantic sunrises, fine galleries, and secret spots full of atmosphere. Renovated warehouses, cafés, and streetfood… a visit to Broens Gadekøkken near the bridge Inderhavnsbroen (the Inner Harbour Bridge), where a great variety of ethnic cuisines are represented, is a must. It opened in 2018 and offers meals and drinks from all over the world.
You can easily explore Christianshavn on a canal tour, or on foot through the cosy streets. Everywhere you will find a relaxed atmosphere.
A stone’s throw away – just on the other side of the harbour area you can catch a glimpse of Copenhagen’s renowned Royal Library, the Black Diamond. From the spectacular Circle Bridge you have the best view of the iconic building.
Knippelsbro Bridge is another eye-catching and famous auto traffic bridge across the Inner Harbour between Copenhagen city centre and Christianshavn. It is with its old copper towers important cultural heritage in Copenhagen. From the Cultural Tower you can enjoy panoramic views of the cityscape.
Another bridge that links central Copenhagen to Christianshavn, Lille Langebro, is a winding pedestrian bridge featuring a beautiful architectural design.
Today, Christianshavn has besides its houseboats, traditional houses along the Overgaden Oven Vandet and Overgaden Neden Vandet, and authentic feel also upscale apartments in the former warehouses, as well as cutting-edge new architecture. Among the heritage buildings are the Danish Sugar Factories which were established in 1872 and still stand with the beautiful, original gable.
Other cultural buildings include the North Atlantic House in Strandgade, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Christian Church. Also, a number of Danish companies have their headquarters at Christianshavn.
Christiansbro is a local neighbourhood with residential houses on the grounds of the former Burmeister & Wain Shipyard.
The spectacular Church of our Saviour with a twisted golden spire was built in the 1680s by King Christian V. His monogram can be seen inside the baroque church which is now a national treasure. One can climb the 400 steps to reach the top of the tower that is part of the skyline in this part of Copenhagen.
Christianshavn – Historic Gem in Copenhagen
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Christianshavn – Historic Gem in Copenhagen:
Travel In Culture