As I write, this is a city very much in the news, and in a different way than one might suppose. In this normally solid and respectable metropolis, there have been riots and unrest during recent days over a red brick building with a history. ‘Youth House’ is a hundred years old, was originally a community theatre for the labour movement, visited once by Lenin, and more recently a popular meeting place for left wing anarchists and musicians, and a centre for anti-capitalist activists. Squatters set up house there ten years ago when there was talk of it being sold. Despite their efforts a right wing religious group bought it in 2000, and last week the government began forcibly to evict the squatters. There are pictures in the papers this morning of the building being demolished.
We had a very different experience of the city when we visited it eight years ago on a freezing cold March weekend, the only colour against the handsome grey buildings being the soldiers in their red and blue uniforms as they changed the guard by the royal palace.
The famous Tivoli Gardens in the heart of the city was closed for the winter period, and is in fact open for only five months of the year. It claims to be ‘one of the world’s most thrilling entertainment complexes’, and its miniature gardens with 100,000 blooms must be a splendid sight in mid-summer.
We visited the National Museum, housed in the Prince’s Palace and full of fascinating historical and contemporary artefacts and information. There was a relaxed and welcoming feeling to this and other galleries that we visited, although sometimes we felt almost alone as people, clothed in heavy winter wear, hurriedly went about their business. The city spreads itself around an impressive port and you are never far away from the sea. When we were there a bridge and tunnel were being completed to unite the cities of Copenhagen and Malmo in Sweden.
It was opened in 2000 by the monarchs of both countries, and as a result Copenhagen has become the centre of an enlarged metropolitan area. Apparently the bridge has not been used as widely as had been hoped by motorists, but trains are doing good business. Notoriously expensive to live in, some Danes have moved to Sweden where property is cheaper, and commute to work in Copenhagen daily.
No visit to Copenhagen is complete without seeing the Little Mermaid, appropriately and unobtrusively sited near to the sea. And of course we saw the statue of Hans Christian Anderson whose fairy tales are legendry, one of which was the inspiration for the mermaid. We took the obligatory photos as we stood beside both statues.
Another lovely city and with a distinction all of its own.