Copenhagen is nice city, but not one I’d consider among Europe’s most beautiful. An exception to this is Nyhavn, one of Copenhagen’s neighborhoods, which has undeniable appeal and charm. If there is a more stereotypical Scandanavian neighorhood, I don’t know of it.
Nyhavn was constructed by popular Danish King Christian V between 1670 to 1675. The harbor was dug by Swedish prisoners of war and provided access from the old inner city at Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square) to the sea.
Originally Nyhavn was a commercial harbor at which ships from around the world would dock. Most of its colorful buildings were built in the 17th and 18th century, and its docks back then were busy with sailors, fishermen, dockworkers, and ladies of pleasure going about their trades.
Hans Christian Andersen home, Denmark’s beloved fairy-tale writer, greatly enjoyed this neighborhood and lived in three different homes in Nyhavn. He wrote his first fairy tale at #20 (the red building shown below), lived nineteen years at #67, and died in #18.
Nyhavn is nicely refurbished and maintained. It’s still busy and its harbor is dotted with historic sailing ships, although restaurants and now dominate the harborside. Today Nyhavn is crowded with tourists, some there to take canal tour cruises but most who have come for good food and drink, and to enjoy the memorable atmosphere of the place.
A Memorial Anchor rests at the end of Nyhavn (where it meets Kongens Nytorv). It’s a monument commemorating 1,700 Danes who lost their lives during World War II while serving in the the Navy, merchant fleet or Allied Forces. The Anchor was installed in 1951. The modern Royal Danish Playhouse is located at the far end of Nyhavn.
I’d really recommend getting to Nyhavn an hour or two before dusk so that you can enjoy the changing light as it plays on the harbor’s townhouses. The light during the “hour of the pearl” (the last hour of daylight) is just fantastic.
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