A Brief History of Copenhagen
Copenhagen was officially founded in 1167 when a bishop named Absalon, who is regarded as the city’s founder, started building a castle where Christiansborg Castle is today. Absalon built the cathedral in Roskilde and later became the archbishop in Lund (in southern Sweden which used to belong to Denmark) at a time when the church and archbishop had more power and influence than the king. With the increased trading, Copenhagen, by the sea right in between Roskilde and Lund, had a perfect location for developing a new center for commerce. Copenhagen was also in the center of the kingdom at the time since southern Sweden, as we know it today, belonged to Denmark.
If Absalon was the founder of Copenhagen, King Christian IV was the creator. Christian was the ruler of Denmark from 1588 to 1648 and his accomplishments had a tremendous impact on the nation’s capital than any other king in history. His vision was to make Copenhagen a modern city and one of the main centers of commerce in northern Europe, which is why he used Amsterdam as a template. King Christian IV is also responsible for many of the famous buildings and attractions you see in the city today, for example Rosenborg Castle, the Old Stock Exchange and the Round Tower just to name a few.
The 18th century in Copenhagen was characterized by misery and despair, with two major fires and a plague. The 19th century saw an upswing in the economy and overall standard of living with many new industries and the city expanded its border.
Before the 1860s, Copenhagen only consisted of the present city center, which was marked by city walls. Vesterport (the Western Gate), where the City Hall Square is now, and Østerport (the Eastern Gate), where Kongens Nytorv is today, were the main entrances for merchants who came to the city to trade their goods. In the 1860s the walls were torn down but the legacy is evident even today as Strøget, the biggest pedestrian shopping area in Scandinavia, is right in between these two former entrances to the city.
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