Rådhuspladsen (Copenhagen's Town Hall Square)
Rådhuspladsen, Copenhagen's Town Hall Square, is one of two social hubs in Copenhagen – the other being Nyhavn. It is centrally located and a popular meeting place, not dissimilar to, say, London's Trafalgar Square or New York's Times Square. You will find transportation to and from Rådhuspladsen to be convenient; it is just across from Tivoli Gardens, and is the stopping point for the most important city bus routes. Central Station, from which trains depart for destinations outside of Copenhagen, is just a few minutes walk away.
Rådhuspladsen offers the first-time visitor a fascinating insight into the Danish character. This large, open square is dotted with cafés, fruit vendors and vegetable stalls. You will also find here more than one variation on the ubiquitous hot-dog stands (pølsevogn) that can range in size from a simple kiosk to a small hut. These stands, where tasty, inexpensive sausages are served in a variety of forms, are an almost obligatory part of Danish life.
Public Art in Rådhuspladsen
Copenhagen, as you will quickly realize, is not lacking in statues. Take a few moments before you begin your walking tour to wander around the square, taking in some of the impressive examples found here. Of course, you would expect there to be a bronze version of Denmark’s favorite son, storyteller Hans Christian Andersen; you’ll find it near the eightlane boulevard that bears his name. Look on the same side of the square for the more dramatic copper Bull and Dragon Fountain, dating from 1923; it depicts a fierce, watery battle between the two beasts.
Crossing to the opposite side of the square to Vester Voldgade you will find a column that has been home, since 1914, to the altogether more lighthearted Lur Blowers statue. Local tradition has it that the two ancient men on top will sound a note on their instruments if a virgin passes by. Given, however, that many of the Danish women you will see are somewhat more than simply attractive, it’s hardly surprising that these gentlemen have led a life of silence.
Look across from Rådhuspladsen and down Vesterbrogade for an unusual monument in the middle of the street; this is the Freedom Pillar, erected between 1792 and 1797 to commemorate the end of serfdom for the Danish peasantry in 1788.
Copenhagen's Town Hall (Rådhuset)
The red brick Rådhuset, constructed between 1892 and 1905, is the dominant structure here, with a formidable square tower that rises to a height of 105.6 m (346.5 ft). On the roof are six bronze figures of night watchmen, which date from various periods of the city’s history. Approaching the building by way of a series of wide steps, the site of frequent concerts, note the copper and 22-carat gilt statue above the main doorway that is a likeness of the city’s founder, Bishop Absalon. Once inside, you will find an architectural hodgepodge, as each section of the Town Hall has its own unique style.
Stop first just inside the main entrance where, to the left, tickets may be purchased for the three attractions within the Rådhuset – the Town Hall proper, the City Hall Tower, and Jens Olsen’s intriguingly eccentric World Clock, which is encased in a huge glass cabinet. As to the first, one would suggest a guided tour, offered for DKK 30, which will allow you to see, among other things, the main hall, the imposing banqueting room with its statuary and coats-of-arms, and an impressive view of the 44 m (145 ft) hall from the first floor colonnade. On Monday through Friday these tours begin at 3 pm, and on Saturday at 10 and 11 am.
The more energetic, and those wanting a birds-eye perspective of Copenhagen, can take on the 300 steps of the City Hall Tower. This tour, which costs DKK 20, is offered between June and September, Monday through Friday, at 10 am, midday and 2 pm; and on Saturday at midday (other times of the year, visit Monday through Saturday at midday). The Town Hall Information Office (Rådhusoplysningen) is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm; and Saturday, between 10 am and 1 pm. Admission DKK 10; 33-66-25-82 or www.copenhagencity.dk.
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