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In the past decade, Denmark's capital city of Copenhagen has gone though significant cultural development, pulsating with innovation and creativity, but any first-time visitor would be remiss to neglect the city's longstanding contributions to the world.
The Little Mermaid
Denmark's biggest tourist attraction is a little mermaid. This 4-foot-tall bronze statue sits atop a stone at Langelinie Pier. Unveiled in 1913, the Little Mermaid statue represents the protagonist of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale. The owner of the Carlsberg Breweries, Carl Jacobsen, commissioned Edward Eriksen to create the statue after viewing Hans Beck's ballet based on the fairytale in 1909. Her face was modeled after ballet star Ellen Price, but the torso was modeled after Eriksen's wife Eline. Over the years, the Little Mermaid has been covered in paint and decapitated multiple times. Despite this vandalism, she has been embraced by her city.
The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
Carl Jacobsen's patronage of the arts extended beyond the Little Mermaid. He used his profits from beer sales to amass Scandinavia's largest private art collection and donated the entire collection to the Danish nation with the construction of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.
Since 1897, the Glyptotek has offered insights into ancient and contemporary culture and the arts to residents of Copenhagen. Today, the Glyptotek showcases more than 10,000 ancient and modern works in four buildings. The collection is renowned for its large collection of antiquities, from the Middle East's early empires to the Roman Empire. It also houses Denmark's largest collection of 19th century French impressionist art.
Kronborg Castle is known worldwide as the "home" of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet." It is located in the town of Helsingør (still known by Shakespeare's English spelling of "Elsinore" to many). As the setting for one of "The Bard's" most critically-esteemed and well-known tragedies, Kronborg continues to attract literary tourists. The castle is also of great national importance to the Danish. It is a military fortress and Renaissance castle, protected with bastions and ravelins. It was of immense military importance because of its strategic location near the water between Denmark and Sweden. In 2000, UNESCO designated the castle a World Heritage site.
Tivoli Gardens is the most visited amusement park and garden in Scandinavia. It was created in the 18th century and is one of the oldest leisure gardens in Europe. With over 28 rides, including Vertigo and the Demon, Tivoli Gardens still attracts a large number of visitors for good reason. When Walt Disney was creating the first Disneyland park in California, he looked to Tivoli for inspiration.
Nyhavn is a recreational waterfront area. Lined by brightly colored buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, Nyhavn has many bars, restaurants and cafes for leisure hours. Old wooden ships float in the canal, making the scene even more picturesque. It is steeped in Danish history as well. Hans Christian Andersen lived and died in Nyhavn. The Memorial Anchor honors sailors in the Danish Navy who gave their lives during World War II. Despite its popularity with tourists, Nyhavn is still frequently by locals and is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.