Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Saturday afternoon in Copenhagen

Entrance to Rosenborg Castle (1606). Dutch Renaissance Style. Originally built as a summerhouse by King Cristian IV.

In 2010 Denmark was voted yet again the happiest country in the world. Really. Who decides these things? To be honest I found Copenhagen, its capital, a bit grim. I think it was the architecture. The Danes are world famous for their architecture. The Sydney Opera house by Jorn Utzon is part of my soul. I love it. But in central Copenhagen I found it all a bit grim. It could've been the weather and the fact that there are roadworks going on everywhere. But I don't think so. There's something very stern, unforgiving and dark about a lot of it. 
However the people made a nice contrast to the buildings. They were courteous and friendly, enjoying themselves in the multitude of cafes and bars and fashionable shops. 
The Royal history looms large here. You really get a sense of the might of the old Danish empire. To me it's quite unlike being in Stockholm. Even though the Royal Castle is a dominating presence in Stockholm it's somehow less intimidating as there is water everywhere in Stockholm.  Stockholm's clean and light. Whereas I found Copenhagen dirty and dark. Maybe that's why they're renovating all the streets? Yes I am biased towards Stockholm.
The cafes were packed. Street buskers were everywhere. Lots of people were drinking beer at 10am. Couldn't think of anything worse myself. I had a hot chocolate which was real chocolate. Nice. Supposedly Copenhagen's a very fashionable city. Not being that into fashion I wouldn't know however I did notice the fashion people were wearing which is really quite different to what people are wearing in Sweden. Can't say I liked it much. Strange combinations of materials and patterns and colours. It was interesting though.
I was desperate for some trees so we walked to the Botanical gardens (which is right next to the National Gallery of Denmark). The gardens were being renovated too. But it was still refreshing to visit. Full of elms and oaks and empty flower beds. I'm sure it's beautiful in summer. I wish Stockholm had a botanical garden in the centre of town. Stockholm's botanical garden is a bit of a trip out to the suburbs. It''s beautiful, in the swedish contemporary style (ie. relaxed formality if there is such a thing) but it's too much of a hassle to go very often. Unless you're going to the University or Imax cinema or Natural History museum which is across the road. 
While we were wandering around Copenhagen I thought of Mary, you know, Princess Mary, the former Australian girl.  I wonder what she really thinks of it when she's alone in the palace. 

Palace Hotel (1910)
Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries with a population of about 5.3 million. Just over half of the Swedish population. Though the capitals have about the same numbers of people living in them (around1 million). The Kingdom of Denmark also has 2 autonomous provinces – the Faroe Islands and Greenland. 
Central Station, Copenhagen. It's built in the same National Romantic style as the Town Hall (and Stockholm's Town Hall too). We were surprised to find out that the Danes still use kronor. We were positive the euro had come in here but no. 
We strolled about in the cold with lots of other people. It was absolutely packed on the Saturday. And many people must've come from Malmö in Sweden which is only half an hour away in the train as there was no one in Malmö.
Out the front of some cute florist shop.
Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) built in Italian Renaissance revival style (1896). Full of brilliant masterpieces going back to the 12th century. Definitely worth going back to Copenhagen for if you're into art.
Fillipino Lippi's ' The Meeting of Joachim and Anne outside the Golden Gate of Jerusalem' (1497).  The colour still dazzling and really moving.
The Gallery also has a fantastic gallery devoted to Danish Art as it would. I found this really fascinating as I didn't know virtually anything about Danish art except Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916) whose paintings I'd seen in a book. He's having a major exhibition here until 20th May 2012. 
The painting above is by Niels Skovgaard (1858-1938)  'Heavy swells at the West coast of Jutland' (1894)
I really like the simplicity of this painting. It could've been boring as it's just two large rectangles in a rectangle (canvas). But it's not as the waves are so true to nature. So it's got freshness and energy.
The Lutheran Church of our Lady. Neo-Classical style re-design 1829 by Christian Frederik Hansen. It's actually Denmark's National Cathedral. The light's beautiful and there's barely a painting to be seen. The former Mary Donaldson and Prince Frederik were married here.
Gardens around the Rosenborg Slott.
A multitude of train tracks at Central Station. Smokers you'd be happy in Copenhagen. You're still allowed to smoke while waiting for the train. Everybody else bring a mask.
I think this the Goddess Athena and some naked man trying to impress her along the path in the Botanical Gardens.
This is my Bill Henson moment. Well that's what I'm calling my photography mistakes. Bill Henson's an Australian photographer who does romantic, blurry nudes of teenagers and landscapes. That have sometimes caused controversy in Australia. 


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