History of Copenhagen

History of Copenhagen

Copenhagen's past is defined by the Vikings, its enduring monarchy, and the impact of World War II. Today, Copenhagen is considered the best city in the world to live in.

The Origins of Copenhagen

Dating back to 12,000 BC, the first settlements on the island of Zealand emerged as the period of glaciation ended, making the territory habitable again. Several urban centers were established in the area, setting the stage for the founding of Copenhagen.

Copenhagen's origin can be traced to the directive of Absalon, the bishop of Roskilde, who ordered the construction of a fortress to safeguard the emerging city. Presently, the same location is occupied by Christiansborg Palace.

The Viking Age

Denmark experienced the presence of the Vikings from the 8th century onward. These Scandinavian people undertook significant conquests, including invading important English cities like York. Renowned for their shipbuilding, exploration, and prowess in warfare at sea, the Vikings left an indelible mark on history.

In Copenhagen, you can explore the legacy of the Vikings at the National Museum of Denmark, which houses treasures from this era, or visit the Viking Ship Museum in the nearby town of Roskilde.

In the late 10th century, the Viking Harald Blåtand, also known as Blue Tooth, played a pivotal role in unifying the kingdom of Denmark, becoming the country's first king.

The Oldest Monarchy in the World

Even after 11 centuries, Denmark's monarchy remains a prominent and highly esteemed institution for the Danish people. It's one of the world's oldest monarchies, with the Viking heritage of its predecessors coursing through the veins, including modern-day monarchs.

The Kingdom of Denmark also encompasses Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Lights and Shadows

With the coronation of Christian IV, dubbed the builder king, in 1596, Copenhagen entered a golden age characterized by the construction of iconic landmarks such as Frederiksborg Castle, the Royal Library, Rosenborg Castle, and the Rundetaarn Tower.

However, subsequent centuries brought Swedish invasions, plagues, and fires, with the devastating fire of 1728 being the most destructive in Copenhagen's history, consuming much of its medieval structure over a three-day blaze.

200 years later, the city experienced rapid growth. In the mid-19th century, the legendary Tivoli Gardens opened, and the esteemed Carlsberg beer brand was established.

The shadows of World War II cast a dark period as Denmark fell under Nazi occupation. In 1943, Hitler planned to deport over 8,000 Danish Jews to concentration and extermination camps. The Danish resistance, upon learning of the plan, orchestrated a nationwide effort to help these Jews escape to Sweden, a neutral country relatively close by.

Thanks to the collective efforts of the Danish people, 99% of the country's Jewish population was saved, thwarting Hitler's plan in this Scandinavian nation. Many of the rescued Jews sought refuge in the nearby city of Malmö.

Best City in the World

Copenhagen has garnered numerous global accolades for its exceptional quality of life, design, and commitment to environmentalism. In 2008, it was honored as the city with the best quality of life. Two years later, it earned the title of "Best Design City." Further solidifying its reputation, Copenhagen was elected European Green Capital in 2013, adding another prestigious award to its list of achievements.