The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen

The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen

While in Copenhagen, you can't miss the city's most iconic symbol, the Little Mermaid statue. Commissioned in 1909 and unveiled in 1913, the statue has become a prized treasure, charming locals and tourists for decades.

The undisputed iconic image of Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid bronze sculpture. Perched on a rock at the capital's main port, along the banks of the Baltic Sea, she forlornly looks out to sea. Ever since it popped up in 1913, this fascinating figure has inspired all sorts of legends, pranks, and captivating stories. Measuring 4 feet tall (125 centimeters) and weighing 396 lbs (180 kilograms), the sculpture has made a permanent mark on the city.

The Little Mermaid

Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the Danish beer brand Carlsberg, designed the Little Mermaid sculpture. Jacobsen, with a desire to gift the city of Copenhagen a unique sculpture, selected the Danish sculptor Edvard Eriksen to bring his vision to life.

Jacobsen aimed to pay homage to the famed Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, who is known for penning many nostalgic stories we know and love today. One of the author's most notable works was, of course, none other than The Little Mermaid. The young girl's story of love and longing is perfectly preserved in her melancholic expression as she gazes out to sea.

Eriksen first thought of using Ellen Price, a well-known ballet dancer who starred as the Little Mermaid in the famous ballet, as the inspiration for his sculpture. However, when there was some controversy around her possibly posing nude for the artwork, he changed his plan and decided to draw inspiration from his own wife. In the end, he incorporated only the head and face elements from the ballet dancer into the sculpture.

Since 1913, the Little Mermaid (Den lille havfrue in Danish) has received over thousands of visitors, making it the most visited monument in Copenhagen.

In 2010, the Little Mermaid traveled all the way to Asia to represent Denmark at the Shanghai Expo. During her 6-month field trip, a screen was placed on her rock in Copenhagen, projecting live footage of the Little Mermaid in Shanghai.

Fun Facts

The Little Mermaid of Copenhagen lost her head, literally, on two different occasions. Once painted in various colors, and later thrown into the sea after a small foreign object ripped her from her rock. The statue's head, in the current day, is actually a replica of the original, after it was stolen for the first time and never found.

The Little Mermaid's fame is so widespread that, since 2012, she has a male counterpart in the Danish city of Elsinore. Meet Han, crafted from various reflective metals, giving him a mirror-like effect. What's more, thanks to a sophisticated mechanism, this statue even blinks every hour!