Sunday, September 4, 2011

DENMARK: COPENHAGEN, DAY 1

The cruise part of our trip began and ended in Copenhagen, Denmark.  We took a ferry from Rostock, Germany, to a port city in Denmark on Wednesday, June 15th.
The fact that it was mid-week did not stop the Danes from enjoying the beach.  I would have liked to test the waters. I can't imagine that the Baltic Sea provides much warmth, no matter way time of year it is!
 We had to drive about 80 miles through some lush countryside to reach Copenhagen.
 Upon arrival in the city, one thing that immediately struck me was the bicycles. They were everywhere. (These fuzzy pictures were all taken through our bus window.)
I learned that Copenhagen is Europe's model city for cycling. Almost 40% of citizens commute to work BY BIKE. The city is pretty compact and flat, and there has been extensive city planning to accommodate cyclists that includes many separate bike lanes like those in the picture above.  Still, what do they do in the winter, when the high is 35 degrees and there is snow on the ground?  I am guessing that they don't ride bikes!

We had only half a day before we had to board our cruise ship, but it was enough time to see three sites.

1. Church of our Lady
This relatively simple building is the National Cathedral of Denmark (Lutheran) and is located next door to the University of Copenhagen.



Main building of the University

The Church of Our Lady was originally built in 1128-1201 but has been completely rebuilt about five times due to fire, lightning strikes, and war.  The current version was built during 1817-1829, and it is in such a compact space that it was impossible to get a picture of it in its entirety: 

The interior is very simple; in fact, it is one of the simplest we have seen anywhere in Europe:
However, its simplicity highlights the marble statues of Christ and his Twelve Apostles (with Judas Iscariot being replaced by Paul) that were created by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen in the 1820s.

This is the Christus that the LDS Church has become so fond of, and copies of which are located in several visitors' centers, including the one on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

The Christus was set against a beautiful gold background:
 . . . but I was disappointed that we couldn't get closer than about 25 yards.  There is a little courtyard in front of the statue, and within the barrier was another statue created by Thorvaldsen as a gift to the church (he was paid for the Christus and the Apostles):
While I loved seeing the familiar Christus in its original setting, I think I enjoyed seeing the Apostles even more. They lined the side walls of the cathedral and could be examined up close. Each apostle carries or wears something that identifies his role, his character traits, or his life or death in some way.

Starting at the entrance and moving clockwise, with six statues on each side of the main chapel, they are:

Bartholmew and Thomas:

 James the Less and Philip:

 Matthew and Paul:
 Simon the Zealot and Thaddeus:

 Andrew and James the Great:

 John the Beloved and Peter (with keys in his right hand):

For a good discussion of the symbols incorporated into each of the statues, see Bob's post on the cathedral. 


2.  The Plowing Fountain
According to legend, the island on which Copenhagen is located was created when the Swedish king Gylfi promised Gefjun the territory she could plow in a single night.  Gefjun turned her four sons into oxen and plowed all night long. This massive, powerful fountain was created in 1908 by the Carlsberg Foundation (a brewery) to commemorate their 50th anniversary:



Yeah, she's whipping her sons.  Where is Child Protective Services? Huh?




Bob, to no one's surprise, was intrigued by the snakes in the water, a bit creepy when seen from this angle.

3. The Little Mermaid Statue
For me, this statue is the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Copenhagen.  I always pictured it out in the harbor, but it is just a short leap off the shore, strategically placed for photographs. As you might expect, it was pretty mobbed with people waiting their turn to pose with her:
Like the Plowing Fountain, we have the Carlsberg Foundation to thank for her creation.  One of the sons of the founder was intrigued by the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and had the statue commissioned in 1909.

2 comments:

  1. Your photos take me back.

    To answer your question, they do bike in the winter. I find that crazy, but I guess it works for them.

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  2. I love the bare feet in the mermaid photo. And I really enjoyed looking at all the apostles with their attributes. That's something the old churches did really well: bring the apostles to life via sculpture. I guess they did it for a non-reading public, but it's always amazing to me to see them in the churches and cathedrals.

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