About the City
Progressive, beautiful and eminently livable, Copenhagen constantly gives the world reason anew to marvel at Northern Europe. Denmark’s capital has traditionally enjoyed a low profile, but as it grows in population, courts cutting-edge businesses, and facilitates a link between itself and neighboring Sweden, it increases in prominence and demands attention from business and leisure circles alike.
Originally a fishing village, Copenhagen evolved into a major port of trade after being fortified in 1167. In 1660, then, it became a royal city, when Frederik III declared himself absolute monarch. His father, Christian IV, had been a proponent of culture and made great strides in bolstering the city architecturally. It’s from this era that such landmarks as the Rundetårn (Round Tower) and the Børsen (Stock Exchange) date. In the 18th century, two devastating fires forever altered the landscape of the city, destroying as much as two-thirds of it. Even with such injury, Copenhagen managed to hold onto its character. Now, its charming medieval layout and well-proportioned buildings impart the capital with plenty of Old World appeal.
Today, as in past centuries, a location at the entrance to the Baltic Sea places Copenhagen at a commercial crossroads. The city sits partially on Denmark’s largest island, Zealand, and partially on Amager, another island that rests in the Øresund, a busy waterway separating Denmark from Sweden.
In 2000, the strait between the two countries was permanently bridged, and now, the nations are only minutes away from each other — another boon to international trade and tourism.
While commerce has long been a Copenhagen strength, in recent years, the composition of business has changed. While traditional industries included machinery and ship metalworking, biochemistry and communications now rank among the area’s high-profile fields. In addition, major corporations flock to the city to establish European headquarters, especially companies like Dell and Nokia. On the luxury front, notable Danish products include beer, furniture, porcelain, and silver.
Quality of Life
Aside from industry, Copenhagen caters to quality-of-life pleasures. The city’s compact, easily-navigated center welcomes visitors and residents, plying them with incredible architecture, enticing restaurants, and convivial bars and clubs. Underlying all the physical appeal is a wide-reaching Danish hospitality that puts tourists immediately at ease. Folks are quick to offer assistance and proudly introduce new-comers to classic Scandinavian cuisine, clean-lined Danish design, and singular treasures like Tivoli (the city’s signature amusement park) and the Rundetårn, which offers awesome city views.
And although Copenhagen doesn’t make a dramatic show of flash and spectacle, it boasts something much more attractive — an authenticity of spirit and joy in living that are practically tangible. You only need stroll through the city, lounge in a park, shop along Strøget, or relax in a café to see the pleasure Copenhagen’s people carry with them daily. It’s the same sort of fairy-tale excitement that native son Hans Christian Andersen cultivated in his stories of magic and reconciliation, which are still being read and enjoyed decades later.
So, while Copenhagen isn’t as well-known a destination as more grandiose Continental capitals, it’s a terrific place to experience northern Europe’s allure. Efficient, clean and fun, it links the cosmopolitan flair of Scandinavia’s largest city to the village-like charm of an easy-going northern town with character to spare and nothing but promise ahead.