While I already posted about my trips to Rosenborg Castle and Frederiksborg Castle, I did visit another royal Danish residence during my time in Denmark: the Amalienborg Palace. Or, perhaps I should say *one* of the Amalienborg palaces, as it is actually a collection of four virtually identical palaces that face each other in a very large octagonal “square” in downtown Copenhagen.
I visited the only one of the four palaces that is open to the public: it focuses on the monarchs who reigned from 1863 to 1972. Unlike Rosenborg and Frederiksborg, which long ago stopped housing the Danish royal family, the palaces at Amalienborg are still being used. As a result, the rooms I saw were much more contemporary…somewhat old-fashioned, perhaps, but not completely removed from the present day.
One of the recent Danish kings had a rather modest office…but still managed to accumulate a massive collection of pipes. You can see some of them in the picture, although there were many more out of sight. I believe there is also a spittoon on the right side of his chair.
While the palace had only limited hours and it was getting dark by 4:00 p.m. each day, the lack of natural light did not deter the Danes from being out and about. The streets in the pedestrianized downtown district were crowded until quite late at night and it never felt unsafe.
In stark contrast to the castles and palaces was Christiania, located just a short walk south of downtown and quite close to “my” street food market. In 1971, a group of 700 people claimed squatter’s rights in an abandoned military barracks and established a “free city” named Christiania. The land continued to be owned by Denmark’s Ministry of Defence…but the squatter’s community remained intact. About five years ago, the community began making payments on the land and became collective owners of the land.
Christiania was allowed to continue for a long time because it was viewed as a “social experiment”. It has continued to be a haven of alternative lifestyles: a popular local slogan is “Kun døde fisk flyder med strømmen” (“Only dead fish swim with the current”). It has also acquired a notoriety similar to parts of Amsterdam, with the result that Christiania is apparently now the third most-visited site in Copenhagen.
When I passed through Christiania, the skies were particularly gray and it certainly didn’t possess a magical feeling. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see what had evolved from the original squatter’s colony.
This ends my “on the road” blog entries from Denmark and Sweden. I managed to see quite a bit despite arriving in Copenhagen on a Sunday and flying back home the following Saturday morning, although it is not a pace that anybody should expect to maintain for more than a few days at a time. Travel burnout can happen!
I’m now back in Kingston and currently doing the final planning for my annual ski trip. I expect to be back with more posts before too long!