Inspiration for Europe
Travel and dream: discover the continent’s meeting points and explore the traces of its history through fresh eyes.
Copenhagen is a city we almost automatically associate with the concepts of design and the avant-garde. In recent years the capital of Denmark has come to be considered a practical, comfortable and functional city in which design is present everywhere, not only from the decorative but also from the urbanistic and gastronomic points of view.
You only have to dig a little to discover that the Danish capital is host to the headquarters of countless well-known brands. Its streets and schools have witnessed the blossoming of many great creators, including Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton and Erik Magnussen, among others. Such prestigious firms as Bang & Olufsen, Lego and Bodum are Danish. Copenhagen is also an innovative city, home to one of the most modern underground Metro systems in the world, with driverless trains.
However, the city wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for the port which, over time, became one of its most relevant commercial districts. This led, in 1254, to Copenhagen being transformed from a small fishing village to a city. A city which, years later, would become the capital of Denmark, taking the title from Roskilde.
If you choose to stay in a hotel when you go to Copenhagen you’ll find they are usually large buildings, with notably 100% Nordic decoration. Most are clean, discreet, simple and elegant; designed to delight their guests without losing sight of essential practical aspects.
When someone asks what they can eat in Copenhagen, the answer is clear: smørrebrød and herring. Two must-try dishes!
When someone asks what they can eat in Copenhagen, the answer is almost always the same. If there’s one typical Danish delicacy par excellence it is smørrebrød, a kind of cold sandwich (the literal translation is ‘butter’ with ‘bread’), preferably with rye bread, which goes well with a large number of ingredients (smoked salmon, prawns, gherkin, egg, for example). And as an appetizer, how about some silds (herrings) with cream, marinated in oil and vinegar? These two Danish dishes can be found in almost all of the country’s restaurants. You can’t visit Copenhagen without tasting at least one!
These days Copenhagen can boast to have revolutionised its gastronomic concepts, and there’s now no better place to have a drink than on the colourful quayside of the Nyhavn canal. Lined with terraces, this is the city’s most emblematic spot.
Gourmet markets have opened up all over Copenhagen, where you can sample beautifully presented local produce and ecological recipes. A good atmosphere is guaranteed. These places are highly recommended, above all for people who like beer, the locals’ preferred tipple. Carlsberg and Tuborg are the quintessential Danish brands, though increasingly more craft beers are to be found in these markets.
There was once a restaurant in Copenhagen considered for many years the best in the world: the Noma. It was highly commended and admired internationally, not only for the dishes created by the genius of its owner, the chef Rene Redzepi, nor for its industrial-style decoration or its casual yet impeccable service, but rather for its philosophy, with which it led the so-called “Nordic gastronomic revolution”.
The city was home to one of the best restaurants in the world: Noma, leader of the Nordic gastronomic revolution, which will open its doors again in 2018.
Unfortunately, the Noma closed its doors a few months ago, though the idea is to re-open in 2018 in Copenhagen’s most alternative and radical district of Christiania, the self-proclaimed “free town”.
Luckily, the good work of chef Redzepi set an example which has been meticulously followed. There are currently more than ten restaurants in Copenhagen with Michelin stars, and many more without recognition but where you can also enjoy the best Danish gastronomy. All offer exquisite menus, with reinvented designer smørrebrøds that are healthy, nutritious and contain such highly original ingredients as Dublin Bay prawns, seaweed and a range of meats. Mixtures. Combinations. The same as always, but with new nuances, new presentation, an image that coincides with the city’s personality. Flavours that arouse interest, but are perhaps not to everyone’s taste.
However, if you’re looking for the icon of Copenhagen, go and see the Little Mermaid, emblem of the city and of the entire country. A character created by the imagination of another renowned Dane, Hans Christian Andersen, her tiny proportions are surprising, but when you look at her closely you can see her strength and her sorrow. The same occurs when you look at some of the city’s buildings. Behind the simple façades appear curious surprises: sculptures of dragons, flowing curved shapes, and so on. Copenhagen is like that: small, manageable, human and, when you go deeper into the mundane details, delicious.
THE KEYS TO THIS CITY:
Secret Copenhagen is a book by Jonglez that speaks of the city’s hidden treasures. An essential work for locals and visitors who wish to explore the less well-known side of Copenhagen.
Lars von Trier, the father of such popular films as Dogville and Dancer in the Dark, was born in Copenhagen in 1956. Today, he’s considered one of the most innovative and multidisciplinary film directors on the current scene.
The Tívoli amusement park opened its doors in 1843 and is thus the oldest park in the world. It’s one of the favourite destinations of Danes and visitors from around the world, receiving almost four million foreign visitors a year!
More than a song, Copenhagen can boast of being the home town of Carl Nielsen, one of the most famous Danish composers in the country.
Copenhagen’s most popular pastry is the wienerbrød, made of puff pastry with almonds, cinnamon and cardamom. A delight!
Walpurgis Night held every 30 April, is the eve of Christian feast day of the English saint, St. Walpurga. This saint is believed to have protected people from spells and witchcraft. In the past, the arrival of summer was celebrated on the night of the 30th, dancing around a bonfire.