Architecture is the art of creating the setting for human life.
Architecture is the art of creating the setting for human life.
The Finale: Amager ArkitekTUR
Two of my Sociology friends, Amanda and Sarah, and I took a metro ride/walking tour out to Ørestad, on the island of Amager in Copenhagen, in search of two things: crazy modern architecture and crazy good ice cream.
Amager is a lot of things. It’s a striking combination of older beach bungalows and sparkling new glass towers. Some of the notable sights we passed were the Mountain Dwellings and the VM Houses, both projects by the renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels of BIG. We thought many of the buildings we passed were very impressive, if a little strange or impractical. Ørestad South is much more remote - it’s the end of the line for the Metro - in part because many of the building projects there were put on hold because of the Great Recession.
But best of all, we found the ice cream shop that we’d unsuccessfully been looking for for a while: Ismageriet. It’s hidden in the middle of the burbs - definitely out of the way if you’re unfamiliar with Copenhagen - but so worth the trip! I tried a scoop of my go-to-favorite mint chip, and it was made with pieces of real mint and fine slivers of dark chocolate. Ismageriet definitely deserves its reputation for the best ice cream in Copenhagen!
To see more of Amager, Ørestad, and Bjarke Ingels’s work, check out this excerpt from the documentary "My Playground" about parkour in the city. And for non-Danish speakers, if you’re wondering about the title “ArkitekTUR”:
"arkitektur" = architecture
"tur" = trip/walk
"arkitekTUR" = architecture trip!—
The Finale: Frederiksborg and Rosenborg
As if my touristing couldn’t get even more pathetic, I saved visiting two of Denmark’s best known castles for the last couple weeks. The worst part is that Rosenborg is right near Nørreport Station, which I passed nearly every day I was studying abroad.
Oh well, what counts is that I saw them!—
The Finale: The Botanical Garden
Copenhagen has a pretty botanical garden (not one of the best ones I’ve ever seen, though, and I’ve been to a lot - but still nice). My favorite part is the huge greenhouse. There are stairs to the top of the rotunda where you can see a nice view of the city…if you can see through the steamed-up windows!
The Finale: Tivoli
For many Danes, the famed Tivoli Gardens is more than just an amusement park - it’s a pastime. Copenhagen’s Tivoli inspired Walt Disney! I’d walked by Tivoli countless times but visited only once before, at Christmas with my Danish class, so it was a must before I left Denmark. It’s pricey, and I don’t like most amusement park rides, but there’s plenty to do and see - plus, it’s beautiful there!—
The Finale: Old City, New Money
One of my favorite spots in CPH is Gråbrødretorv (above), a colorful square in the city center that once burned to the ground. There’s a good sandwich/salad shop there called Skildpadden/Le Petit Tortus/The Tortoise. Below, the charming and simple courtyard at DIS and my last set of Danish kroner.—
I always do something that I’ve never done before.
The Finale: My Sociology class and I witnessed a zombie invasion in Copenhagen during our final program dinner! Endless hoards of the walking dead filled the streets and threw themselves at the windows of our restaurant. They weren’t all bad: A zombie sailor boy joined us in some group photos after dinner and managed not to eat our brains…although he did get some blood on a few of us.
The Finale: Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen. Do you know about the famed astronomer’s life and death? (It involves a mathematical duel, a fake nose, kidnapping, intrigue, a drunken elk, and…murder?!)
The Finale: Helsingør and Kronborg
My friend Amanda had never been up to Helsingør to see Kronborg Slot, the castle made famous by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Despite the fact that I used to live in a folk high school in Helsingør during my first semester in Denmark, the sad truth is that I’d never seen more of Kronborg than the dungeons. (Really, studying abroad in one place for one academic year makes you horribly inefficient with local sight-seeing.) So a day trip was in order!
Helsingør (Elsinore) is about an hour away from Copenhagen by train, but Amanda and I still had enough time to explore the castle, have lunch, walk around town, and even relax a bit once we returned to DIS before our Sociology program dinner. Kronborg is impressive, especially for Shakespeare fans (“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!”) Helsingør really is a nice town with a lot of history. Since it was my first home in Denmark, it was really nice to see it one last time.—
The Finale: Flintholm Station
Flintholm is the hub of the S-Tog (S-Train) F Line, the ring line that includes the Bispebjerg Station outside of my kollegium. It’s also apparently the third most busy train station in Denmark, after Nørreport and Copenhagen Central Station. If I have to use public transportation, I always choose train over bus. I passed through hi-tech Flintholm numerous times, particularly because it was the easiest place to connect to the Metro, which runs directly to Kastrup Airport.—
The Finale: Freetown of Christiania
One of Copenhagen’s biggest tourist attractions, Christiania is a self-governing community in the middle of Christianshavn on the site of former military barracks, not far from Vor Frelsers Kirke. Christiania was founded on ideals of freedom, community, and environmental stewardship. The freetown is also an artists’ colony - residents build their own homes and craft goods for a living such as the famous Christiania bikes. Christiania has always been a point of contention for forty-some years, especially because of its famous “Green Light District” where marijuana is sold. But in 2011, Christiania bought the entire barracks area from the Danish state, thereby legalizing the community.
I think Christiania is full of coexisting contrasts - thriving and dilapidated, beautiful and terrifying, open and distrustful. I’d been to Christiania a few times before, always with female friends, and we’ve always noted that Christiania seems much more male-dominated than the rest of Copenhagen. Just a thought.
Still, it’s definitely worth venturing into this final stronghold of the hippie heyday if you’re ever in Copenhagen. There’s plenty to see, and even a few good, inexpensive restaurants. I should note that tourists are asked not to take photos in much of the freetown - mainly to protect those who sell/buy weed - but since these photos aren’t about that, I don’t see anything wrong here.—
The Finale: Vor Frelsers Kirke/Church of Our Saviour
Climbing Church of Our Saviour had been at the top of my Copenhagen bucket list for quite awhile, but I didn’t manage to do it until the beginning of May because the tower is closed during the long winter months. My friend Jordan and I climbed it after visiting Den Blå Planet - at first, we were tempted to take on the spiral, but the trek to the viewing platform was daunting enough! And the view from there was still spectacular.—
The Finale: Den Blå Planet/The Blue Planet Aquarium
Northern Europe’s largest aquarium just opened this spring, and although it’s pricey and crowded, Den Blå Planet wasn’t a disappointment. Fortunately, DIS bought a bunch of tickets and sold them to students for $5 - can’t beat that price! The aquarium is beautiful and shaped like tentacles, but you can’t really see that from the ground.—