Copenhagen City Hall

Copenhagen City Hall exterior
Copenhagen City Hall exterior

Copenhagen City Hall is an imposing building made of red brick. Mostly square-shaped, there are some architectural fripperies on the sides and top, including some small turrets. There’s also a clock tower off to one side.

There’s a decent-sized, but normally barren, paving stone-covered square in front of City Hall. I’m generally not a fan of large, barren squares in cities, but I was reminded of one of the major benefits of this sort of space during my visit to Copenhagen.

For a few days while I was in Copenhagen the square in front of City Hall was filled with tents and displays for some sort of event. There was music playing. The signs were all in Danish and I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but the civic square was well-used.

Despite hating crowds, I’m a huge fan of well-used public spaces. They make for lively cities with a better quality of life. True, if there’s too much of a crowd (“too much” being defined as not allowing me to maintain what I consider to be an adequate amount of personal buffer space around me) I like to enjoy whatever is happening from a distance and experience the crowd-vibe vicariously. I appreciate that other people are having fun on my behalf even if they think they are doing it exclusively for themselves.

Copenhagen City Hall interior
Copenhagen City Hall interior

The advantage of a normally empty square in the middle of a city is that it’s easy to hold events there without having to work around trees, flowers, bushes, benches, sculptures and/or fountains. The event that was on when I was in Copenhagen lasted for only a few days. When it was over, a work crew with heavy equipment came in, dismantled everything. When I walked by the next day the square was again empty and barren.

If I ever go back to Copenhagen I may have to revise my assessment of the square as being barren. When I was there in late-May, 2014, there was construction fencing on the side of the square opposite City Hall and construction equipment behind the fencing.

I looked at Google Maps, called up satellite view and got an image that must have been taken before the construction started. It shows what looks like another part of the square that contained green space with trees and wide paths leading to what, as best I could tell from the satellite view, looked like it might be a fountain. None of that was there—or if it was, it wasn’t visible behind the construction hoarding—while I was in Copenhagen on this, my first, and so far only, trip to that city.

Copenhagen City Hall interior
Copenhagen City Hall interior

Inner Courtyard

During City Hall opening hours you can go inside and take a look for free. The first time I went there on my visit it was a Sunday, the building was open, but primarily because the inner courtyard was being used as a polling station for the European election that was being conducted that day. I came back another day and got a better look inside the place.

For me, the most impressive part of Copenhagen City Hall was the interior courtyard. It’s a large glass-roofed atrium in the center of the City Hall that has the feel of an outdoor square, but without the weather issues. The brickwork and floor of this inner courtyard is attractively decorated as part of the structural design. When I was there, there were also a number of Danish flags hanging on the surrounding walls, but I can’t say if they were a permanent feature.

I’m not a particularly adventurous person. (Your first clue should be the name of this blog, CommonPlace, rather than, say, IntrepidPlace.) Hence, there are probably some other interesting areas of the building that I didn’t see. If you’re more comfortable with wandering into not clearly marked spaces than I am, I’d recommend wandering around. In searching the Web to verify the information I’m going to give below, I came across someone who said that there is another cool interior space there. Too bad I didn’t know that before I went.

There is a small fee to go up to the top of the clock tower and take a look around. I didn’t bother because I figured that I had already gotten enough views of the city from the Round Tower and the corkscrew/Church of Our Saviour.

The iPhone walking tour app I was using told me that Copenhagen City Hall, which was inaugurated in 1905, was inspired by the city hall in Sienna, Italy. OK. I’ll take the app’s word for it. I was in Sienna once, but only for a day and that was probably close to a couple of decades ago. My memory doesn’t allow me to confirm or deny any resemblance between the two buildings.

The same app told me that Copenhagen City Hall was constructed in the National Romantic Style by the “famous” architect Martin Nyrop. I put famous in quotes because I had never heard of him, but that might simply be because I’m an architecture cretin. Being an architecture cretin is also why I can’t tell you whether the app was correct when it said that the building is done in the National Romantic Style. I have no idea what that is, other than it’s apparently the style of the Copenhagen City Hall.

Sparing no effort on behalf of my loyal reader, I looked on Wikipedia, which confirmed the walking tour app’s information about Copenhagen City Hall, so it absolutely, positively, must be true; unless the app lifted its information from Wikipedia, in which case, who the hell knows?


Been there? Done that? Do tell.