This blog is a translation of my original blog, written in French (publication dates are kept).

February 14, 2009

Visit of the Rundetårn

Today, during a walk in Copenhagen with friends, we visited the famous Rundetårn (= round tower).

This tower is actually the spire of the Trinitatis Kirke. King Christian IV ordered its construction in 1642. This tower was the first section of the Trinitatis complex, which had to gather the three most important institutions for scholars and erudites of the seventeenth century: an observatory, a church and a university library. This observatory is even the oldest in Europe still working and the library, located above the roof of the church is now an exhibition hall.

To get to the top, we don't use any stairs, but ... a helical corridor!

This ramp is unique in the history of European architecture. Its length is 209 m, and it turns 7.5 times around the core.

The legend says that in 1716 Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, climbed to the top of the tower on horseback, while his wife was driven in a carriage drawn by six horses!

Of course the main interest of the Rundetårn not its stairs without steps, but the beautiful 360-degree view form the roof (34.8 m above the street):

This tower is one of the most popular buildings in the heart of the Danes. In Denmark, the height of buildings is often compared to the Rundetårn's.

This monument is today, thanks to the events taking place there, a lively element of the cultural environment of Copenhagen.

February 3, 2009

The Danes and their flag

Since I love the anecdotes about cultural differences, today I inaugurate a new category of posts pompously entitled, um ... Cultural differences. Well, sure, Denmark is not really an exotic country, but nonetheless, there are funny things to tell.

Like the frenzied passion the Danes have for their flag.

They put flags everywhere (particularly during special occasions): in their living room, in their garden, on their birthday cake ...

Don't consider that as misplaced patriotism. For them it is simply a symbol of celebration. Thus, in each Danish supermarket, there is a section devoted to the essential accessories of the respectable party-man, mostly composed of flags that you in can plant on the cake, or wave proudly.

I have even seen in the supermarket small poles about 50 cm high, with the flag that you have to hoist on top with a string!

The Danes are proud of it because of its history and the powerful symbol it represents. This is probably the oldest flag in the world. They gave him the name of the Dannebrog (red flag, and by extension, the Danish flag). According to the legend, the flag has its origin in 1219 in Estonia, at the battle of Lyndanisse, where the Danish King Valdemar II saw that cross appearing in the sky and miraculously gave the victory to the Danes. Nothing less as a gift of God !

Christian August Lorentzen, 1809,
Statens Museum for Kunst

This characteristic cross, wrongly called "Scandinavian cross", was afterwards cheerfully copied by all northern neighbors!

(Finlande, Islande, Norvège, Suède, Danemark)

In the next episode we will talk about another Danish passion: the candles!