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

August 25, 2009

Why are they so in love with her?

Hey, this is a little grumble (or a big laugh, depends of you) to wake up this blog from its summer hibernation ;-)

If you've already been in Copenhagen, sure, this title rings a bell in your head. I'm of course talking about the inexplicable love story between the tourists and the major monument of Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid. If you have never been there, you must have heard of it at least. It is a small mermaid statue staring at the sea, located at the harbor entrance, depicting the eponymous tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the national hero (*).

As you can see, she is "full-scale"

This statue was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and was funded by the brewer and philanthropist Carl Jacobsen. She was inaugurated in 1913 and since then she has lived a more than exciting life:

- In 1964, she was beheaded (they had to redo another one)
- In 1984, she became amputated of the right arm, which was found again afterwards
- In 1990, some people try again, unsuccessfully, to decapitate her
- In 1998, this trial was successfull and the head was given back

She has also been repeatedly repainted and dressed up with diverse accessories (burka, vibrator ...)

And actually, she is now THE symbol of Copenhagen, which appears on all the guidebooks covers, on ALL the postcards...) So, she is something you MUST see during your visit. And you will not be the only one:

Horde of worshippers
(Yes, this is the tiny thing pointed by the arrow)

They are all there just for her, certainly not for the ugly indutrial-military landscape in the background. And I spare you the line of sightseeing busses who park on the promenade.

Facing this hilarious and surreal vision, the only question that comes to mind is: why her? why so many people come to see her? (or she just became famous because so many people come to see her...  something like the theory of vicious/virtuous circle). Or is it that every city needs an emblem? (for the key rings and souvenir tee-shirts of course). Anyway, it reminds me my visits to the Louvre and the obligatory stop in front of the Mona Lisa (that you cannot see because soo many people are standing in front of her shouting more or less the same thing: "Oh my god,  it is smaller than I imagined").

Still, she will soon on holiday in China for six months, the municipality of Copenhagen lend it to Shanghai during the Universal Exposition of 2010.

But do not worry, if you come to Copenhagen during that time, you will have some colleagues of her to look up.

In fact, very few people know that there are actually three statues of mermaids in the harbor!

The Pamela Anderson version (she is located on a terrace restaurant):

And the Picasso version:

She is a little bit difficult to find, but she is not very far of the original one, and at least, there is no touristy crowd in front of her queuing for taking pictures.

(*) There are statues of him in every park of Copenhagen, but nobody cares