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Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square) is at the heart of Copenhagen. Here, you'll find the Town Hall and the house of Politiken, where neon signs provide the passers-by with news from all over the world. The Scandic Palace Hotel, outdoor restaurants, newspaper stands and the famous Danish plsevogne (hot dog stands) are all in the vicinity. Rådhuspladsen is an important social meeting point, and a magnificent place to watch the Tivoli fireworks. The square was originally built in the shape of a shell, based on one of the squares in the Italian town of Siena.
The Town Hall (Københavns Rådhus) is a popular building, located at Rådhuspladsen (the Town Hall Square). Designed by Martin Nyrop, the Town Hall was constructed in the years 1892 to 1905, the model for it being the town hall in the Italian town of Siena. The building is also reminiscent of Danish Medieval architecture. The Town Hall is decorated with a large number of sculptures, and a 350-foot tall tower, from the top of which you get an excellent view over Copenhagen. The Town Hall is home to the representatives of Copenhagen, but it is also used when a Head of State from a foreign country pays a visit.
In no time at all this modern building has become the new landmark of Copenhagen, and has contributed to the beauty of the city. It is situated just by Sankt Jørgens Sø. The building was erected during the late 1980s, financed by private means. Most importantly the building contains the huge omnimax cinema where films about nature and the universe are shown with computer-graphic and optical techniques, giving the spectator the feeling that he is actually walking by the river in the Grand Canyon or flying in the galaxies. At the planetarium you can also learn about the development of astronomy from the Middle Ages (when Tycho Brahe lived from 1546 to 1601) throughout modern day. The side of the planetarium that turns towards the lake has become a popular place for the people of Copenhagen to gather during the summer. Inside the planetarium there is an excellent restaurant called Cassiopeia.
The heart of Copenhagen is home to this striking spherical tower that was built by Christian IV to advance astronomical research in the country. Built in the 17th century, the Round Tower was originally an observatory connected to Trinitatis Church, and formed part of the Trinitatis Complex. Highlights of this ancient observatory include the gently sloping equestrian staircase, the helical corridor, and the viewing platform at the top of the tower. King Christian IV's monogram is displayed on the building, as is a beautiful lattice designed by Kasper Fincke. Inside the Rundetaarn, the spiral walk leads to the library hall that once functioned as an age-old repository of university books, and was frequented by Danish literary Hans Christian Andersen. With its clever architecture, well-planned interiors and imposing presence, it is no wonder that the Rundetaarn is one of Copenhagen's most iconic landmarks.
The Stock Exchange is one of Copenhagen's most spectacular and oldest buildings. Christian IV had it built in 1620, in an effort to turn Copenhagen into a financial center that would rival Amsterdam. The Stock Exchange was built on top of water, on filled-in foundations. Because canals surrounded it on three sides, the building has managed to survive the various fires that have ravaged Copenhagen through the years. The long building is magnificently decorated with dormer windows, but the Stock Exchange's most noticeable feature is the spire. Four dragons with intertwined tails form the spire, and it is topped by three golden crowns that symbolize the three Nordic countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Today, the Copenhagen Chamber of Commerce still uses the big hall for meetings, even though the stock exchange has moved to Nikolaj Plads. While the building is not open to public, its architecture is worthy of admiration.
If Rådhuspladsen is Copenhagen's most popular square, then Kongens Nytorv is the city's most distinguished and exclusive one. Limousines glide up in front of Hotel d'Angelterre to drop off their guests. Kongens Nytorv was constructed in 1670 on the side of the former ramparts of the city. Many beautiful buildings are situated around Kongens Nytorv, for instance Charlottenborg, built for Frederik III's half brother in Dutch Baroque style. Charlottenborg is the former location of the Architectural School and now contains the Art School and Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Other buildings are the Thotske Palace (now the French Embassy), and Magasin du Nord, a high-end department store. During the Christmas season, the square is turned into an ice skating rink and the trees and many buildings are decorated with lights that transform the square into something from a fairy tale. The statue in the middle of the square represents Christian V, made by Frenchman Abraham-Cesar Lamoroux in 1687.
The Copenhagen Opera House with its neo-futuristic architecture makes for an enigmatic building along the city's sparkling harborfront. One of the most modernly-clad opera houses in the world, this stately venue packs in fourteen stories of awe-inspiring design in its gigantic space. Designed by native architect Henning Larsen, the opera house comprises of one striking feature after another. From secret subterranean floors and foyers swathed in Sicilian marble, to ceilings gilded with 24 carat gold leaves, the opera house is a fine example of modern-day opulence. The prime highlight of the opera house remains the star-studded main auditorium, which holds an audience of 1400 in its rich surrounds.
Flanked by the Kastellet and the harbor on either sides, the Gefion fountain is a splendid bronze landmark that regales visitors with stories of a mythical past. The dramatic sculpture was designed by Anders Bundgaard between 1897 and 1899, and is one of the largest monuments to grace the streets of Copenhagen. The fountain features the Norse goddess Gefjun at the rein of a yoke of oxen. If the original Norse saga is to be believed, the four oxen were actually the goddess' sons, who helped her plough the island of Zealand from Sweden. The water spurting out of the oxen's nostrils symbolizes the strength that was put into their work. While the fountain glistens in the sunlight during the day, at nightfall it takes on a turquoise hue that further enhances the mystical nature of the monument.
Gazing watchfully over the sparkling Copenhagen harbor, The Little Mermaid is one of the most iconic landmarks of both the city, and the Langelinie Pier where it delicately sits atop a rock. Artist Edvard Eriksen sculpted this legendary statue that came to dominate Copenhagen's global imagery in the years that followed its unveiling. Built in 1913, the bronze statue is inspired by the fictional work of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, and depicts the titular mermaid. The face of the bronze mermaid was modeled after ballet star Ellen Prince, while Eriksen's wife Eline was the muse for the mermaid's body. Although the innocuous mermaid has borne the brunt of several crimes of vandalism over the years, she still adorns the harbor in her beautifully stoic form.