Hans Christian Andersen was one of the most famous authors and poets of Denmark. Although he wrote many plays, poems and novels, he’s best known for his fairy tales, such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, ‘The Princess and the Pea’ or ‘The Ugly Duckling’.
His works considerably shape the country’s culture still to this day and have become an important part of the Scandinavian collective consciousness. Originally from Odense, Denmark, Andersen spent most of his life in Copenhagen. Many places his life revolved around can still be visited today as well as many attractions and monuments that were erected in the writer’s honor.
Nyhavn is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic neighborhoods and a must-see during your visit to the Danish capital. Once a busy commercial port, this district was known as a hub for sailors, corruption and prostitution. Nowadays, it is one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods and the colorful houses and canals are a popular photo scene and known for its great food and cultural scene.
Andersen used to live in Nyhavn 20, the Boel House, from 1834 to 1838. In fact, he wrote his first fairy tales such as ‘The Tinder Box’ and ‘Little Claus and Big Claus’ while living in the house on the second floor. From 1848 to 1865 he eventually lived in Nyhavn 67 from where he had a magnificent view over the city. This is where he wrote ‘Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Snow Queen.’
The Round Tower was constructed in the 17th century during the height of Denmark’s astronomical achievements. Today, it is especially famous for the wide spiral path that leads to the top of the tower from where you have a magnificent view over Copenhagen but it also hosts many exhibitions and events at the Grand Library Hall.
In fact, Hans Christian Andersen used to study here, so you can wander around on the Danish author’s footsteps. The Hall once was home to the entire book collection of the university. Andersen not only visited the library frequently but also found inspiration here for his tales.
Arguably one of the most iconic sights in Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid is based on Andersen’s famous fairy tale of the same name. The world-famous statue was created by Edvard Eriksen and unveiled in 1913. The tale was first published in 1837 as part of a collection of other fairy tales and has been the inspiration for the popular children stories.
The story follows the Little Mermaid who saves the life of a shipwrecked prince. She then exchanges her beautiful voice for legs in order to win the prince’s love. And although the prince very much enjoys the Little Mermaid’s company, he falls in love with a temple woman who he believed saved his life. Instead of seeking revenge, the Mermaid throws herself into the sea, awaiting to turn into sea foam. Due to her selfishness she turns into a luminous and ethereal earthbound spirit.
The statue is positioned right at the coastline and is one of the most photographed statues in the world, so keep in mind that it tends to get a little crowded around here. If you want to see the Little Mermaid from an another angle and learn more about her tragic tale, you can alternatively take a boat tour around Copenhagen.
If you want to pay your respects to Andersen, you can visit his grave at the Assistens Kirkegård, one of Copenhagen’s most historical and best known cemeteries. Andersen died in his home in Rolighed in 1875 and is buried on the cemetery at section P no. 32.
The cemetery is also the resting places of many famous Danish personalities, such as Søren Kierkegaard and Ben Webster. However, it is not only a place of mourning but also a great location to take a walk and experience more than 250 years of Copenhagen’s history.
The King’s Garden is one of Copenhagen’s most beautiful parks and home to a statue of Andersen. The garden was built by Christian IV in the 17th century and is the ideal place for a walk in the writer’s footsteps due to its beautiful rose garden, herbaceous borders and fountains.
The sculpture of Andersen was made by August Saabye in 1880 and shows the writer with a book in his lap as if he’s reading. Also pay close attention to the statue’s base: it shows various brass reliefs with illustration of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales including ‘The Stork’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling.’
Ripley’s Believe it or not! In Copenhagen is home to the Hans Christian Andersen Experience and takes you on a journey through the past and the writer’s many fairy tales, bringing the world of ‘Thumbelina’ and ‘The Little Mermaid’ to life through lights, sound and even scent.
Ripley’s makes you experience the stories in completely new way but you can also walk along the streets of 19th century Denmark and peek over Andersen’s shoulder. Learn how he rose to international fame from humble beginnings and peek over his shoulder in the study – can you see which story he’s working on?