Category: History

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The King’s Heart

There are no limits to the different kinds of utility items that have masked themselves, over time, as the Round Tower. It is possible to find a Christmas tree decoration shaped as the old tower as well as money boxes and candlesticks, and the easily recognisable exterior of the tower has even been borrowed by such diverse things as salt and peppershakers, a children’s book, a stove and an umbrella stand. Common to many of these effects is that King Christian IV’s rebus, which shines with a golden glow out towards Copenhagen on the façade above the entrance, is not...

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Moving the Round Tower

As far as is known, no one has yet made serious plans to make artificial snow and do ski jumping in the spiral ramp, but apart from that, it is hard to come up with a crazy idea about the Round Tower that has not already been thought of. For instance, we had engineer Lorenzen from Baden in Southern Germany driving up and down the spiral ramp with his car on an early Sunday morning in July 1902. There was, too, that time it was suggested to construct a passenger lift in the hollow core in the middle of the...

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The Round Tower Bomb

As it was King Christian IV who founded the Danish postal service, it seems rather natural that the Round Tower, which was also built on his initiative, should appear on a postage stamp. It did take a good while, however, from when the postal service was founded in 1624 until the Round Tower was actually depicted on a stamp. This was mainly due to the fact that for the first few hundred years of its life, the postal service did not use stamps at all. The first Danish postage stamp was introduced in 1851 but it shows no Round Tower...

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A Good Glass of Water

“Nevertheless, we love the city”, the revue singer Lulu Ziegler sang about Copenhagen in 1937. There had been good reasons for being hesitant a century earlier, too, at least when it came to the capital city’s supply of clean drinking water. It was nothing to write home about – unless one wanted to write a dirge. It was bad, so bad in fact, that the Copenhageners, who have always had a flair for pithy word alterations, named the water that came out of their pumps, “The famous lukewarm eel soup”. And this was to be taken quite literally. Rotten Fish...

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Rune Stones in the Round Tower

Apparently the Enlightenment priest Jacob Nicolai Wilse (1735-1801) was also a man of reason when it came to utilisation of space. In 1792 he published the third part of his Travel Observations in Some of the Nordic Countries (Reise-Iagttagelser i nogle af de nordiske Lande), wherein he mentions the Round Tower. It is a place he knows very well since he used to wander up and down the spiral ramp on his way to and from the more than 40,000 volumes in the University Library during his time of study. In 1792 Wilse had been a priest in Norway for...

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A Moving Picture

When The Great Danish Encyclopedia issued its sixth volume in 1996, the extensive national encyclopedia had reached the entry words “Erna” and “fracture” and all that was between the two – which included the entry word “farvefotografi” meaning “colour photograph” in Danish. A detailed graphic representation and a photograph depicting a man surrounded by paint buckets accompanied the short article. The photograph was out on loan from the Round Tower’s collection and the tortuous road to here itself is a good story that leads us back to about 1910-12, when the picture was probably taken. It came about in the...

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Masonry in Royal Colours

What colour is the Round Tower? Well, if one looks at slightly older depictions of Christian IV’s iconic edifice in the middle of the King’s Copenhagen, it was mostly grey. And the images need not be that old. The grey cement plaster, which was applied to large parts of the tower’s surface last time during architect N. S. Nebelong’s restoration in 1870-71, was not removed until 1950. However, a small part of the tower’s exterior, more precisely the so-called lesenes, that is the flat vertical bands between the window areas, already stood with exposed bricks before 1950. And by having...

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The Water Tower in Købmagergade

On a wind-swept day in May 2015 a man, with a light swaying way of walking and an incipient trucker moustache, handed in his ticket to the Round Tower and headed toward the viewing platform. He then forced his way through the security fence, which has supplemented Caspar Fincke’s old wrought iron grille since 1890, took a sip of a canned beer that he had brought along, opened his fly – and urinated out over Copenhagen through the grille’s symmetrical embellishments. The performance artist Uwe Max Jensen (for it was him) was not just ordinarily in need of peeing, but...