Hele verden går gennem Rundetaarn

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When the Yggenyks Stole the Round Tower

If one takes a closer look at Christian IX’s Palace at the royal castle of Amalienborg, it should be possible to see some cracks in the wall. The cracks, which are accompanied by streaks of flour paste, ostensibly derive from the time when a bunch of small three-legged birds sawed through Her Majesty the Queen’s residential palace, stole it, and hid it in the woods until they were paid a ransom of their favourite cookies and returned it nicely back in place. The same kind of crack has also appeared on the Round Tower’s footing. A few decades prior to...

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The People’s Love

Among the list of Danish kings the nickname “the People’s King” is usually reserved for Frederik VII (1808-63) who had the royal motto “The people’s love, my strength” and who, a few months after his accession to the throne in 1848, renounced absolutism and instead became the leader of a constitutional monarchy. If one is to believe a story that was going around in the days surrounding Frederik VII’s reign, there was, however, another “People’s King” called Frederik. The story unfolds in the Round Tower and one of its leading characters is Frederik VII’s namesake, the absolute King Frederik IV...

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The Tsar on Horseback

Horses and snails are not animals that interact much in nature. In the Round Tower, however, they have come across each other occasionally since the earliest days of the tower. The snail has famously lent its name to one of the most characteristic features of the Round Tower, the spiral ramp, which in Danish is called the snail staircase (“sneglegang”) since its winding interior resembles the shell of a snail. Spiral ramps also existed in a number of German Renaissance castles where they made it possible for the princes to be transported between different floors on horseback or by carriage....

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It Happened at the Round Tower

The Round Tower is obviously a tower, but it is also a joyous dance restaurant with a cloakroom attendant, a house band, and a jitterbug contest. At least it is so in Poul Bang’s (1905-67) 1955 cinematic comedy It Happened at the Round Tower (Det var paa Rundetaarn), which has two of its main characters both playing trombone and accordion in the band and acting as the enthusiastic singers performing the captivating signature tune. It Happened at the Round Tower is a comedy and even the cast list, which appears in the beginning of the film at the same time...

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Tycho Brahe Was Not Here

In 1805, the English travel writer John Carr (1772-1832) used both flattering and less flattering words to portray Denmark and the Danes, when he wrote about the journey he had made through the country the previous year as part of a larger trip across Northern Europe. Among the things he was not too excited about, was the newly inaugurated memorial on Holmens Cemetery that commemorates the fallen soldiers of the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. The memorial was, he thought, too small to serve as a national monument. He was more positive when it came to the Round Tower, an...

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The Silver Lining

There is an old Danish saying that advices one never to go back to a dud. Nevertheless, this was exactly what the Danish second lieutenant Andreas Anton Frederik Schumacher (1782-1823), who came from Holstein, did on a September day in 1807. And the fact is that neither the military history, nor the history of science, nor the Round Tower’s history would have been the same if he had listened to the old advice. The dud he went back to was one or two of the so-called fire arrows that were shot over Copenhagen during the British bombardment of the city...

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Behind Protective Walls

Most people are familiar with a fireproof dish. What is more unusual is to talk about a “fireproof house”. It is, nevertheless, what the Round Tower has been called. And rightly so, since its robust walls have offered protection for centuries to Copenhageners who sought shelter from fire and bombs. Many of the latter were dropped during World War II. Thus, when Denmark was occupied in 1940, the question of how to provide protection for the people during the Allied air raids quickly arose. In Copenhagen, dugouts and air raid shelters started being built and arranged in parks, green spaces...

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Fell with a Screw

In the middle of the open sea, there is no fell. That was what two young Greenlanders came to realise when they set out on the long and highly unusual journey from their own shores to those of Denmark in 1724. If we are to believe the drum song that one of them later wrote about the trip, he even climbed up the ship’s mast to look for land and fells. But it made little difference. Surprisingly enough, he found exactly what he was looking for when he arrived in Copenhagen. For, here stood what he in the song refers...

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A Bulletproof Connection

One of the most charming features of the Round Tower is its distinctive spiral ramp, which runs just over 200 metres from the entrance on the street of Købmagergade to the entrance of the observatory at the top of the tower. The spiral ramp is, however, also one of the greatest mysteries of the old tower. For, why on earth build such an odd thing in the middle of Copenhagen? This is a question many have tried to find an answer to, and the answers point in different directions. As is often the case when one is dealing with the...

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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...