I have lived here a long time and I have lost count of the times I have said that we must visit the Cisterns in Sondermarken. So this summer we finally did it.
The Cisterns (Cisternerne in Danish) are a former subterranean reservoir which once contained the sole supply of drinking water for Copenhagen and could hold as much as 16m litres of clean water. As the city expanded and other solutions were found for water supply it is no longer used in this way. For many years it has been a venue for art exhibitions and events.
It is an interesting space to visit and at the same time fascinatingly creepy. It takes a little time to adjust to the darkness when you first enter but there are sections of natural light in places, which are often utilised by the artists. You should remember to bring a warm layer as it is chilly in the caves.
When we visited the current exhibition was The Cisterns X Sambuichi, a Japanese artist (you can read more about the exhibition here) and this runs until February. In conjunction with the exhibition there are also associated events.
We walked around three times when we visited as the first time you need to get yourself adjusted to the darkness and also the pathways. We noticed different parts of the exhibition each time we went around. We will definitely be returning to see the next exhibition.
For more information visit their website here
Photo credit for photos 1 and 3: Jens Markus Lindhe
You don’t have to live in Denmark for long to notice how much the Danes love their flag, the Dannebrog. It is used for almost all celebrations and you can get hold of a variety of little flags for parties, napkins, bunting, etc, and wooden flags on stands for the table at a special dinner or meal. In restaurants if you tell the waiting staff you are celebrating a birthday they will often bring a little flag for the table. I think we are fairly lucky here in Denmark that the flag hasn’t been appropriated in a negative way.Since we moved to a house with a flag pole out the front, like most of our neighbours, we decided to look into the rules about flag flying especially after I read this article .
I also recall a funny chapter in Helen Russell’s book, The Year of Living Danishly, about how she fell foul of the local flag ‘police’. So what are the rules about flying the Dannebrog?
There is an organisation called Danmarks Samfundet who are in charge of the flag rules here so here goes!
- The flag must be of the correct proportion and this is related to the height of your flag pole.
- You must face the flag when it is being raised and it must never touch the ground.
- It must be lowered before sunset unless you have a light to illuminate it. If you fly the flag after sunset it is known as flying the flag for the devil (at flage for Fanden). If you have a flagstaff and you want to fly the Danish flag but you can’t be doing with raising and lowering it everyday you can use a Danish streamer (see picture below) and this must be half the height of your flag pole in length.
- No other flag must be flown from the same flagstaff at the same time.
- Other Scandinavian flags, the UN flag and the EU flag are also permitted to be flown in Denmark, but require special permission from the local police.
- If Dannebrog is to be flown alongside nearby flags, it must be raised first, and from the left side. Following that, the other flags are raised in alphabetical order (so the Norwegian flag would be raised before the Swedish one, for instance).
- When the flag is worn out and needs to be disposed of, it must be burned.
- The flag must be raised and lowered slowly.
Want to know more? Danmarks Samfundet have produced some helpful guides in English here and here.
NB This post contains an affiliate link.
At the weekend my son and I went along, at the invitation of one of his class friends, to see a play at the Anemone Theatre called Frøken Ignora eksploderer. My Danish is up at this kind of entertainment but my son has quite limited Danish language skills at present. I was curious as to how much he would enjoy it. He was rapt all the way through, refusing my whispered offers to explain what was going on. It is only fifty minutes long so perfect for children. It runs until the beginning of November so it may be something to consider for the autumn holidays as there are still tickets available. Don’t be put off if your child doesn’t understand much Danish as the play is very visual and fun (that said it is a bit bizarre so understanding the Danish still didn’t help me really get the whole thing).
The Anemone Theatre has been around for a long time, funnily enough I mentioned it to someone today who recalled going when they were a child when visiting relatives in Copenhagen decades ago. Like my son she didn’t understand much Danish at the time yet still enjoyed the performance she saw. They have an interesting programme of productions aimed at different ages of children so well worth keeping your eye out for other future performances.
Address: Suhmsgade 4, 1125 København K
Website and ticket sales
Over the summer I took an hour or so to myself and went to see the Mario Testino exhibition at Kunstforeningen GL STRAND in the centre of Copenhagen. I have always been an admirer of Testino’s work. How could forget the amazing images he captured of Princess Diana shortly before her death? There were many images in the exhibition I was familiar with, especially those of Kate Moss with whom he has had a long history of photographing over the years but also many new ones. I particularly love the royal shots of both the British and Danish royal families – giving them a real human face.
The selection of images in the exhibition vary from location to location and I loved the selection here. Testino had a real talent in making his subjects look beautiful in an unconventional way. The image of Sienna Miller below is a far cry from her usual boho chic look and is completely captivating.
As is this one of Reece Witherspoon (who must have been standing on a box under that fabulous dress!). The little girl inside me yearns for a dress like this.
I have so many favourites from this exhibition and I would love to go again before it finishes on 18 September.
After being cooped up inside for so long it is wonderful to see blue skies and have the mercury hit double figures. I looked out the window yesterday morning and decided to catch the bus to Christiansborg and go up the tower for some new views of the city. I joined a small queue, went through the security scanners (which were not set off by my bionic arm) only to find out the lift was awaiting repair. As I live here and can go up anytime I decided not to brave the steep and arduous staircase. I had an hour to spare so I decided to visit Thorvaldsens Museum close by instead.
This is the oldest museum in Denmark and houses only the works of Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsens. I was my first visit. I doubt I could spend the two hours the ticket office chap recommended but it was a nice forty five minute stroll around.
The statues are interesting and the place seems to attract a number of artists and there are chairs and tables dotted around to make sketching more comfortable.I found the amazing Spring light on the white sculptures and colourful walls and ceilings very relaxing. I am not sure I would visit often but it is worth the 40kr entrance at least once. Address: Bertel Thorvaldsens Plads 2, 1213 Copenhagen K
Have you noticed the way the Danes used their national flag? Probably the most noticeable is the used of the flag on the front of the buses to mark some celebration or other from a royal birthday to a public holiday. Some months it feels as if the buses are having a permanent celebration.
The flag also takes a big part in any celebration but most of all birthdays. The front door of the celebrating apartment or building will have a couple of paper flags stuck to it. Inside there is flag bunting and little flags on the cake and food. On my son’s birthday meal in Sticks and Sushi, the waitresses improvised and made little flags for his dessert. If you say it is a birthday celebration in a restaurant they will often bring a wooden flag to put on your table. Celebrations in the park will have the picnic perimeter marked out by more flags pushed into the grass.
The one use of the flag that really makes me emotional is the universal practice of waiting for arriving friends and family at the airport waving the flag (bought at WHSmith on the way in or from home for the occasion). Sometimes you can hardly see people coming through for the flapping of flags.
All these flags from bunting, tablecloths to napkins and bigger flags can be bought very cheaply in supermarkets, Tiger and Søstrene Grene or you can go for a mini luxury flag pole from Georg Jensen to grace you table.
The flag flies outside many buildings, tourist sites and at summer houses and Kolonihaver.
In many countries flying your national flag can be seen as xenophobic and jingoistic but in Denmark, for now, it is a sign of celebration and community.
I love living in a city that still retains so many historical buildings in its very centre. Although a number of older buildings here have been rebuilt a few times through history thanks to fires (which seemed to be a very present danger in the Copenhagen of old), Rosenborg Castle has been in its current form since 1624. This beautiful Renaissance castle is located just minutes from Nørreport station in the city centre, although it was once a summer house.
You can see its lovely spires over the city from many spots and last week when I was waiting for the shops to open, I took a stroll around its ramparts. It wasn’t sunny day but the dark clouds seemed to compliment its beauty.
I have been inside the castle once to visit the crown jewels and to see the Long Hall and the golden lions. It is well worth a visit to get a feel of Copenhagen’s royal history.
The park alongside the castles is known as Kongens Have (The King’s Park) and is a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic in the summer with the castle behind you. The building next to the castle is a Danish Army barracks and closed to the public but on the morning I was there I caught a glimpse of some smartly uniformed Royal Life Guards on parade, who I captured with my telephoto lens.
At 11.31 on the dot each day they begin the pomp and ceremony of the changing of the guards here which follows a route through the city centre to Amalienborg Palace (the Queen’s residence). If the Queen is in residence they are accompanied by the Royal Guards music band. The route goes: Rosenborggade, Købmagergade, Østergade, Kongens Nytorv, Bredgade, Sct. Annæ Plads, Amaliegade, and Amalienborg. I often catch them on the corner of Strøget by Illum.
I love living in a city which celebrates its history every day.
We visited Louisiana to see the Arctic exhibition before it closes in February. As we arrived early we had a walk down to the pebbly beach at the end of the road. It always amazes me how breathtaking the coastline is here, even if the weather is a bit dark and gloomy. I would definitely makes sure we have time to explore here more when the weather is a little warmer.
My second recommendation is to try the buffet lunch in the restaurant. It was delicious with interesting seasonal combinations and amazing value. You can read more about my thoughts on Louisiana here.
I find that there are sometimes very strange contradictions in living here in Denmark. On the whole there seems to be a huge awareness of healthy eating which seems to be adopted by many people and made easier by the green keyhole symbol on foods.
But here are two big contradictions in the case of foods here.
Copenhageners seem to be crazy for salad bars. Within a ten minute walk of my apartment I think there are at least five of these shops, selling delicious salads to take home and they are always very busy. A reflection you would think of the healthy eating ethos here. They are also very affordable, tasty and on the whole vegetarian. One point for healthy eating…
But equally popular and prolific are the Slik or sweet shops. Huge emporiums of pick and mix wonder. Normally very cheap and offering a wonderful mix of chocolate, liquorice, fizzy, jelly sweets to name a few. One point for unhealthy eating…
So it seems that the two cancel each other out? I certainly enjoy both places equally and it seems so do my fellow Danes and in moderation the sweets are OK and coupled with a big bowl of salad even better.