The Streets of Tallin

The capital of Estonia, Tallin is becoming  a popular cruise ship port on the Baltic Sea. Tallin’s old town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. The earliest traces of human occupation go back to 5000 BC. Unlike neighboring towns, Tallin has never been razed and pillaged.Tallin1_-25Toompea, the upper town is where you can visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. During the period when Tallin was under the control of the USSR, the cathedral was much hated by the people. They saw it as a symbol of oppression and in 1924 the authorities scehduled the cathedral for demolition. Unfortunately a lack of funds caused the project to be abandoned. Tallin1_-20

Tallin1_-21Between 1549 and 1625, St. Olaf’s Church may have been the tallest building in the world. Up until 1991, the KGB used the church’s spire as a radio tower and surveillance point.Tallin1_-31.jpgColorful buildings and twisting cobblestone streets are made to wander through. Tallin1_-23Local artists set up their masterpieces along the old city walls.Tallin1_-22Russian nesting dolls known as matryoshka are available for sale in many shops. Tallin1_-33Knitting played an important part in Estonia’s history, so much so that it wasn’t uncommon for hundreds of mittens to be knitted as gifts for wedding guests.Tallin1_There is something magical about the brightly decorated doors along Tallin’s city streets. Bright colors, metal and wooden embellishments turn each into it’s own work of art.

LINK

Visit Estonia

Trip Advisor: Tallin

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The Fjords of Norway

Geirangerfjord in Norway often appears on lists of the most spectacular places on the earth. Created over several ice ages, the glaciers dug out the deep fjords and the towering mountains. Geiranger1_-2Geirangerfjord is home to several well-known waterfalls.  ‘De Syv Søstre’ (the seven sisters) dance playfully down the mountain while the ‘Friaren’ (the suitor) is said to be wooing the Seven Sisters across the way. Geiranger1_-3 Fairytales explain that the shape of the mountains is due to trolls. When the creatures are hit by sunlight, it’s said that they turn to stone. Could that be a face staring at us on the mountainside? Geiranger1_-4The tallest of the Seven Sisters tops out at an impressive 820 feet. Be sure to visit later in the Spring when the winter snow and ice are melting to get the best views.

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The “S” shaped fjord is almost 10  miles long and a mile wide. The waters of the fjords are as deep as the Grand Canyon. Boat tours, kayaking and hiking are all great ways to see the beautiful scenery.

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Perched high on the mountainside next to the Seven Sisters is the abandoned Knivsflå farm. It was ordered abandoned by the authorities in 189 due to the threat of landslides. It still stands today despite the threat of avalanches.

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LINKS

Geiranger Fjord

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The oldest church in Norway

Stavanger Cathedral is the oldest church in Norway that is still in use. Construction began on the church in 1123 by a Benedictine Monk named Bishop Reginald from Winchester in England. Stavanger1_

Stavanger1_-2In medieval times the church was quite different than it is today. Around the church interior were different altars dedicated to different saints. Daily masses were held around these altars. The St. Swithun relic, an arm bone from an English bishop could be found in the choir. The cathedral also had several relics during this time, these included a cloth with Jesus’ blood, a piece of Jesus’ cross and other relics connected to different saints.Stavanger1_-12

Stavanger1_-3New lighting for the cathedral was installed in the 1920’s. Emanuel Vigeland designed six chandeliers in the nave and eight lamps on the side walls. The lamps were designed with an angel figurine that holds a hanging lamp.Stavanger1_-4The chandeliers look like thorn bushes and vines. Stavanger1_-5

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Stavanger1_-9Faces in the Medieval portion of the church reflect the Norse heritage of the craftsmen.Stavanger1_-10The ornate pulpit was a gift from the feudal overlord Henrik Below, in 1658, created by Scottish sculptor Andrew (Anders) Smith. As one of the biggest pieces in Norwegian baroque style the pulpit is an example of cartilage baroque.  The base of the pulpit is the biblical character of Samson facing down a lion. Stavanger1_-11

Stavanger1_-8The various carvings display stories of the bible starting with the Garden of Eden towards the bottom and ending with a triumphant Jesus at the top.Since many people at the time couldn’t read, the carvings were used to tell the tales.Stavanger1_-6Five large and elaborately carved memorial plaques are epitaphs for known men in the community. Their hanging in the cathedral brought honor to their families. Many rich and powerful families wanted to mark their position and make their presence known within the church. These families often received preferred seats in the front rows. This practice was popular in the 1600 and 1700’s.Stavanger1_-13

 

LINKS

Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger Cathedral (Official)

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Visiting the Queen of Denmark

Amalienborg Palace is one of several architectural and cultural masterpieces in Copenhagen.  The palace is still the residence of Denmark’s Royal Family. A statue of King Frederik V dating from 1771 stands in the forecourt. The palace is made up of four identical buildings. These are Christian VII’s Palace or Moltke’s Palace, a guest residence, Frederik VIII’s Palace or Brockdorff’s Palace, home of the Crown Prince family, Christian IX’s Palace or Schack’s Palace, home of Queen Margreth and Prince Consort and Christian VIII’s Palace or Levetzau’ Palace, used as guest palace for Prince Joachim and Princess Benedikte.

CPH1_-187One of the highlights of a visit to Amalienborg Palace is the pageantry of the changing of the guard. Every day Den Kongelige Livgarde take to the streets and march from their barracks by Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg. At precisely 12 noon the changing of the guard takes place. Unlike the changing of the guards in England, there are no fences separating the guards from the public.

CPH1_-188CPH1_-189Although you can’t drop in on to visit the Queen, you can visit one of the buildings where 4 kings of the House of Glucksborg who ruled from 1863 through 1972 resided. Among the rooms you can see are the study and drawing room of Christian IX and Queen Louise.  Queen Louise was the great-great-grandmother of today’s Queen Margreth and through marriage allowed Prince Christian IX to ascend the throne.  Queen Louise made sure that all six of her children married well and Queen Louise and King Christian IX became known as Europe’s Parents-In-Law.  Four of their children sat in the thrones of Denmark, Greece, England, and Russia.

The study of Frederik VIII is an approximation of the way it looked. After the King’s death in 1912, his belongings were given away to family and friends. The heavy wooden furniture and faux leather walls make it a very masculine space.

CPH1_-190The private salon of Queen Louise is full of Victorian treasures and personal souvenirs. CPH1_-191Christian IX’s study is decorated with framed photos of family. During Christian IX’s time, photographs were a new sensation and expensive. They were a status symbol and also showed how seriously Christian IX took his fame as Europe’s Father-In-Law.CPH1_-192

LINKS

Amalienborg Palace

Categories: Castles, Copenhagen, Europe, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Frederik’s Church

The Frederik’s Church’s green copper dome can be seen over the city of Copenhagen. Also known as The Marble Church or Marmokirken, began construction in 1749. The victim of budget cuts, the church stood in ruin until 150 years later when it was finished. If you plan to visit be sure to have some Danish Krone in your pocket as they don’t accept credit cards.CPH1_-125The gold lettering over the entrance portico HERRENS ORD BLIVER EVINDELIG translates to “the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” – 1 Peter 1:25CPH1_-126Some say the large dome was meant to rival St.Peter’s in Rome. It remains the largest dome in Scandinavia and one of the largest in Northern Europe.CPH1_-120

CPH1_-119The ornate Swan Organ is no longer in use. The swan is Denmark’s official bird.CPH1_-121CPH1_-122

CPH1_-123The inner dome of the church is resting on 12 columns. The cupola is split into 12 equal parts and decorated with angels and the 12 apostles.CPH1_-124

LINKS

Visiting the Marble Church

 

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An In -“Spire”-ing Skyline

In “The City of Spires”. the oldest building in Central Copenhagen is Saint Peter’s Church. Sankt Petri Kirke is in Copenhagen’s Latin Quarter. Built in mid-15th Century, originally was one of four Catholic Churches, today the congregation is made up of German speaking Lutheran-Evangelicals.CPH1_-42St. Petri’s Kirke is where you can find the remains of one Johan Friedrich Struensee. When he arrived in Copenhagen at age 31 he was King Christian 7’s doctor. He considered himself an atheist and man of the Enlightenment and never set foot in the church while he was alive.
After his affair with Queen Caroline Mathilde was discovered, he was sentenced to death by beheading on April 28th 1772. The body was dismembered and the parts taken to Gallows Hill. In 1885, some human bones were dug up at the site, which then belonged to Vestre Kirkegård (the cemetery). The human remains that were found belonged to several people, some showed evidence of being hacked with an axe. Thought to belong to Struensee, they have resided in a child’s coffin in the crypt under the church.
CPH1_-44From the Observation Deck at the Round Tower (Runtaarn) you can see the many spires of Copenhagen. The former St. Nikolaj Kirke (St. Nicholas Church) in the foreground is now a contemporary art museum.CPH1_-58St Nicholas Church was built close to the shore, and was the church of fishermen, sailors and visiting traders. The church was named after the patron saint of sailors.CPH1_-88 The Old Stock Exchange (Borsen) has the most interesting spire in the city. The tails of four dragons are intertwined to create the spire. The legend is that the dragon tailed spire guards the building against enemy attacks and fires. The Old Stock Exchange been spared from damage on many occasions, even when fires have broken out in neighboring buildings. CPH1_-87The Danish Chamber of Commerce now resides in the building.The three crowns that top the spire represent the Scandinavian empire – Denmark, Sweden and Finland.CPH1_-90Sitting in the Christianhaven section of the city, the Church of Our Savior has a spire with an external staircase for climbing to the top. The Church is visited by more people than any other in Copenhagen.CPH1_-212The 400 steps to the top wrap around the spire 4 times. Like many fortresses the steps wind to the right. The soldiers can defend the city by holding onto the railing with there left (less dominant) hand while brandishing their swords with their right.CPH1_-213A statue of Our Savior stands on top of a globe at the top watching over the city.CPH1_-218A quick train ride to the north is where you will find the spires of Kronborg Castle, also known as Hamlet’s Castle.CPH1_-141

LINKS

St. Peter’s Church

St. Nicholas Art Museum

The Borsen (Stock Exchange)

Kronborg Castle

Church of Our Savior

 

Categories: Castles, Church, Church of Our Saviour, Copenhagen, Dragons, Europe, Hamlet, Kronborg Castle, Photography, St Peter's Church, St. Nicholas Church, St. Nikolaj Kunsthall, St. Petri Kirke, Travel, Vor frelsers Kirke | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Anarchy reigns…

Freetown Christiania is on the outskirts of Copenhagen. In the 1971, some homeless people were squatting in old military base. When they broke down a fence to use an abandoned playground for their kids, Christiania was born.CPH1_-204Colorful murals line the outer walls and every street corner in this quirky artistic community. There is theatre, live music and many other types of artistic expression within these walls. CPH1_-205The people of Christiania forbid, guns, violence, hard drugs and cars. Fireworks, biker’s colors and bullet proof vests are also discouraged. CPH1_-206In researching my visit to Christiania, there were quite a few websites cautioning against taking photographs in the neighborhood. Before 2017, an area known as Pusher Street was the site of many Marijuana dealers. Although marijuana is illegal in Copenhagen, the  dealers were afraid that photographers would turn them in to the police for illegal activities. An incident in 2016 in which a police officer was injured by a gun shot caused the community to shut down Pusher Street. CPH1_-207Christiania is a mix of homemade houses, workshops, art galleries, music venues and  organic restaurants. The town exists as a society within a society, you cannot buy a house in Christiania. You have to apply for it and if you are successful it is given to you. CPH1_-208

This colorful town is a great place to get lost for an afternoon.

CPH1_-209CPH1_-210Remember, there be dragons here!

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LINKS

13 Things to know about Christiania

 

Categories: Copenhagen, Europe, Free Christiania, Grafitti, Photography, street art, Travel | 1 Comment

Watch out for that hole…

Why are Manhole Covers round? There are several answers to this age old question.

  • A round manhole cover cannot fall through its opening.
  • Round tubes are stronger so the cover of a round tube is a circular shape.
  • A round manhole cover has a smaller surface than a square one and requires less material to make one.
  • When replacing the cover over the open hole, a round cover does not need to be rotated to align and fit.
  • A round manhole cover is easier to move by being rolled.

Whatever the reason, while walking around Copenhagen, take a moment to look down under your feet. There is some pretty cool art to be discovered.

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CPH1_-83Seen in Helsingor, home of Hamlet’s Kronborg Castle

CPH1_-113This one tells the story of the Steadfast Tin Soldier. The empty spot had a depiction of the one legged soldier. In the story he is about to be eaten by a fish after falling off of his shelf. Hans Christian Andersen

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Inside Tivoli Gardens, the manhole covers show the entry gates and the popular balloon ride.

Categories: Copenhagen, Europe, Photography, Tivoli Gardens, Travel | Leave a comment

Eating Out in Denmark

The Danish people are among the happiest in the world. They celebrate something they call Hygge pronounced hue-guh. Although there is no exact translation for Hygge most of the dictionaries reference it as cozy. Hygge is a style of life, it is a certain slowness of living and appreciating the moment.

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Eating in Copenhagen can be an adventure in and of itself. There is everything from traditional Danish fair to old standbys like McDonalds. One unusual place to try out is Copenhagen Street Food. Situated on Papiroen or Paper Island it opened in April 2014 in a warehouse previously used for storage for the Danish newspaper.

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There is ample seating outside along the canal or inside the trendy industrial building. Old shipping containers, reclaimed and walls insulated with mussels make this a quirky and fun place to visit.

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Micro breweries share space with Falafel and Ostrich Burgers.

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20170614_135729The Surf and Turf Burger was one of the best that I have had. A juicy beef patty was covered in sauteed prawns (or shrimp to you and me).CPH1_-196CPH1_-201

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For Dessert what could be better than a homemade donut? How about a Creme Brulee donut? The Donut is rolled in sugar and then flamed with a small torch until it is crispy and warm. Then they topped it with vanilla ice cream and homemade hot fudge. I need to go back.

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If you’re not the adventurous type. There was the Boston Grill in the Scandic Hotel. I think the entire restaurant was full of Americans and most of them from New England. The Clam Chowder was good, not as good as my brother’s but still delicious.

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For another dining adventure check out the Meat Packing District. Similar in concept to NYC’s reclaimed Meat Packing District, there are a wide variety of food options.

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Warpigs is Copenhagen’s answer to Southern Barbeque. If you have experienced Four Rivers Smokehouse in Central Florida then you have an idea of what to expect. The pulled pork was excellent but they missed the mark on the baked beans and potato salad. There are picnic tables outdoors and inside or you can eat in their private Dining Room with the pig skull chandelier.

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Street food is also abundantly available. Stop by a gelato stand for a little dessert on the way back to the hotel.

 

LINKS

Copenhagen Street Food

Boston Grill

Warpigs

Categories: Copenhagen, Europe, Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

Rundetaarn: The Round Tower

The Round Tower dates back to the 17th century and is the oldest observatory in Europe. Although the scientists have left long ago, the tower serves as a lookout for amateur astronomers and visitors.

CPH1_-47CPH1_-49The Gateway to the tower features the monograms of several Danish monarchs. CPH1_-50Danish Astronomer Tycho Brahe inspired the building of the Round Tower some decades after his death in 1601.  An interesting fact about this man is that Brahe lost part of his nose in a duel with a fellow nobleman. He received a prosthetic nose said to be of gold or silver held onto his face with paste. In 2010, his body was exhumed and the nose was found to be made of brass.CPH1_-51Although it was never used as the church’s tower, the chapel of the Trinity Church is part of the Round Tower complex.

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Rather than climb flights of stairs to the observation deck, a 7.5-turn spiral ramp is the the only access way to the observatory as well as the Library Hall and the Bell-Ringer’s Loft, both located above the church. You walk 7.5 times around the core of the tower before reaching the observation deck and observatory at the top. This allowed a horse and carriage to reach the library making it easy to move books in and out as well as transporting heavy and sensitive instruments to the observatory. Tzar Peter the Great rode to the observation deck on horseback with his wife Catherine in tow in her carriage behind. In later days both bicycles and motor vehicles have made the ascent.CPH1_-55CPH1_-53CPH1_-56

Thick wooden beams characterize the Bell Ringer’s Loft.

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The letters RFP in the ornate ironwork railings are from King Christian IV’s motto: “Regna Firmat Pietas” or “Piety Strengthens the Realm.”

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From the observation deck you get a 360 degree view of the city. On a clear day you can see for miles in all directions. The city is sprinkled with the spires of many churches.

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LINKS

Rundetaarn

Categories: Copenhagen, Europe, Photography, Travel | Leave a comment

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