A brief history of Copenhagen

History of Copenhagen
Get to know Denmark's historical capital city with this brief history of Copenhagen. From the first settlement over 1,000 years ago to Copenhagen as we know it, see the biggest events and key people that have shaped the history of Copenhagen.

1000s – The first settlement.

1160-67 – Copenhagen founded by Bishop Absalon, counsellor to King Valdemar I. Slotsholmen fortress is built to protect the new city.

1443 - Copenhagen replaces Roskilde as the capital city of Denmark.

1449 - Copenhagen celebrates its first coronation as the nation’s capital, for King Christian I.

1479 -Copenhagen University founded.

1583 - The world's oldest amusement park, Bakken, opens for business. Located just north of the city, you can still enjoy it today.

1588-1648 – Copenhagen’s most remarkable buildings are built during the reign of King Christian IV, including Rosenborg Castle, the Round Tower, the Old Stock Exchange, Copenhagen’s canals and Kastellet (The Old Citadel).

1658 – The Swedes besiege Copenhagen.

1700s – Most of the old medieval city is destroyed by fires during different decades.

1748 – Amalienborg Palace, residence of Denmark’s current Queen, and the Royal Danish Theatre (still at Kongens Nytorv today) are built.

1775 – Royal Copenhagen Porcelain founded.

1801-1807 - The British attack Copenhagen.

1830-1840 - Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro become a part of Copenhagen.

1843 - Tivoli Gardens amusement park founded at the city’s West Gate (Vesterport).

1847 - Carlsberg Brewery founded. The original site will soon be a Carlsberg Experience Centre.

1847 – Copenhagen Central Station (Hovedbanegården) built.

1863 - Copenhagen’s first tram, the first of its kind in Europe. Trams disappeared from city life in 1972.

1875 - Hans Christian Andersen, the world famous fairytale writer, dies in Copenhagen. You can visit his grave in Assisten's Churchyard (Assitens Kirkegaard).

1905 - Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhuset) is completed.

1905 - The first Pølsevogn (Sausage cart) established in Copenhagen. 

1910 – Copenhagen opens its first bike path separated from road traffic.

1913 - The Little Mermaid statue is unveiled.

1925 – Copenhagen Airport opens for business.

1940-1945 – Copenhagen and Denmark occupied by the Nazis during WWII.

1962 - The world’s longest pedestrian shopping street, Strøget, is inaugurated for happy shoppers.

1971 – The freetown of Christiania is founded by squatters on an old military site in the city’s Christianshavn district

2000 – The impressive Oresund Bridge, joining Denmark and Sweden, opens.

2002 – Copenhagen’s first metro line welcomes passengers.

2004 – The distinctive new Opera opens on the waterfront.

2008 - British lifestyle magazine Monocle ranks Copenhagen as the best city in the world to live in.

Further reading

Read more about Copenhagen.

Read more about Historical Denmark.

Book a hotel in Copenhagen.

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History of Copenhagen: Tivoli Gardens

The iconic Tivoli was founded in 1843, outside the city's West Gate (Vesterport). So when it opened, Tivoli was actually outside the city gates!

 

History of Copenhagen: King Christian IV

King Christian IV was arguably Copenhagen's most influential city planner! Many of Copenhagen's most famous buildings were built during this reign (1588-1648).

 

History of Copenhagen: Strøget

When it was finished in 1962, Strøget, at the heart of Copenhagen, was the world's longest pedestrianised shopping street.