If you’re a fan of mermaids, you’ve come to the right place. Denmark, the home of The Little Mermaid (and its author, Hans Christian Andersen), is teeming with mer people above and below the water. Follow our guide to discover the most magical mermaids in Denmark.
Is it a fish? Is it a girl? Some say that Marie Carl-Nielsen’s mermaid represents the change from girl to woman – or maybe from girl to fish. Sat outside the The Black Diamond library in Copenhagen, the bronze cast dates to 1921, nine years after the other mermaid was created along the water at Langelinie Pier.
This sculpture by Suste Bonnen is hidden under the water in the Slotsholm Canal and celebrates the Danish fairytale of Agnete, a woman who left her children behind on land to become the wife of a merman. She returned to the land, leaving her merchildren behind, and in the sculpture, the children and her mer-husband are begging for her to stay.
In 2012, this merman by Elmgreen and Dragset was Helsingør’s most hotly-debated work of art. Han is a polished steel sculpture of a young man in the same pose as the famous little mermaid (the name means ‘him’ in Danish). The best thing about it? If you stand there for long enough, you’ll see him wink.
If you’re curious about what life would be like if you were a mermaid, step right this way. Den Blå Planet is Northern Europe’s biggest aquarium, and it’s easy to reach from Copenhagen. It’s full of colourful coral reef fish, sharks and rays and is as good a place as any to start exploring life under the sea.
There are few better places to go mermaid-spotting than in Odense, the home of Hans Christian Andersen. From 2021, the city will have a brand new museum celebrating the writer, but for now, you can enjoy this mermaid by Jens Galshiøt who sits as part of the Hans Christian Andersen themed entrance at the Comwell Odense Hotel. You can also see a mermaid in Munkemose park - one of 16 sculptures in the city celebrating HCA’s work.
Talking of Denmark’s most famous fairytale writer, you could also visit Nyhavn in Copenhagen, where he also once lived and wrote. Havfruen Restaurant, specialising in seafood, sits on the dockside and has a beautiful gold sign out front. The restaurant's name means 'The Mermaid' in Danish. A little further along the quay you’ll find a floating boat bar called The Tipsy Mermaid.
It's not just about looking at sculptures of mermaids. How about learning to be one yourself? DGI Byen in central Copenhagen runs mermaid swimming courses in their unique round pool, and you can sign up for an eight-week course on their website or enquire about one-off sessions.
This museum tells the tale of art in public places and if you love your mermaids, you’re going to love this. The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour has a strong history of being defaced - a sure fire way to hit the national headlines in Denmark is to daub her with graffiti. Find out all about her history, and see a cast of Han from Helsingør, at Køs, 40 minutes from Copenhagen.
Here’s one for your nightmares: around the corner from the Edvard Eriksen sculpture, Bjørn Nørgård’s twisted, genetically modified mermaid stands with a set of other twisted bronzes. It’s a thought-provoking symbol of ruined fairytales intended to be anything but lyrical and beautiful.
Not the biggest mermaid in the world, but if you like street art, don’t miss HuskMitNavn’s mural in Pier D at Copenhagen Airport on your way out of the country. Denmark’s celebrated street artist designed a 26.4 x 1.8m piece called ‘Airport People’, and it includes a little mermaid in the parade.