Hans Christian Andersen – you know the name and love many of his timeless characters, such as The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. But what about the man himself?
As the father of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen was a famous man in his time, courted by royalty and recognized for his greatness whilst living. Follow in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen and dwelve deeper into Hans Christian Andersen’s Denmark at these fascinating sites.
The Little Mermaid
What better place to start a fairy-tale tour of Denmark than The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbour. For over 100 years, she’s impressed visitors on her rock and is the most photographed statue in Denmark. You will find one of Copenhagen’s most famous tourist attractions at Langelinje Pier. 23 August 2013 she turned 100 years old.
Unveiled on 23 August 1913, The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen.
The sculpture is made of bronze and granite and was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up everything to be united with a young, handsome prince on land. Every morning and evening she swims to the surface from the bottom of the sea and, perched on her rock in the water, she stares longingly towards the shore hoping to catch a glimpse of her beloved prince.
Fell in love
Carl Jacobsen fell in love with the character after watching a ballet performance based on the fairy tale at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen.
The brewer was so captivated by both the fairy tale and the ballet that he commissioned the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create a sculpture of the mermaid.
Inspired by a ballerina
The sculpture was inspired by ballerina Ellen Price, who in 1909 danced the lead role in the ballet The Little Mermaid at the Royal Theatre. However, Ellen Price would not model in the nude for sculptor Edvard Eriksen. Thus Eriksen’s wife, Eline Eriksen, posed for the sculpture of The Little Mermaid.
The headless mermaid
The little mermaid has several times been the victim of vandalism. Twice she has lost her head, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her.
But every time she is rescued and restored, so she can stay in her place by the water and bid travellers welcome to Copenhagen harbour.
Colourful Nyhavn is a must-see on any visit to Denmark. Hans Christian Andersen spent most of his life living in three different houses here and wrote many famous tales overlooking the harbour in Copenhagen’s centre.
Especially during summer Nyhavn is the perfect place to end a long day. Have dinner at one of the cozy restaurants or do like the locals and buy a beer from a nearby store and rest your feet at the quayside.
Nyhavn was originally a busy commercial port where ships from all over the world would dock. The area was packed with sailors, ladies of pleasure, pubs and alehouses.
Today the beautiful old houses have been renovated and classy restaurants dominate the old port. Nyhavn is filled with people enjoying the relaxed atmosphere by the canal, jazz music and great food.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Nyhavn
No. 9, Nyhavn, is the oldest house in the area dating back to 1681. The design of the house has not been altered since that time.
Many of the houses lining the quays of Nyhavn have been the homes of prominent artists.
Hans Christian Andersen used to live in no. 20. This is where he wrote the fairy-tales ‘the Tinder-Box’, ‘Little Claus and Big Claus’, and ‘the Princess and the Pea’. He also lived twenty years in no. 67 and two years in no. 18.
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy-Tale House
The Fairy-tale House in Copenhagen guides the audience through a series of brilliant tableaux depicting the universally known fairy-tales by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen.
The “live” exhibit boasts state-of-the-art lighting effects and a three-lingual sound system in Danish, English, and German.
In addition to the fairy-tale exhibits, you can visit Hans Christian Andersen’s study and listen to the great poet giving an account of his life and many travels abroad.
The museum also features a hand-written manuscript and a collection of props and appliances that were important to him during his lifetime.
Hans Christian Andersen arrived in Copenhagen in 1819 and several of the places that were the center of his life can still be visited today. Among these The Royal Danish Theatre, which played a huge role in his life as well as some of the cafés and homes he frequented. On HC Andersens Boulevard you can see one of the two statues of the writer in Copenhagen. The other one you will find in The King’s Garden. HC Andersen died in 1875 and is buried in Assistens Kirkegård in Nørrebro. The cemetery is beautiful, and the locals often use it as a park.