Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Highlights from the Round Tower

Copenhagen's Round Tower, or Rundetaarn, was built by King Christian IV between 1637 and 1642. In a spectacular piece of gifted forsight, the tower was designed without steps, so as to encourage this lazy American to walk up to the top. Danish efficiency at its finest - it's even easier to write about: "I walked to the top of the tower" versus "I climbed three-hundred-seventy steps to the top of the tower."

Imposing on the outside...
...a gently climbing stroll on the inside.
Once at the top, you are treated to a wonderful view of the city of Copenhagen. The "skyline," if you can call it that as there are no skyscrapers, is quite different from anything you're likely to see in the States in height, shape, and even color, thanks to the many tiled rooftops.

Copenhagen from above...
...or a view from the Wonka-vator.
The Tower is actually part of a complex which includes a church, a library and Europe's oldest functioning observatory. Interesting bit of trivia which is glossed over on the Tower's website: the observatory was actually built as a result of Christian IV's fued with Denmark's most famous astronomer Tycho Brahe over scientific methodologies and alchemy. After Brahe's death, the king had his observatories demolished, leaving Copenhagen's university students and scholars without a place to practice astronomy. Under the guidance of his own astronomer and one of Brahe's former colleagues, Christian IV established what is, today, one of Denmark's top tourist attractions. [Official version: "He got into trouble with the new king, Christian IV, in 1597, and left Denmark. In 1599 he became court astronomer in Prague, but in 1601 he died."]

More interesting trivia: A piece of Tycho Brahe's burial cloth from his final resting place in Prague is displayed among the Round Tower's artifacts. A modern day apology? An "I told you so" from the grave?

Be thankful for modern convenience.
At the top of the Round Tower, I encountered yet another instance of Danish loveliness and a reminder of the loss of niceties conducted without a second thought in America. While I was on my tourist expedition, a group of school children shared the view from the top of the Tower with me. It was a rather chilly, dreary, rainy day to be visiting and I felt a little sorry for the kids. That is until their teacher lined them up and procured a large thermos of hot chocolate which he proceeded to dole out. Then I just felt sorry for myself!