Tag - Denmark

Bakken, Europe’s Oldest Amusement Park

Bakken, Cr- Beth Mc

Bakken, Danish Amusement park

Danish Fun Park Has Been Entertaining the Crowds for Over 400 Years

Discover the history of Bakken, the Danish amusement park that is the oldest in Europe and probably the world. Visitors to Denmark have usually heard about Tivoli, the famous amusement park in Copenhagen, but few have heard of Dyrehavsbakken, or Bakken for short. Located in the Jægersborg Deer Park north of Copenhagen, Bakken is the oldest amusement park in Europe. Far from being a mere country cousin of the more famous Tivoli, it has a distinct character, history and charm of its own.

The Early History of Europe’s Oldest Amusement Park

At over 400 years old, Bakken (or “The Hill”) is the oldest amusement park in Europe and probably the world. Its history began in 1583 with the discovery of a freshwater spring on the grounds of the Jægersborg Deer Park. The discovery of the spring was an important event at a time when the water in Copenhagen was barely drinkable and was referred to by the unappetizing name “eel soup”. Pure spring water was revered not just for drinking but was said to have curative properties as well. Unsurprisingly, visitors began to flock to this natural wonder in droves and enterprising locals, seeing the potential of this popular attraction, began setting up shop.

Hawkers and entertainers of all varieties descended on the spring to sell their wares and amuse the crowds and the area became an impromptu fun fair. One such savvy entrepreneur, a potter, started the rumour that the water must be drunk in a new bowl to increase its curative properties and provided the bowls to do so. Imperfect bowls did not go to waste, as he also set up what was probably the first crockery smashing stall in history where visitors were able to use these chipped bowls as target practice, for a small fee of course.

The fun was not to last, however. The spring happened to be located on royal land and in the 1670s, King Christian V decided to extend his hunting grounds to include the area of the spring. In 1756, however, during the reign of Frederick V, the spring was once again opened to the public. Midsummer festivals were popular at this time and as before, the area around the spring became the focus of celebration and amusement. Tents were hastily erected on the nearby hill and traveling entertainers arrived, including dancers, jugglers and animal tamers. By the late 1700s, Bakken became known throughout Europe, attracting even more entertainers and artists from across the Continent.

In 1800, Pierrot, the sad clown and mime, whose character is said to have originated 4000 years ago in Turkey, made his first appearance at Bakken and has since become its best loved mascot.

Bakken Comes Into Its Own

By the mid 1800s, Bakken was well established and the tents were replaced by permanent wooden structures housing eateries, dance halls and gaming halls, as well as steam carrousels and circuses. With the advent of rail travel, Bakken became more accessible to the public and people from all levels of society gathered there to enjoy its amusements.

The 1930s saw the arrival of Bakken’s first roller coaster, which was quickly followed by other rides. The park expanded further to include an open air theatre, as well as other entertainment venues, such as the cabaret hall Bakkens Hvile and the Circus Revue.

Bakken Today – A Fun Day Out for All

Bakken today continues its long tradition of fun and amusement. Attracting over 2 million visitors a year, it is the second most popular attraction in Denmark. Home to rides, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, it offers visitors a relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere that embodies what the Danes call “hygge” (or cosiness). It is no wonder that scores of loyal visitors consider a trip to Bakken to be a must during the summer season.

Wonderful Copenhagen: City of New Nordic Cuisine

Denmark Credit-europesgreatest.com

Copenhagen Denmark Credit-europesgreatest.com

Copenhagen is currently one of the top new destinations for good food. Find out the best places to eat in the Scandinavian capital. The preferred slogan is wonderful and the capital of Denmark encapsulates this sense of wonder perfectly. Be it the buzz of the medieval lanes of the old town, the picturesque atmosphere of the canals or the general laid back character of the inhabitants, one thing is certain, Copenhagen has that inescapably continental charm.

However, that is not all the city has to offer. Copenhagen has, for some time, been making headlines with an extraordinary vibrant restaurant scene, and is currently pioneering the concept of New Nordic Cuisine.

Noma

On top of the list, leading the way among a dazzling array of fine eateries, is Noma. The restaurant is situated in an old warehouse on the Copenhagen waterfront, and has been acclaimed on several occasions to be the world’s finest restaurant. The concept is certainly daring. Recipes and raw materials are drawn from obscure Scandinavian origins, and cooking techniques and preparation are in the vein of places such as Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. In other words, it is pretty experimental stuff. The chef Rene Redzepi has recently published a cookbook entitled Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine.

New Nordic Cuisine

However, Noma is not the only of the capital’s restaurants to gain international attention. The city currently has seen 12 restaurants awarded with a Michelin star. The range of styles is wide, but an increasing trend has bolstered the concept of New Nordic Cuisine, a concept which Noma originally pioneered.

The emphasis on local produce is probably more marked than anywhere else at Dragsholm Castle restaurant, outside Copenhagen. With access to fresh produce at its doorstep, the 13th century castle and hotel is located an hour’s drive outside of the capital and has first dibs to the best of what the local land has to offer.

Foreign Food

However, Danish chefs, have also shown that they can handle non-Nordic fare. Danish Michelin chef Henrik Yde-Andersen, for instance, and his restaurant Kiin Kiin is currently the only Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in the World. The Era Ora is a Danish take on Italian food and French gourmet is served up in places such as Søllerød Kro, Formel B and Kokkeriet.

Hot dogs, bread and coffee

The Danish capital even offers innovative takes on traditional street food. The DOP cart in the old town, serves Danish hot dogs, or pølser as they are known locally, only these are organic and the bread roll is sourdough with whole wheat, rye and linseed.

The best bread in town is said to be found at Bech’s bakery on Store Kongensgade. Here you will find only one thing, sourdough bread of a recipe Bech says to have perfected over many years. Meanwhile, the best coffee is arguably to be had at the Coffee Collective in Nørrebro.

Beer

Copenhagen has a traditional love for beer and this is celebrated especially at Mikkeller, a small bar in Vesterbro. The place has 15 taps, 10 of which serve up a revolving roster of nearly 100 of Mikkeller’s wild beers. Some are available only at Mikkeller or they are released here first. At all ends of the range, therefore, the Danish love for great food is waiting to be enjoyed in Copenhagen.

A Castle Tour of North Zealand, Denmark

The area north of Copenhagen is not only home to beautiful landscapes, but to three magnificent castles and a wealth of royal history.

 A Castle Tour of North Zealand

A Castle Tour of North Zealand

The area of north of Copenhagen is home to rolling landscapes, sandy beaches, picturesque harbors and a wealth of history. Danish kings showed their love for this idyllic countryside, an ideal retreat for hunting and relaxing, by doing what any self-respecting monarch does and building castles. North Zealand is home to three major castles, as well as several castle ruins. These castles were used for defense, as royal residences and official state venues.

The North Zealand castles of Frederiksborg, Kronborg and Fredensborg are today open for visitors to discover the history of an area, which is sometimes called Royal Denmark.

Frederiksborg Castle and the Museum of National History

The magnificent Frederiksborg Castle is surrounded by a beautiful lake and Baroque gardens, in the North Zealand town of Hillerød. This Renaissance castle was built by Christian IV at the beginning of the 17th century in order to signify his position as a powerful North European ruler. The castle, with its ornate fountains and marble galleries, was used as a royal residence until the 18th century. Thereafter it was used primarily for official royal functions and coronations.

After a fire gutted much of the interior of the castle in 1859 and the founder of Carlsberg Brewery proposed that the renovation of the castle should include making it a museum for national history. Today, the castle is home to paintings, portraits and furniture representing over 500 years of Danish history.

Frederiksborg Castle and the Museum of National History are open every day all year round. A special exhibition on “Absolute Monarchy in Denmark 1660-1848,” marks the 350th anniversary of the absolute monarchy in Denmark and runs from October 2010 to January 2011.

Kronborg Castle, Helsingør

Kronborg Castle in the port town of Helsingør began its life in the 1400s, as a fortress. During the reign of Frederick II (1574-1585), it was rebuilt as a Renaissance castle with royal chambers and banqueting halls. Strategically located on the sound separating Denmark from Sweden, it was used primarily as a means of collecting tax revenue from ships passing by. The castle was also used as a military stronghold and barracks for soldiers and slaves.

Named as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, Kronborg Castle has been undergoing extensive renovations. The old castle ramparts have been restored to their former glory and authentic cannons have been placed back in their strategic positions. Visitors will find an interactive experience at Kronborg, with the noises and sounds of military marches, horses and music greeting their arrival. Several models showing Kronborg at different times in history have been placed around the grounds to help visitors learn about the history and øgrowth of the castle.

Many of the old barracks surrounding the castle have been converted into art studios and workshops. The castle also hosts outdoor theater (including a production of Hamlet) and opera. Kronborg Castle is open all year round and hosts guided tours every day.

Fredensborg Palace, the Danish Versailles

Known as the Danish Versailles, the Baroque castle of Fredensborg was built by Frederik IV to commemorate the end of the Great Northern War, in 1772. Fredensborg actually means the “Palace of Peace”. The palace was used as a retreat, where the royal family could relax and hunt away from the crowded confines of Copenhagen.

Fredensborg has been the setting for royal wedding receptions, wedding anniversaries and birthday parties. Leaders from around the world are received at the palace during official state visits. The current Royal Family still use the palace as a holiday retreat.

The gardens surrounding the palace are open to visitors all year round. These fine historic gardens include the popular “Nordmandsdalen” or Nordic Community in Stone, a series of 68 stone sculptures depicting real people, from farmers to fishermen, from Norway and the Faroe Islands. The private Royal Gardens and Orangery adjacent to the palace are open to the public in July, as well as parts of the palace and chapel.

Castle Ruins in North Zealand

The castle ruin of Søborg dates back from the 12th century and was once of Denmark’s strongest fortified castles. It was used as a prison for enemies of the Crown.

Asserbo was one of the first Christian fortresses in Denmark. It was abandoned and gradually fell to ruins in the 15th-17th centuries. Gurre Castle is the largest of the castle ruins in North Zealand. It was the favourite castle of Valdemar IV, who loved hunting there. The ruined stone tower is the oldest part of the fortification and dates from the last half of the 12th century.

Visiting the Castles of North Zealand

Visitors can find out more about the castles and North Zealand area by visiting the Visit Nordsjælland website.