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Copenhagen / København

facts in brief

Part of Braun and Hogenberg IV-28 map, 1588
Part of Braun and Hogenberg IV-28 map, 1588

Facts in brief:

The city of Copenhagen is the capital and the largest city in Denmark. It is situated on the islands of Zealand and Amager on the Øresund sound. Its development began around the 10th century when a small fishing village was founded on the site of the modern city. In 1167 ramparts and a moat were built there, with a castle on a small islet off the coast. It became the capital of the kingdom of Denmark and the royal residence in 1445. During the strife of the Protestant Reformation the town was often sacked, was twice destroyed by the Hanseatic League. In the late 16th century, the city's trade began to prosper and the city extended its boundaries. It was besieged by Sweden, 1658-1660, and bombarded by the British in 1801 and 1807. Its ramparts were torn down in 1856 and the city continued to grow, reaching out to incorporate many nearby towns. It was occupied by Germany from 1940 to 1945. Despite the sackings and two major fires in the 18th century, much remains of the city's historic architecture, a lot of it now converted to administrative and academic use. In the King's New Square, laid out in the 17th century, are the Thott Palace, now the French Embassy, and the Charlottenberg Palace, now the Royal Academy of Fine Art. Christiansborg Palace on the islet of Slotsholmen, built on the ruins of the castle built there in 1167, now houses the Danish Parliament, Supreme Court, and Foreign Office. Other notable structures include the Petri Church, which after 1585 became the parish church for the German residents, the 17th-century citadel, and the University of Copenhagen, founded in 1479. The city has been a center of commerce and shipping since medieval times, and is now also an industrial center with shipbuilding, brewing, canning, and machinery manufacture being major activities. For institutions of higher learning, besides the University of Copenhagen, are the Royal Academy of Music (1867), the Technical University of Denmark (1829), the Engineering Academy of Denmark (1957), and the Copenhagen School of Economics and Business Administration (1917). The 2004 population estimate was 619,900.

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