Upon this, my second visit to Copenhagen, I would not be making the same mistake.
Having managed a pathetic ZERO minutes researching the round tower prior to handing over my Copenhagen Card to gain entry, all I expected was a good view from the viewing deck, proceeded by stairs. LOTS of stair! However, to my (pleasant) surprise, few such stairs awaited me. In fact, only a final spiral case of around 15 steps or so existed at the very top of the tower. Those I could handle.
Had I done said reading, I would have know that the 17th century structure built by Christian IV between 1637 and 1642, housed what is known as an equestrian staircase, or spiral ramp.
It look’s a bit like this …
This incredible spiral ramp is unique within Europe. It measures 209 metres in length, and coils around 7.5 times from bottom to top.
The design was chosen so that horses could reach the library, and also the observatory. How else was all the expensive astronomical instruments and equipment supposed to reach the top?
Despite being a ‘simple’ ramp, it’s actually quite good fun to simply walk up and down the ramp. The enjoyment probably owes a lot to the uniqueness of ascending/descending the tower. I also thought about how much fun it would be to snow/skateboard down the spiral ramp, but then re-considered once I remember how accident prone I am.
The deign lover in me also loved the smooth, pristine white walls, which when added to the light streaming in from arched windows, made beautifully bright interior.
Don’t look down … or do
As you may have noticed from the photo’s above, on the way up to (or down from) the viewing platform via the spiral walk, there is ample opportunity to hide out in one of these little alcoves and wait for your friends or family to pass before jumping out and giving them a tremendous fright.
However, one such alcove is different, very different. A recent addition to the tower is this ‘floating glass’ platform, hidden (sort of) within one of the alcoves, and which allows you to see 25 metres downwards to the base of the tower.
The glass is 50mm thick, and can hold 900 kg per square meter so it is safe to stand on … however I’ve put on a bit of weight lately, so I wasn’t brave enough to test those statistics. The view downwards was still great though, and if you are brave enough to stand upon the glass, you’ll have stood on Denmark’s point zero.
The view from the observation deck
So you’ve wound your way up 209 metres of spiral ramp, to the top of the tower, and now it’s time to reward yourself with some stunning views over Copenhagen.
From 34.5 metres above street level, the views are pretty good I would say. Don’t get me wrong, it helps when the sun is out, but even if it’s a little cloudy, the observation deck is still a great vantage point from which to look out over the Danish capital.
The Trinitatis Complex
The Round Tower makes up one part of what is know as the Trinitatis Complex. The other parts of the complex are the Tinitatis Church, an observatory and the University library.
The observatory is accessible via the Round Tower, and is Europe’s oldest functioning observatory. Back in the day, Copenhagen was pretty famous for its astronomical achievements, and a lot of those achievements owed a great deal to a Tyhco Brahe (who now has a planetarium with Copenhagen named after him), a Danish astronomer who has been described as “the first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts”. When Brahe died in 1601, King Christian IV wanted to carry on Copenhagen’s reputation and fame within astronomical circles, and so had the observatory built at the top of the Rundetaarn. It was used by the University of Copenhagen until 1861, but is now only used by amateur astronomers.
The Trinitatis Church, and indeed Trinitatis complex, get their names from the holy trinity. The church was inaugurated on Trinity Sunday 1656. Today it serves as a normal parish church with services every Sunday, but when first built it was built specifically for the professors and students of Copenhagen University.
The church standing today is not entirely original though. During the great Copenhagen fire of 1728 which made 20% of the cities population homeless, the church was heavily damaged. The church you can visit today re-opened in 1731 after a sizeable rebuilding project.
- Adults: DKK 25 (approx £2.40 / $3.75)
- Children (5 -15 years) DKK 5 (approx £0.50 / $0.75)
*entry is free if you have a Copenhagen Card.
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