Little Mermaid Denmark
The marks of Denmark’s favorite son, Hans Christian Anderson, are all over the country, and the statue of the Little Mermaid Copenhagen proves that the capital city is no different. Though the author grew up in Odense, his country-wide influence is apparent along the banks of Copenhagen’s harbor. In 1837, he wrote a short story entitled “The Little Mermaid,” (widely recognizable from the adapted Disney movie), which enchanted the brewer Carl Jacobsen (founder of Carlsburg Breweries) so greatly that he had the statue erected in her honor. The location of his gift to the city was chosen specifically to be near the scenic harbor, making it near a number of popular attractions, such as Amalienhaven. Designed in 1913, the Little Mermaid Denmark is the most prominent sculpture by Edvard Eriksen and has become quite well known as one of the defining symbols of Copenhagen.
The Little Mermaid Denmark sits close to the shore of Langelinie on her granite resting place, gazing towards the harbor entrance. It is a short walk from the main cruise pier, meaning that it is nearby many of the Copenhagen’s other major attractions. Those strolling through the old port district of Nyhavn - or those lucky enough to have a Copenhagen hotel here - are sure to see the enormous crowds that gather at her feet.
The Denmark Little Mermaid is fairly small for a civic icon, and she is nothing like casual fans of the Disney movie would expect. The happy ending is nowhere to be found in Anderson’s original story – the Little Mermaid fails to win the young prince’s heart and is transformed into green sea foam. Not coincidentally, the Denmark Little Mermaid has a pall of sadness and yearning across her face, as if she wonders if trading her soul for a pair of legs was a well-informed decision.
The Little Mermaid Copenhagen, too, has not had much of a spiritually edifying stay in the city’s harbor. Though it has been said that the Disney movie based on Anderson’s story has done more for Danish tourism than all of its natural wonders combined, not everyone is so fond of the Little Mermaid Denmark. Vandalism has been a constant problem for the statue, dating all the way back to the 1960s. The Little Mermaid Copenhagen is habitually decapitated, knocked from her resting place, covered in paint, or some combination of all three. Even so, there is never a lack of people passing by the Denmark Little Mermaid – its status as a must see on any Copenhagen tour is assured for the time being.
Top image: News Oresund (flickr)