The northern section of Copenhagen is where you’ll find the neighborhood of Norrebro. A staple of any Copenhagen sightseeing tour, here you’ll find Rosenborg Castle, the reconstruction of the Church of Our Lady and the National Art Gallery. But the best place to see them all at the same time is at the top of Rundetarn, or the Round Tower Copenhagen. Only 600 feet high, in many cities such a tower would barely register as noteworthy, but in a city like Copenhagen, which appears almost totally devoid of skyscrapers and corporate monoliths, the Round Tower offers a stunning panoramic view of the capital.
There are stairs in the tower, but few people use them. Instead, the Round Tower Copenhagen is outfitted with an enormous spiral ramp, supposedly used by Peter the Great of Russia to ascend to the tower’s precipice on horseback, as with wife followed in a carriage. Though this story is disputed as mere legend by some, there is no doubt that the two could have easily made their way to the top using the ramp’s gentle slopes.
The streets beneath the massive stone tower are warped and meandering, and nowhere is this more evident than from the top, making it a fine place to take in a little Copenhagen sightseeing - the Rosenborg Castle and Copenhagen Domkirke are especially impressive when viewed in the waning daylight. But offering seminal views are not the only function of the tower – it is also the oldest observatory in Europe. In fact, that was the tower’s initial use when it was built in 1642 by Christian IV, and though much about astronomy has evolved since then, the observatory continues to be in use to this day, even employing an onsite astronomer to field questions from curious tourists.
You’ll also find small art galleries inside the Round Tower Copenhagen, adding to its reputation as a truly renaissance building. The exhibits shift frequently, featuring anything from 17th century Danish painters to more modern affairs, and some are actually located along the enormous ramp, breaking up the climb nicely. If you are lucky, you might also be able to catch a concert inside the Round Tower – the acoustics of the circular stone walls give the music a powerful quality that seems to resound forever into the evening sky.
So no matter where you begin your Copenhagen sightseeing tour, you would be unwise to miss out on the Round Tower, an imposing figure in the city’s skyline that can supply education and appreciation in equal measures.