Posted in Travel

Northern Europe’s Oldest Observatory – Copenhagen Day 12

We’re in the final countdown now of our 2019 Copenhagen adventure, with only two days left. We managed to pack in several activities on our second to last day, so without further ado, let’s get into them!

If you missed last week’s post, we visited the Copenhagen Zoo!

We started the day by going to the Experimentarium, a science museum for kids. Am I kid? No. Did I still want to go? Der. Back home we’ve got Science World, which frankly is still fun as an adult, so why not have some fun with our last few hours by visiting the Danish version of a science play-palace for kids. It was definitely fun — I liked the Tunnel of Senses and playing with bubbles — but I’ll be loyal to my home turf and declare Science World better, haha.

Then, as it was a beautiful day, we took a stroll through the Botanical Garden, originally established in 1600 (in a different location) and later moved in 1870 to its current location and completed by 1874. The Botanical Garden is home to over 13,000 species, so there’s plenty to see as you weave through the many intersecting pathways that take you around the different areas. There are several greenhouses, including the historic tropical Palm House, built in 1872-1874 and inspired by the Crystal Palace in London during the 1852 World Exhibition. The Palm House is home to exotic and rare plants from around the world. There’s also a butterfly house, but it’s only open in the summer, so we were a bit early for that.

After our promenade through the garden, we popped into the Geological Museum, which is part of the Natural History Museum of Denmark collection run through the University of Copenhagen. This was particularly up my boyfriend’s alley, and he really enjoyed roaming the Mineral Halls where precious gems and minerals are on display. You can also see fossils and meteorites there.

Our final stop was the Round Tower, home to Northern Europe’s oldest observatory. This was a pretty neat sight. It’s in the middle of a busy shopping street, so there you’ll be just milling through the crowds of shoppers and suddenly a giant stone tower is in front of you (just Europe things). Built by Christian IV, the Round Tower was completed in 1642 and originally housed three things: the tower itself, home to the observatory; the connecting church; and, above the church, the University Library (which is now an exhibition space for art, history, and science). The tower stands at 34.8 meters.

Entering the tower, you’ll find yourself faced with the Spiral Ramp, which is exactly what it sounds like – a ramp spiraling up the tower. The whole way up to the top of the tower is this ramp (presumably so they could more easily get equipment to the top by pushing it instead of dealing with stairs), although today the last couple of turns are done on a short spiraling stairwell (when originally made, it was ramp all the way up). Rumour has it that a Russian tsar once rode a horse all the way up the tower, but who knows if that is true.

About halfway up the Spiral Ramp, there’s a landing zone where you can step off into the exhibition space I mentioned above. We poked our heads in here for a bit, but then it was back to climbing the ramp! As you near the top, you can duck out again to go outside on the observation decks for a lovely view of the city around you. When inside again, if you go the few extra steps up the stairs, you’ll find the observatory at the tippy top of the tower. I don’t think you can go into the observatory itself (at least we couldn’t when we were there), but you can poke your head in to see the telescope.

One of the coolest (and freakiest) things about the Round Tower is its core, which is completely hollow! Hollow and, might I add, open at the top. In 1880 an unfortunate choir boy discovered this the hard way when he fell in (don’t worry, they got him out). Luckily for visitors to the tower, nowadays the opening isn’t actually open anymore — but it is covered over in glass, and the brave among you are encouraged to step out over the hole and look down into the dark core leading all the way back down to the ground. I poked my head into the core to take a look down but said “No thank you!” to walking over the glass.

And with that adventure behind us (and a mug of hot chocolate from a nearby cafe), it was time to call it a day.

Only one day left now in Copenhagen! Make sure to check back next week for our final adventure.

In the meantime, check out my other travel stories.

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