We left Højbro Plads by walking south toward Slotsholmen, the birthplace of Copenhagen. We crossed the Højbro bridge and stepped foot on the island where Bishop Absalon built his castle and founded the city. You could spend a whole day exploring the buildings around Slotsholmen. The main focal point of the island is Christiansborg Palace, former residence to the roayal family, and now home to the Royal Receiving Rooms, the Prime Minister’s office, the Supreme Court and the Folketinget, or Parliament. We entered a courtyard on the north west side of the palace to have a quick look at the outside of the Thorvaldsens Museum which houses works by Denmark’s most famous sculpter for whom the building is named. The building is one large rectangle, and would go unnoticed if not for the series of murals depicting Thorvaldsen’s work painted on the side of the building. Above the murals the remaining stone was painted gold and accented by white painted mouldings.
Exiting through the same passageway, we decided to walk the perimeter of the island as the few attractions we planned to see did not open for a couple hours. The front of the palace was lined with four stories of windows and large wooden doors every hundred feet or so. Directly east of the palace was the Børsen – Copenhangen’s stock exchange built by Christian IV (the King responsible for building many of Copenhangen’s now famous sites). The building housed the stock exchange until the mid-1970’s and now houses offices of various government departments. The building was absolutely beautiful – long and narrow with a green-copper roof. Midway along the building was a large spire made of four dragon tails – the bodies of the dragons sit atop a lookout tower. We continued along the Børsen and after passing another green roofed building turned south. All of the buildings on Slotsholmen have an old-world look, with the exception of one – Den Sorte Diamant, or Black Diamond. This is the most recent addition to the Det Kongelige Bibliotek, or Danish Royal Library. The building was all glass and steel in two large square buildings connected by a couple bridges crossing over a busy street. Just before reaching the Black Diamond we turned west to enter the center of the island and walked past the original building of the Royal Library, which very much fit with the rest of the island. Behind the Royal Library was a large courtyard called Det Kongelige Biblioteks Have. The courtyard was breathtakingly beautiful. In the center was a large fountain and reflection pool surrounded by reddish-brown gravel paths. Tall skinny trees lined the paths and created canopies with their orange and yellow leafed branches. We lingered for a few minutes taking in all the colors.
We exitied through an arched passageway and headed for the rear of Christiansborg Palace. The entire central courtyard of the palace was filled with cars and the main tower of the palace was more than halfway covered with scaffolding. Sitting southeast of the main courtyard is the Ridebane, or the Royal Riding Grounds. The royal horses and carriages are housed in the Royal Stables next to the training area. We proceeded through the Royal Riding Grounds and walked south along the island and turned east toward the opposite side of the Black Diamond. On the southwest side of the island sits two large brick buildings: the Bryghus, or brewhouse, and Tøjhuset, or arsenal.