Catching up with the Mermaid

Back in Copenhagen
Back in Copenhagen

We met last year at the Shanghai Expo, having a short encounter at the Danish Pavillon. She had traveled all this way to honor our city, so I was looking forward to meet her again in her normal home, Copenhagen. The meeting was arranged with a the help of a Danish friend in Shanghai who designed me a tour of the city to occupy my half day there. The little Mermaid from Andersen’s tale was there, like waiting for me, admired and photographed by every single tourist coming to the Danish capital. Her only ever travel was to the Shanghai Expo, since then she has been put back in place. Copenhagen is one of these European cities I always wanted to visit, but never really had the opportunity until this trip.

Citadel Park
Citadel Park

Feeling the air of Copenhagen spring and walking the streets of the Danish Capital, it feels really far far away from Shanghai bustling crowds. The mix of old city with brand new Scandinavian design really creates something unique. Like most European cities, most buildings are only a few storeys high, a nice change from sometimes oppressing Shanghai’s forest of high rises. Public transport is very well organised and highly effective, including underground, buses and boats travelling up the canals. The city center is not so large and can be walked around in half a day. Copenhagen is also famous for its parks, which are large and numerous creating a the feeling of nature right next to the city center. Just out of the plane from Shanghai, the difference was striking and painfully reminding how far from nature Shanghai inhabitants are.

Customs house
Customs house

Just like Shanghai, Copenhagen had a development phase in the 1930’s adding Art Deco buildings to the landscape. Copenhagen Art Deco, like Scandinavian design today, is more on the plain side than Shanghai (or New York) flamboyance. It is much more linked to the German Bauhaus style, but similar geometrical shapes as well as direction lines can found. The most seen buildings are surely the 1930’s Langebro brige and customs house on the harbor. However, the district developed in the 1930’s and built in Art Deco style is more about Christianhavn with a number a housing developments behind Langebro Bridge.

This short stay in Copenhagen was a stopover on the way to Greenland, the most opposite place to Shanghai on Earth I guess. Pictures from this fabulous trip are available at:

3 thoughts on “Catching up with the Mermaid”

  1. Hi!
    Well, now I must write to you …. I am a danish author, who went to Shanghai in september and went to visit the liltle mermaid on the Expo.
    I enjoy your page very much. I am working on a book that takes place in Shanghai in the 30 ´ties partly based on my mothers dairy from here and my fathers time there. My trip to Shanghai was for researching. I was very well prepared and have read a lot of books of old Shanghai, which fascinates me very much. And I reallye loved the town, all the old and also the new.
    If you ever visit Copenhagen again, you are welcome to contact me…

  2. Dear Hugues,

    thanks a lot for keeping me posted about your adventures.

    As I do not know Copenhagen and can only guess through your picture, could you please tell me which is the Customs building you are referring to? The low rise or the one in the background? The low rise building doesn’t seem to display much of the Art Deco characteristics, although it definitely looks Streamline Modern.
    As is the case for Shanghai’s late 20’s to 40’s legacy, rare are the Art Deco Buildings as seen in Miami or Napier, architects having early adopted a more horizontal, softened curvilinear, almost devoid of any decorative patterns style. I found Art Deco style more evident in interior decorations throughout Shanghai, Beaux-Arts buildings being often fitted with the up to date fashion style, not really suiting the exterior of buildings.

    Please let’s share lights about the subject.

    Kind regards.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.