The Great European Adventure

Statues of Copenhagen: A Photo Essay

The Little Mermaid is Copenhagen’s most famous statue.The Little Mermaid Copenhagen statue It has become an iconic symbol of the city and a major tourist attraction. Sculpted by Edvard Eriksen and unveiled in 1913, the statue is based on the fairytale The Little Mermaid, which was originally written by the Danish author and poet, Hans Christian Andersen. It’s a lovely statue of a wistful mermaid, but it’s hard to say why it became so famous. It’s certainly not because of its size — the mermaid is just over 4 ft tall (1.25 meters).

And it’s not as if it’s the only statue in Copenhagen.

In fact, as I wandered the city, I was struck by just how many statues there were. It seemed an inordinate amount. Many of them had two things in common — firstly, they had been weathered to a distinct shade of green.

Allegory of the Nile

And secondly… they were weird.

The statue above is an allegory for the Nile, apparently, and I see the Sphinx, but what it comes down to is a sculpture of a bunch of tiny babies climbing on a giant. And, maybe it’s just me, but… that seemed a little weird.


A number of unusual sculptures can be found in Ørstedsparken (Ørsted Park), including this one. It depicts a man attempting to convince a lizard to crawl onto his arm, and is based off an ancient Greek sculpture owned by the Louvre, which is called Apollo Sauroktonos, which translates to…

Apollo Lizard-Slayer.

Bertel Thorvaldsen

This statue is a memorial to Bertel Thorvaldsen, a famous Danish sculptor of the early 19th century. That’s nice, but I just can’t get over how creepily that angel is looming over him and how oblivious he is to his imminent doom.

Satyr Drinking Wine

This last statue from Ørsted Park was sculpted by Louis Hasselriis, and depicts a young satyr drinking some wine.

Through a straw.

I suppose I don’t know how else one drinks wine from an urn.

Depressed Man With Key

Other interesting statues you may encounter outside of Ørsted Park include this depressed man sitting on a key. I’m in the photo to provide comfort… and some context for his size.

The David

Here we see The David, resplendent in green.

Rosenborg Gardens

And while walking the grounds of Rosenborg Slot (Rosenborg Castle), I came upon this cherub strangling a swan.

copenhagen statue

These dragon-ish beings keep watch all around City Hall, so it’s almost as hard to miss them as it is to figure out what they are.

It's not you, it's me

And finally, my favorite statue that I encountered over the course of my week in Copenhagen had to be this one because it looked to me as if the sculptor chose to immortalize a couple breaking up.

She wants to see other people, but she values his friendship.

Is Copenhagen the European capital of statues that have something just a little bit off about them, or have you seen a higher concentration of weird elsewhere?

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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  • joannesisco

    I ran across this old blog post while I was preparing a post about Copenhagen. I had written an earlier piece last summer about the unusual statues I found while travelling through the Scandinavian countries, but Copenhagen definitely has more than her fair share of them.

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I’m glad I’m not the only one who found their statues a bit odd. You introduced me to a few I hadn’t seen!

  • Chris Lynagh

    I loved roaming places in Scandinavia, and yes, there’s some depth of mystery in many statues there. Some of them speak grad fly of the human condition.

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