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Copenhagen Information

Copenhagen holds the title of being the largest city in Scandinavia, which is a region comprised of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Way back in 1167, a small village that included a market, a church, and a few water wells existed on Slotsholmen Island. King Valdemar I of Denmark charged Bishop Absalon, the king's counsellor, with the task of building a fortress on the island to help protect the trade that was taking place on the Sound. A castle was constructed for such purpose. Some historians tend to believe that a town existed in this location even as far back as the latter part of the Viking Age and may have been founded by Sweyn I Forkbeard.

After the castle was constructed, the village on the harbor took the name Komandshavn, which means Merchant's Port. Later, the name was shortened to Kobenhavn. The fortification was destroyed about 200 years later in 1369 when Hanseatic states attacked. About seven years after the destruction took place, construction on Copenhagen Castle was started, and King Erik of Pomerania moved into the new fortress in 1416.

Elaborate splendor did not appear in the city, however, until Christian IV began his reign in the early 1600s. He was a Renaissance designer who had two new castles constructed and also added the Rundetam Observatory. In addition, he is responsible for creating Europe's first stock exchange, the Borsen.

Tragedy struck when the bubonic plague hit the area hard in 1711. Approximately 20,000 of the city's 60,000 inhabitants were killed. Further destruction hit in the form of fires in 1728 and 1795 that totally annihilated most of the city's timber structures. One of the most devastating events to ever occur in the city's history, however, was when Britain bombed Copenhagen in 1807 without provocation. This assault took place during the Napoleonic Wars. The heart of the city was the target, and large numbers of civilians were killed as public buildings, homes and churches were set on fire.

The city was occupied by the Nazis during WWII but somehow seemed to come out of that dark period mostly unscathed. In the aftermath, the neighborhoods and locations that had turned into slums began to have a rebirth in 1948 when the Finger Plan, an urban renewal policy, redeveloped the city. Parks, new housing projects and recreational facilities spread from the city center like fingers, renewing life in Copenhagen.

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