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Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid Is Waiting For You!


Growing up, Disney’s animated movie “The Little Mermaid” was always one of my favorites. The little mermaid falls in love with a prince she rescues at sea and longingly wishes for the day they could be together again…

Disney's The Little Mermaid. Taken by jawavs via Flickr.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Taken by jawavs via Flickr.

And did you know that the story is actually inspired by the fairy tale of the same name written by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen?

Perhaps you did.

But did you also know that this story by Hans Christian Andersen also served as inspiration for one of Copenhagen’s most famous sights and one of the world’s most famous little ladies?

The Little Mermaid

In 1909 Carl Jacobsen, the son of the founder of the Carlsberg brewery, was fascinated by the ballet depicting the fairy tale story written by Andersen nearly 85 years earlier performed at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre and aptly named “The Little Mermaid”. He was equally as enthralled with the ballerina, Ellen Price and was thus inspired to cement (or, in this case bronze) the memory in the form of a statue.

The young sculptor Edvard Eriksen was commissioned for the piece and Ms. Price was asked to pose. She agreed to model for the head, but refused to the model the rest in the nude. Thus the sculptors wife, Eline Eriksen was used for the body.

The statue is made of bronze, 1.25 meters high and weighs 175 kilograms. It was first unveiled on August 23, 1913 in one of Copenhagen’s most frequented outdoor recreational spots: on a rock by the waterside at the Langelinie promenade.

Visit Her Today

Seems as though her prince isn’t coming. She’s been waiting over 100 years at this point, but nonetheless, The Little Mermaid remains one of Copenhagen’s most loyal figures. It is also one of the most famous sites for the city’s tourists. And it’s the most photographed statue in Denmark, with over 5 million annual snaps.

The Little Mermaid.
The Little Mermaid.
Closer look at the Little Mermaid sculpture. Taken by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr.
Closer look at the Little Mermaid sculpture. Taken by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr.

She sits just off the shore from the promenade, a short walk from the also famous Nyhavn area. Even on a cold winter day there were about thirty or so people standing by the windy waterside snapping photos of her. One guy even tried to stand on the rock next to her (someone that is strongly discouraged by the city as it could damage the statue) and he fell in.

Really… right before my very eyes.

Sad for him that he was now soaking wet in negative temperatures and sad for me that I didn’t get a photograph of that…

There are some ideas to move The Little Mermaid from her perch so close to the shore to discourage vandalism. Since she first took her place in 1913 she has been decapitated a few times, her arm cut off, paint poured on her and even blown off her perch (possibly by explosives). Each time, however, she is restored to her rightful spot, sitting on the rock, welcoming visitors to Copenhagen Harbor and patiently waiting until the day her prince arrives.

[Wikipedia], [Copenhagenet]