around the head of the 68-mile-long Oslofjord, Oslo is probably the most
spacious city in the world. Its 175-square-mile metropolitan area
consists of over 75 percent forests and five percent water. Its fine
deep harbor, Pipervika, stretches into the heart of the city and from it
leave ferries to Denmark and Germany.
The Round Tower
by Bob Brooke
King Christian IV of Denmark transformed the city of
Copenhagen into the most beautiful in Scandinavia. The crowning
touch of this transformation was the Rundetarn, or the Round Tower,
an observatory attached to a church.
Early in the King’s reign, he laid out a new section of town, which
he named Christianshavn. The Round Tower looms over the old
professor houses situated in the narrow streets in the old Latin
quarter. Surrounded by churches and standing opposite the old
students' residence hall "Regensen," also built by Christian IV, the
tower connects with Vor Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady).
Why did the King build this tower? He was a practical monarch, so he
didn’t mind erecting a church for the benefit of the students of the
Regensen and the professors of the university, but he wanted more
than that. Since a church tower is of little use, King Christian
decided to combine the church with an observatory, then used the
church’s large attic to house the university library.
In 1637, workers laid the foundation stone for the tower. A plaque
at its entrance states in Latin that the king laid the stone
himself. Unfortunately, he was in Germany at the time, but it does
acknowledge the King’s personal involvement in the construction of
the observatory. Historians believe King Christian got the idea for
the observatory tower from Christen Longomontanus, a professor of
astronomy and a pupil of the famous astronomer Tycho Brahe.
Christian IV was a builder and a knowledgeable entrepreneur who knew
what he wanted, but he wasn’t an architect. Few drawings of the
buildings he had built exist. One that does remain shows the picture
puzzle which the King decided should be placed on the wall of the
tower. Each of its parts—Doctrinam, meaning learning; justice,
symbolized by the sword; dirige, meaning lead; Jehovah, in Hebrew
characters, in the heart of Christian IV—together translates to
"Lead, Oh Lord, learning and justice into the heart of the crowned
King Christian IV." To this day, It has puzzled many.
This mysterious inscription is not the tower’s only peculiarity.
Inside, a winding brick walkway twists like a spiral in eight or
nine turns around the massive core of the 35 meter high tower. When
workers completed the tower in 1642, King Christian wanted to ride
up the winding walk, which eventually ends a staircase only a short
distance before the platform of the observatory.
But the King wasn’t the only royal to ride to the top of the tower.
When Czar Peter the Great of Russia visited Copenhagen in 1721, he
also rode to the top. The Czarina followed in a carriage drawn by
six horses, no less! As the tower gained in popularity, the people
of Copenhagen grew to love it. King Frederik IV finally opened it to
the public for a small fee so that everyone could enjoy a view of
Workers didn’t complete construction on the church, itself, until
after King Christian’s death in 1656. In 1728, the Great Fire in
Copenhagen partially destroyed both the church and the library. The
Round Tower was too solid to catch fire and, thus, survived. Today,
the old library attic acts as an exhibition space.
It wasn't only the Czar Peter the Great who loved the Round Tower.
The residents of Copenhagen did, also. Today, the tower attracts
almost as many tourists as Tivoli and the Little Mermaid. And though
there are taller towers commanding wider views than the Round Tower,
the view from it is special. As an old man, King Christian enjoyed
the view from his tower, satisfied with everything he had built and
given to Copenhagen.
Every year about 95 000 people die in
Sweden and, according to the law, everyone must be buried. There must be
room for everyone in the cemeteries, therefore the future needs of space
have to be predicted. Because of this funerals must be part of the
the early Middle Ages, driven by famine at home and the promise of
wealth to be had in other lands, the Vikings set out from Scandinavia to
conquer parts of England, Ireland, France, Russia, and even Turkey.
Bolstered by their successes, the Vikings pushed westward, eventually
crossing the North Atlantic and founding settlements in Iceland,
Greenland, and Newfoundland in Canada. Read
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