Frederiksberg Have

Frederiksberg Have (English: Frederiksberg Park) is one of the largest and most attractive green spaces in Copenhagen, Denmark. Together with the adjacent Søndermarken it forms a green area of 64 hectares at the western edge of Inner Copenhagen. It is a romantic landscape garden designed in the English style.

Frederiksberg Have was established by King Frederik IV in connection with the construction of Frederiksberg Palace as his new summer retreat on high grounds atop Valby Hill.

Work on the project began in the last half of the 1690s with inspiration from Italy and France, which Frederick, at that time still Crown Prince, had visited on several occasions. He commissioned the eminent Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin to draw a proposal and then Hans Heinrich Scheel – a captain in the Corps of Royal Engineers – subsequently made the final plan.

The plan involved a parterre with a complex system of cascades on the sloping terrain in front of the new palace. In the end Johan Cornelius Krieger was called upon to redesign the parterre. Unusually of the time, he gave up the parterre completely and instead transformed the slope into a series of terraces.

In about 1800, as fashion changed, the park was adapted into an English landscape garden.

The rest of Frederiksberg Garden has been remodelled as a scenic garden with winding lawns, lakes, canals and spinneys as well as grottos, temples, pavilions and summerhouses. It may well have been based on Johan Ludwig Mansa’s book on English-style gardening written in 1798.

The Palace garden was particularly used by Frederik VI who spent much time in the grounds and sailing the canals in a gondola. Not until 1865 did access to the park become unrestricted.

Frederiksberg Park is an English-style Romantic landscape garden with winding paths, canals, lakes, small islands and magnificent trees.

Typically of the romantic landscape garden, the park houses two follies, waterfalls, grottos and other garden features.

The main entrance to Frederiksberg Gardens was, in its present form, built in 1755, following the fire two years earlier at the Prince’s House, the precursor of Frederiksberg Palace, which used to be located at the site. The gate was designed by Lauritz de Thurah who had become general master builder after Eigtved’s death. The vases at the top of the two sandstone pillars were executed by the sculptor Johann Friedrich Hännel.

The gate opens to a path which passes between two long, yellow buildings with white details. They are the two surviving wings of the Prince’s House. The south wing, located on the left-hand side when entering the park, was converted into an orangery by Nicolai Eigtved in 1744 and is now part of the Royal Danish Horticultural Society’s Garden. The north wing, located on the right-hand side, is used by the park’s administration.

The Chinese summerhouse was completed in 1803 as a replacement for a pavilion, which had stood at the center of the baroque garden but was pulled down in 1799. It was sited on a small artificial island accessible by a bridge which was built to a matching Chinese design.

The summerhouse was built by the court architect Andreas Kirkerup, and like the rest of the buildings in the park it was a feature well known from the English garden.

Both the exterior and the interior has rich Chinese-inspired decorations, pictures, characters and other ornaments, and there were bells on the roof. Imitation bamboo was used the ceilings.

The Apis Temple is located on the border to Copenhagen Zoo. It was designed in the style of a Roman temple by the painter Nicolai Abildgaard and built in 1802. It is named for the Egyptian bull-deity Apis which is depicted on the fronton. The temple front consists of 10 columns of which 8 are recycled from a rebuilding of Moltke’s Palace while the last 2 columns are replicas. Decorations include the Ox Cranium Frieze and the Bull Relief, both carved in sandstone.

On the inside, the temple consists of a barrel vaulted room with two windows which originally had stained glass. The room was furnished with a sofa, chairs and console tables which the royalties could use for drinking tea. From 1874 to 1970 the temple was used as entrance to the Zoo which had been built in 1859 and the décor changed. The temple is occasionally open for the public and has been used for art exhibitions.

Like the Apis Temple, the Swiss Cottage lies in the part of the park that was incorporated when the park was redesigned in the Romantic style. Designed by Abildgaard and built between 1800 and 1801, the contains a hall, a cabinet and some smaller rooms in which the royal family could take coffee after dinner or a stroll in the garden. In 1894, the house was converted into a residence for the castle gardener, and the interior was radically altered.

The style has little to do with Switzerland but the name bears testament to the period’s fascination with mountainous regions. The cottage was built next to a small lake and the vegetation around the cottage was adapted, with conifers instead of deciduous trees, to create the right atmosphere of the setting.

Close to the Swiss Cottage stands the Pheasantry, which was designed by J.C. Krieger and built in 1723. As the name suggests, the building was originally built in connection with a pheasantry, which raised pheasants for the royal household. It served as summer residence for Adam Oehlenschläger and his family from 1842 to 1850.

Another garden feature typical of the romantic garden is an artificial waterfall. The waterfall is 7 metres high and partly created out of marble blocks from the building site of the Marble Church.

When Norman Foster, in collaboration with the Danish landscape architect Stig L. Andersson, designed the new Elephant House for the adjacent Copenhagen Zoo, it was done as an extension of Frederiksberg Park. A simple fence has replaced a three-metre high wall that once separated the two, so that visitors to the public park can now watch the elephants, while affording the elephants distant views as well.

Near the north entrance to the park, there is also a Soothers’ tree – a dummy tree – where children who have outgrown the need to use a pacifier leave their pacifiers by hanging them on the branch, sometimes with a letter.

Every year on Midsummer Eve, the park is a rallying point for thousands of people who attend community singing, speeches, music and a “witch”-burning bonfire at the lakeside in front of the palace.

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