Little Mermaid and Merman

On a boat ride down the canals of Copenhagen, we briefly stopped in the waters at Langelinie pier and the guide pointed out to the statue of the Little Mermaid, created by sculptor Edvard Eriksen in 1913. It took a while to find her (looking from the boat) as there were crowds of people that sunny evening, some right on top of the rocks on which she sits. The size of the statue is small (about 4 feet) so she doesn’t stand out, so all we got was an unsatisfying view of her rear. The guide went on to point out that this Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale is not a ‘happily ever after story’ as the mermaid does not win over the prince, and it in fact ends tragically with her becoming an immortal soul.

How can one visit Copenhagen and not see the Little Mermaid? Properly that is. So before we left Copenhagen, on a chilly rainy day, we made it a point to take a walk to the pier from our ferry point.

We first encountered a tall polar bear with two cubs. The plaque at the bottom says it was made by Holger Wederkinch, in 1929.

Polar bear with cubs
Polar bear with cubs

Right opposite the bears we found a big mermaid statue. The green streaks of oxidised copper that are seen on all the bronze statues of the region were absent. Of course! This statue is carved in granite stone. And it looked relatively new. We later found out that it was installed in 2007.  At about 15 feet, it is quite impressive.

Big mermaid
A new Big Mermaid statue

As we walked on the promenade still looking out for the Little Mermaid, we passed another statue – a serene angel, with an olive wreath in hand. The base all around, has sculptures of boats and sailors. Built in 1928, this Sofartsmonumentet (Maritime Monument) is a memorial to the Danish sailors who died at sea during World War 1. There were very few people and it looked like this area is not much visited by tourists.

Angel Søfartsmonumentet
Søfartsmonumentet (Maritime Monument)

And then we finally saw the tourist buses… and the Little Mermaid. Some good soul had left a bouquet of red roses on the stone beneath her rock.

Little Mermaid 3

Despite the rain, there were many visitors. Everyone clicking away from all angles (me included!). This must be one of the most photographed statues in Copenhagen, and we made our fair contribution.

Little Mermaid 1Little Mermaid 2Little Mermaid 4

Before we got to see the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, we had visited Helsingor, to see Hamlet’s Kronberg Castle. At the port at the far end of one of the piers, amidst anchored boats, facing the castle, we saw a statue that could quite be mistaken for the mermaid. Except that it is a boy with human legs, and it is made of shiny steel. This is Han (Danish for “he”) who is sometimes referred to as the Little Merman, the brother of the Little Mermaid. Made by Danish artists Elmgreen and Dragset, the statue was installed in 2012. The surface is so shiny that one cannot look at Han without seeing oneself. And there is another unique feature – a hydraulic system inside the staue, designed so that once every hour, Han’s eyes blink for a split second.

Little Merman
Han, the Merman at Helsingor


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s