The architectural style of Copenhagen, Denmark, is diverse, ranging from Christian IV’s early 17th-century landmarks to the elegant 17th-century mansions and palaces of Frederiksstaden, to late 19th-century residential parts of the city and cultural institutions, to 20th-century modernist contributions like Arne Jacobsen’s National Bank and SAS Royal Hotel.

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Copenhagen is regarded as a model of good urban planning around the world. Its lively mixed-use city centre is characterized by outstanding contemporary architecture, vibrant public areas, and a flurry of human activity. These architectural outcomes were purposefully attained in the latter half of the twentieth century by rigorous replanning, with important contributions from both leading international designers and a flood of new renowned Danish architects.

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copenhagen landmarks_getty images

Medieval times

The Church of St. Petri is regarded to be the oldest remaining building in Copenhagen’s inner city. The tower, centre nave, and choir were all built in the 16th century. Roskilde Cathedral, built-in 1170 and located in the city of Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, which served as the capital of the country before Copenhagen, is the most important medieval edifice in the Copenhagen area.

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St.Peters Church_Wikimapia

Renaissance period

Copenhagen rose in importance over the ages, and several notable landmarks in modern-day Copenhagen date from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This can also be credited to Christian IV’s untiring efforts since he is regarded in Denmark as “the builder king” due to his legacy of and engagement in huge construction projects.

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Rosenborg Castle_Thomas Hyrup Christensen

The Dutch Renaissance style, sometimes known as the “Christian IV style” in Denmark, is represented by Rosenborg Castle and the historic Stock Exchange in central Copenhagen, and Frederiksborg Palace in Hillerd. Christian IV also established the Christianshavn and Nyboder neighborhoods, as well as key green spaces such as King’s Garden and Kastellet.


The Round Tower, Our Saviour’s Church, and Fredensborg Palace are all examples of baroque architecture in Copenhagen.


Frederiksstaden was built in the late 18th century under the rule of Frederick V and is considered one of Europe’s most prominent Rococo complexes. It was created to honour the 300th anniversary of the House of Oldenburg assuming the Danish crown. A. G. Moltke was in charge of the project, with Nicolai Eigtved as the chief architect.

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Amalienborg Castle_Martin Heiberg

Amalienborg Palace and Marble Church are at the heart of Frederiksstaden, and together they form an axis that was extended in 2005 with the construction of the new Copenhagen Opera House on the outskirts of the harbour basin. Straight broad streets in a right street network characterize the district. The streets are adorned with mansions, palaces, and bourgeois dwellings. The royal Frederiks Hospital, another prominent structure in the neighborhood, was Denmark’s foremost hospital in the modern sense of the word. It now serves as the home of the Danish Museum of Art and Design.

21 century: modernist architecture and urban development

In recent years, there has been a surge in modernist architecture in Copenhagen, both by Danish and international architects. For hundreds of years, almost no foreign architects engaged in Copenhagen, but since the millennium, the city and its environs have seen structures and projects created by major global architects. Simultaneously, a handful of Danish architects have found success both in Denmark and abroad.

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During the first half of the twentieth century, the industry had a significant impact on Copenhagen’s urban growth. In response to improvements in transportation, trade, and communication, Copenhagen Municipality embraced Fordism and remodelled its medieval centre to allow private automotive infrastructure after WWII.

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Garden City conceptualized_Google earth

Before the 1960s, Ebenezer Howard’s notion of the Garden City pierced Copenhagen’s blueprint. Different versions of Garden City in the United Kingdom.

Jan Gehl, a Danish architect, changed the course of Copenhagen’s development in 1962 by pedestrianizing important areas of the centre of the city to improve human on-street circumstances.

When inadequate architecture, poor safety, and overburdening car infrastructures limit human participation in public spaces, Gehl noted, the standard of living among buildings suffers.

In 1962, Gehl began the redevelopment of Copenhagen by pedestrianizing Street, the city’s principal interior transit route.

Although Gehl’s work in reimagining Copenhagen’s urban shape is now hailed as a true innovation, the redevelopment was influenced by several past planning ideas. Most significantly, Gehl draws influence from the urban environment.

Although Gehl’s work in reimagining Copenhagen’s urban shape is now hailed as a true innovation, the redevelopment was influenced by several past planning ideas. Specifically, Gehl was influenced by the urban forms that were prevalent throughout Southern European cities before the 16th century. Intricate street systems, with irregular layouts, tight corners, and narrow laneways, created compelling pedestrian experiences in these urban areas.

Strøget_Erik Hageman

Awards and recognition

Four years in a row, buildings in Copenhagen have earned RIBA European Awards. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects designed the remaining three. Bjarke Ingels Group earned a prize for the World’s Best Residential Building 2008 for quite a house in Restad now at the 2008 World Architecture Festival in Barcelona. Copenhagen was crowned the World’s Best Design City in 2008 by the British design magazine Monocle 2008. The Silo, built by Danish designer Dan Stubbergaard and his Cobe team, was named one of CNN’s most anticipated buildings for 2018.


VisitCopenhagen. 2022. Experience world-class modern architecture | VisitCopenhagen. [online] Available at: <>.

HiSoUR – Hi So You Are. 2022. Architecture in Copenhagen. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 April 2022].

  1. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 April 2022].

Architectural Digest. 2022. 22 Stunning Architectural Landmarks in Copenhagen. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 April 2022].


A final-year architecture student who enjoys traveling and learning about culture, architecture, and history. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and scribbling down her ideas. She attempts to capture many perspectives on the world through her writings.