Rundetaarn: The Round Tower

The Round Tower dates back to the 17th century and is the oldest observatory in Europe. Although the scientists have left long ago, the tower serves as a lookout for amateur astronomers and visitors.

CPH1_-47CPH1_-49The Gateway to the tower features the monograms of several Danish monarchs. CPH1_-50Danish Astronomer Tycho Brahe inspired the building of the Round Tower some decades after his death in 1601.  An interesting fact about this man is that Brahe lost part of his nose in a duel with a fellow nobleman. He received a prosthetic nose said to be of gold or silver held onto his face with paste. In 2010, his body was exhumed and the nose was found to be made of brass.CPH1_-51Although it was never used as the church’s tower, the chapel of the Trinity Church is part of the Round Tower complex.


Rather than climb flights of stairs to the observation deck, a 7.5-turn spiral ramp is the the only access way to the observatory as well as the Library Hall and the Bell-Ringer’s Loft, both located above the church. You walk 7.5 times around the core of the tower before reaching the observation deck and observatory at the top. This allowed a horse and carriage to reach the library making it easy to move books in and out as well as transporting heavy and sensitive instruments to the observatory. Tzar Peter the Great rode to the observation deck on horseback with his wife Catherine in tow in her carriage behind. In later days both bicycles and motor vehicles have made the ascent.CPH1_-55CPH1_-53CPH1_-56

Thick wooden beams characterize the Bell Ringer’s Loft.


The letters RFP in the ornate ironwork railings are from King Christian IV’s motto: “Regna Firmat Pietas” or “Piety Strengthens the Realm.”


From the observation deck you get a 360 degree view of the city. On a clear day you can see for miles in all directions. The city is sprinkled with the spires of many churches.





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