10 Places in Copenhagen Linked to Colonialism

Rune Edberg

Age of Revolution
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Denmark’s past as a colonial power can be seen in some of Copenhagen’s most prominent buildings. From 1672 to 1917, Denmark controlled three islands in the Caribbean. They were known as the Danish West Indies (present day US Virgin Islands).

From the 1670s to the 1840s Copenhagen’s numerous merchant ships took part in the triangular trade, transporting goods to the coasts of present-day Ghana. These goods were traded for slaves, who were shipped to the Danish colonies in the Caribbean and again traded for sugar and tobacco. For a 175-year period, Denmark transported 100,000 slaves across the Atlantic, making the country the seventh largest slave-trading nation in Europe.

1. The Statue of King Frederik V at Amalienborg Palace

In the centre of the Amalienborg Palace square is a bronze statue of the Danish King Frederik V (1723-1766) by the French sculptor Jacques- Francois Saly. It was a gift to the King from the slave-trading company Asiatisk Kompagni.

Statue of Frederik V at Amalienborg Palace. Image credit: Robert Hendel

2. Christian IX´s Mansion at Amalienborg Palace

Christian IX´s mansion at the Amalienborg Palace used to be known as Moltkes Palæ (Ie: Moltkes Mansion). Built between 1750 and 1754, it was funded by the slave trader Adam Gottlob Moltke (1710-1792).

3. The Yellow Mansion / Det Gule Palæ

18 Amaliegade is home to a mansion that was built between 1759-64. It was designed by the French architect Nicolas-Henri Jardin and owned by the Danish slave trader Frederik Bargum (1733-1800). Bargum made his wealth by participating in the triangular trade between Africa, the West Indies and Europe.

Olivette Otele, Professor of History and Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society, answers key questions about the history of the slave trade. From its origins to its abolishment.Watch Now

4. Odd Fellow Mansion / Odd Fellow Palæet

The Odd Fellow Mansion at 28 Bredgade was previously owned by the slave trader Count Heinrich Carl Schimmelmann (1724-1782). His son Ernst Heinrich (1747-1831) also owned slaves, though he wanted to ban slavery. Today the family has a street named after them in the municipality of Gentofte, north of Copenhagen.

5. Dehns Mansion / Dehns Palæ

Dehns Mansion at 54 Bredgade was once owned by the MacEvoy family. They were the biggest slaveowners in the Danish West Indies with more than a thousand slaves.

6. 39 Ovengaden Neden Vandet

The big white house situated at 39 Ovengade Neden Vandet was built in 1777 and owned by the Danish slave trader Jeppe Praetorius (1745-1823). He transported thousands of African slaves to the Danish colonies in the West Indies. Praetorius also owned several slave ships and his own sugar refinery at 26 Strandgade, Praetorius was also a co-owner of the biggest slave trading company in Denmark, Østersøisk-Guineiske Handelskompagni (transl.: Baltic-Guinean Trade Company), which had their warehouses at 24-28 Toldbodgade.

Historian Luke Pepera looks at how and why the history of Africa was written out of world history. He also explores how and why, as a consequence of this, the history of Africans in Britain was written out of British history.Watch Now

7. Copenhagen Admiral Hotel

Located at 24-28 Toldbodgade and built in 1787, the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel was designed by the Danish engineer Ernst Peymann, who later became Commander of the defense of Copenhagen under the British bombardment in 1807. The warehouse was owned by the Østersøisk-Guineiske Handelskompagni (transl.: The Baltic-Guinean Trade Company).

The Admiral Hotel. Image credit: Robert Hendel

8. 11 Nyhavn

The house at 11 Nyhavn was once a sugar refinery. The only trace of its former function is the little bronze figurine holding a sugarloaf in its right hand and a sugar mold in its left hand.

9. The West Indian Warehouse / Vestindisk Pakhus

Built in 1780-81 and located at 40 Toldbodgade, the former owners of the West Indian Warehouse were the slave-trading company Vestindisk Handelsselskab (transl.: West Indian Trading Company). The company stored goods here such as sugar from the colonies. The sculpture in front of the warehouse is called “I Am Queen Mary”. It was created by the artists La Vaughn Belle from the US Virgin Islands and Jeannette Ehlers from Denmark. It portrays Mary Leticia Thomas also known as Queen Mary. She was one of the leading figures in the freedom struggle against the Danish colonial powers.

West Indian Warehouse. Image credit: Robert Hendel

10. 45A-B Bredgade

The Governor of the Danish West Indies Peter von Scholten (1784-1854) and his family resided at 45A-B Bredgade. He is famous in Denmark for being the Governor who granted freedom to slaves. In present day US Virgin Islands however, the story is perceived quite differently by the locals. Here focus is on their own struggle for freedom.

Rune Edberg