The Little Mermaid is, in my opinion, a rather controversial attraction. It is small. It is not the most beautiful statue in the world. And the area around it is always filled with tourists.
On the other hand, The Little Mermaid statue is legendary. It’s an icon. Everyone knows it. It simply is world-famous.
I am having a hard time deciding whether to tell you to avoid the whole thing (due to all the tourists) or to go and see it. But maybe seeing the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is kind of the same thing as the Pyramids in Egypt or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. When you go there, you just have to visit this attraction.
The Little Mermaid has become a symbol for the city of Copenhagen as well as the whole of Denmark.
The Little Mermaid is located at the shore close to the cruise harbor Langelinie.
It is right next to the Old Citadel, The Gefion Fountain and the Resistance Museum. It is a few kilometres away from Nyhavn and Amalienborg Palace.
Carl Jacobsen, the founder of Carlsberg, attended Hans Beck’s and Fini Henriques’s ballet version of The Little Mermaid in 1909. He had been fascinated by the fairytale before, but after seeing the ballet, he was mezmerized.
Jacobsen asked sculptor Edvard Eriksen to create a sculpture in honour of the Little Mermaid tale. Eriksen used his own wife Eline Eriksen as a model when he created the head and torso for the statue.
Originally, he wanted to model the sculpture after the Danish prima ballerina Ellen Price, who in the end rejected the offer as she did not want to pose nude for the sculptor.
The bronze statues was first unveiled on the 23rd of August 1913.
Beheaded & not the real deal
Guess what? The statue at the Langelinie promenade is not the original one. The original statue is stored somewhere secret by Eriksen’s heirs. The one in the harbour is therefore actually a copy.
The Little Mermaid has been beheaded twice – in 1964 by an artist part of the Situationist movement and in 1998 by an anonymous person. In the latter occasion, the head was later returned to a local TV station with no information about who did it.
The Story Behind the Statue
Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid is a story about a young mermaid who saves a prince from drowning. A strong storm has surprised the prince and he would not have made it out alive without the help of the mermaid.
Naturally, they fall in love, but are separated. And as we all know, a mermaid can not survive on dry land for a long time. So she meets up with an evil sea witch and exchanges her voice for a pair of legs. The twist: she has 3 days to find the prince and receive a kiss from him. If she gets the kiss, she will turn into a human. If she fails, she will turn to sea foam.
She tries to win the prince over, but he only remembers her voice. The prince does not recognize the mermaid and in the end, she turns back to sea foam and he ends up marrying someone else. A sad story.
You have of course seen this story as a Disney movie!
So yes, please do go and see the statue – if you’re not afraid of seeing hundreds of tourists.
It is a symbol. An icon for Copenhagen.