Monday, July 07, 2008

Built to honour God - Copenhagen Stock Exchange

Christian IV became king in 1588, only 11 years old and ruled Denmark and Norway for 60 years. He was an energetic king, enjoying the good life with women, good food and drink. Besides the earthly pleasures he left important architectural monuments to posterity. As he built his Country Residence outside Copenhagen, he worked on other buildings in the city centre as well.

As builders were completing Rosenborg castle after Hans van Steenwinckels design, he was working to make Copenhagen into an important commercial centre. He ordered the design from Lorentz van Steenwinckel, the brother of Hans.

They were sons of the Belgian born Hans van Steenwinckel that had arrived in Denmark in 1578 and had been in charge of important building works in the Danish capital. He built the towers on Helligaandskirken, Nicolajkirken, and Blåtårn on Copenhagen Castle.

Lorentz van Steenwinckel died before the building started, and it was his brother that was in charge of the construction of the Exchange. It is a magnificent building. One very interesting detail is its central tower, with a pointed spire formed by four dragons twisting their tails into a spiral.

Here you see a commemorative plaque that has the following text

”Christian IV, den almægtige konge af Danmark og Norge, de Venders og Gothers, Fædrelandets udmærkede fader, den lykkelige forvalter af statens ejendom har følgende store kongers berømmelige eksempel og i alvorlig iver for at forøge sine lande med rige handelssteder – grundlagt den danske børs, som her du ser – ikke til Merkurs og Lavernas hemmelige kunster, men først og fremmest til Guds ære, dernæst til indbringende brug for køber og sælger.”

And here is an unauthorized translation:

Christian IV, King Almighty of Denmark and Norway, (and) the Wends and Goths, the excellent father of the Fatherland, the happy steward of state property has the following powerful kings example and in serious eagerness to increase his countries with wealthy points of trade - founded the Danish exchange, as seen here – not to the secret arts of Mercurius or Laverna, but first and foremost to honour God, thereafter for profitable use for buyer and vendor.”

Today Copenhagen may be proud to have the oldest exchange in Europe as it started its business already in 1629. If you want to admire this magnificent sigh, it is located by Christiansborg Castle, home of Folketinget, the Danish Parliament in the centre of the Danish capital and its spire is visible from all over the city.

No comments: