This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
When the Royal Danish Navy needed housing for its rapidly growing ranks, King Christian IV built Nyboder, a district of row homes in Copenhagen. While Naval officers already had housing, Nyboder hosted sailors and private personnel. Located at 24 Sankt Pauls Gade, Nyboder Mindestuer – seen here – is one of the neighborhood’s oldest houses and is home to its Memorial Rooms.
During Christian’s first two decades on the throne, Denmark’s military prospered with the Navy alone grew from twenty-two to sixty vessels. By 1625, Denmark was entrenched in the Thirty Years’ War, a major conflict that implicated much of Central Europe. With his vast Navy, Christian felt the demand for proper housing and in 1631, began construction on Nyboder.
After ten years, the new military housing development was complete. Designed by Royal Master Builder Hans van Steenwinckel the Younger, Nyboder included a private hospital, private schools, and its own police force. Enlisted men and their families could stay at Nyboder in exchange for 20 years of military service.
By the late 17th century, the Navy considered moving their personnel to the Danish island of Møn to accommodate for the lack of space in Copenhagen. Instead, the Navy launched an expansion at Nyboder that lasted 40 years. By 1757, an additional 24 two-storey houses, a guard house, and five officer houses were added. However, its steady growth would later come to a halt when half of Nyboder was demolished in 1878.
Now Nyboder is known as much for its military roots as its appearance. The exterior’s distinct hue is known as “Nyboder yellow” — even though the original structures were painted in red and white. Nearly 400 years later, Nyboder is still home to enlisted members of the Danish Navy, Army, and Air Force. Since 2006, the neighborhood has also welcomed civilians.
Written By: Kelly Murray
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