Life Between Buildings 2

This square in the centre of the historic centre is on the land of a Fransciscan monastery founded in 1238 and closed in the late 16th century when the land was used for houses of various sizes. Most were rebuilt after the fire of 1728.

This is now one of the most picturesque old squares in the city but is a bit of a hidden gem tucked away on the north side of Strøget - The Walking Street - behind Heligaandskirken. It is a triangular space about 70 metres long and just 45 metres wide at the inner end and 20 metres wide at the east end where the narrow end of the square has the street called Niels Hemmingsens Gade runnng across.

Most of the entry points into the space are through alleys or secondary pedestrian spaces off the square such as Kejsergade and the space is covered with setts and is free of vehicles apart from access for deliveries.

Around the square are cafes and restaurants that have tables outside and there is surprisingly very little street furniture. This is a space for walking, for looking and for sitting outside to eat and drink. There is an oddly placed Pissoir - at least tucked away but across the small side space of Kejsergade.

There is a large stone water feature - Vandkunst - by the Danish sculptor Søren Geog Jensen with the date 1971.

The main feature of the square is a large Plane tree at the narrow end protected by old iron railings. Benches are set around the tree to look outwards … Jan Gehl observes that people prefer to sit with their backs against something - protected and so they can look outwards at activity n the space even if they are not taking part. There are other benches around the square but generally set back against the front of buildings and the other main street furniture is simple modern street lights.

When the square was first pedestrianised it was popular with students from the university nearby and some comments suggest it was sometimes too crowded for the size but is generally now quieter and is unusual in the city because there are no shops.


about 1900 with a market building in the centre


map by Christian Gedde showing the square in the middle of the 18th century