The Church of Our Saviour is one of the top tourist destinations in Copenhagen. The view from the top of the serpentine spire is said by many to be the “Best view in the city” and after my visit, I can confidently agree.
My friends, Kristen and Ann, and I made our visit to the Church yesterday for its Spring opening day (read: it was free admission for the grand opening). We waited in a long line eating our Lagkagehuset pastries until we checked in. Then, we began our 400 step hike to the top of the spire. The slow journey up was a view in itself. The stairs were steep and creaky and the trek seemed to go on forever. Each turn led to another wooden crevice hidden deep within the church. One flight up, we discovered an old organ, metal and rusted but preserved within a casing of glass. The next flight led us to a giant silver bell. I wondered to myself the last time it rang over the town. We climbed up a ladder and followed the people ahead of us. It brought me back to my childhood days playing in the wooden castle playground in my hometown. I felt like I was a little kid crawling through secret passageways and discovering fun, new hideouts. I pushed open a heavy door and light flooded toward me. Stepping into the light, I audibly expressed my surprise.
The city unfolded before me. The entire city of Copenhagen seemed to have shrunken down and spanned out like a toy town or like the backdrop of a travel commercial. “Go visit Denmark” the banner of words would read in the corner of the television screen. Standing on the outside of spindle tower, the air felt crisp and my ears longed for a hat to protect them from the wind. My calves felt tense from the stairs and my hands felt icy against the yellow-painted railing. But I ignore these complaints. The cold, the tight corners and the winding stairs were part of the adventure. The upward battle became worth it the moment the view came into focus.
I glanced back at my adventure buddies, Kristen and Ann, in excitement. I could tell by their awed expressions that they were just as amazed as I was.
We gripped onto the railing and continued our ascent. The path became narrower and, as the rusted stairs creaked under my feet, I had the crazy thought of, “Hmm.. this has been closed all winter … are we the first group of people to test it out?” But don’t worry, we reached the top without falling off the side of the spire.
After a brief photoshoot (see pictures below), we all stood and took in the beauty of our new home. It was absolutely incredible. The sun glowed over the town, showering it with gold. The city looked how autumn feels with crisp orange and white buildings. I could not have imagined how the moment would get more awe-striking until the clock tower rang in the distance.
The bells are one of the things I love the most about this city. They bring to mind my Grandma Phyllis. This past week would have been my grandmother’s birthday and so I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about her pastel house, her sneaky smile, the way she always called me “Kailey, Love” and how her entire house chimed every 15 minutes. At the time, I thought it was eery the way that every clock rang at the same moment. Now, I miss those clock bells. One chimed Beatles songs, another the deep hum of a grandfather clock, another a simple bell. In Copenhagen, if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the bell tower chime on the hour, ringing out loud and clear over the town. As I stood at the top of the Church of Our Saviour taking in the travel commercial view, the bell went off and I just kept thinking of my grandma. The moment couldn’t get more perfect.
After the bells stopped, it was time to begin our descent. My euphoria from the bells and the view was quickly broken as I pushed through the tide of tourists and trekked down the creaky, oxidized metal stairs. A man who looked remarkably like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones) clung to the side of the building near the entrance. He was holding on for dear life and I just keep thinking “Is it him? I know the actor is Danish but this guy looks too afraid to be the Kingslayer.” My friends and I snapped a few more pictures and then we were off.
If you’re coming to Denmark, go to the Church of Our Saviour. I would not recommend climbing 400 steps in any scenario if it wasn’t worth it. I guarantee you’ll be a little out of breath, your calves aching, your patience failing and your mind drifting to all the ways you could accidentally slip and fall off the edge. Maybe you’ll be like Jaime Lannister and scared out of your wits. But the view at the top? Worth every step.