Gefion fountain at Kastellet

Posted by

One of the most beautiful fountains in Copenhagen is the Gefion Fountain which is found next to the Angelican church of Copenhagen and right next to the old citadel of northern Copenhagen called Kastellet.

The Angelican church of Copenhagen

The fountain was funded by the Carlsberg Foundation to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Carlsberg in 1897 – the statue was supposed to have a central location in Copenhagen possibly at the city hall square. But it ended up with this location at the northern edge of the old town right next to the water of the harbor and Øresund.

Gefion fountain with no water

It took a while to actually complete the statue and its basin so it wasn’t finished until 1908 more than ten years after the anniversary of Carlsberg but it was a pretty successful fountain and it stayed for many years with no trouble. Until it started leaking a lot of water and had to undergo major renovation starting in 1999 and lasting for 5 years. The water is once again flowing during the summer – unfortunately the summer starts late in Copenhagen and there was still no water in the fountain in the beginning of April.

The idea behind the fountain is an old legend. The goddess Gefion were making a deal with the legendary king of Sweden Gylfi. She could get all the land she could plough in one day. To get a large chunk of land she turned to magic turning her four sons into four oxen and started ploughing. She worked hard all through the day and by nightfall she had plough a huge area which she got. The area is now the main Danish island of Zealand which she put behind the Danish island of Fyn and the Danish region of Skåne in what is now southern Sweden.

The island of Zealand left a huge hole in Sweden which according to old legend is the Swedish lake of Mälaren. The size of shape of Zealand fits better with biggest lake in Sweden called Vänern – but the oldest written record of the story speaks about Mälaren as the area Gefion managed to plough out Sweden.

Gefion behind the sons holding the plough

After Gefion did her amazing feat of ploughing such a huge area in such a short time she ended up marring the legendary Danish king Skjold who according to legend is the first of the Danish kings who got the name Skjoldungerne – or the kids of Skjold. They had their residence at the ancient village of Lejre which is located on Zealand so they settled at the area Gefion brought to the marriage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.