A little area at the edge of Frederiksstaden area in old town Copenhagen is called Nyboder. The development of this area was started by Christian IV who started building this area after he had expanded the walls of the city north to double the size of Copenhagen.
Christian IV wanted to have the most powerful navy of northern Europe and to do this he needed a place for the crew of the naval ships to stay with their families when they were in the main naval base in Copenhagen – the officers already had houses inside the walls of the city. To get them housing in the old overcrowded town were impossible but when the city was suddenly expanded significantly there were space to create a fairly large area of yellow row houses for the naval sailors. The building project was quite ambitious and the fortifications of Copenhagen hadn’t been expanded up here by the time the building of the houses started – but it had started and the construction of the citadel Kastellet just north of Nyboder had begun.
The construction of Nyboder started in 1631 and was completed in 1641. The fortification of Copenhagen finally expanded up here by 1647 ensuring the houses were inside the fortified walls of the city giving them some protection in case of trouble.
The original housing district didn’t have a long life – in 1658 a gunpowder magazine nearby exploded causing a lot of damage of the area killing many people and destroying several houses.
In 1695 the city was getting overcrowded again despite of the significant increase of the city in the century before which had tripled the area of Copenhagen in a short period. It was considered to move some of the naval personal to the island of Møn which today is about two hours’ drive from Copenhagen – and back then must have taken several days to reach over land. The idea was abandoned and the navy was kept in Copenhagen for now.
To accommodate the increasing number of sailors the area of Nyboder was increased in size and the original houses got an extra storey to accommodate more sailors with their family – hence most of the houses date back to this expansion period of the second half of the 18th century. The area didn’t survive for long and in the middle of the 19th century half of the area was sold off and demolished.
Today it is nice to go and see the old yellow houses on a walk around Copenhagen. The area isn’t very touristy and often there will be no tourist here since most people will walk along the harbor instead of walking along Store Kongensgade from Kastellet.
As you walk pass Nyboder you will see a small statue which commemorates the Danish navy victory at the Battle of Helgoland against the Prussian Navy in the spring of 1864 giving Denmark pretty much the only victory during the disastrous second Schleswig War.