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The history
Børsen's period of time
Børsen is one of the old buildings in

Copenhagen and like Rosenborg Slot and Rundetårn, it is one of the buildings of which we remember King Christian IV. The building is built in Dutch renaissance style but is characterized by the King's taste, like the garrets on the roof and the spire.

In 1618 Christian IV asked the engineer Johan Semb to construct a new part of town, Christianshavn, and a dam was made facing Amager on top of which, the first "Amagerbro" (today known as Knippelsbro) was built.

Christian IV had realized the importance of trade and business and decided to make Copenhagen the great trade centre and grand city of the future. However, you cannot have a grand city without an exchange and in 1618 the King asked Lorenz van Steenwinckel to start building Børsen, where the dam facing Christianshavn is connected with land on Slotsholmen. Just as the planning of Børsen begun, Lorenz van Steenwinckel died, and therefore his brother, Hans van Steenwinckel, took over the case. On December 10th 1619 Hans van Steenwinckel was nominated for prime contractor and responsible for having supervision with all the King's buildings. Lorenz and Hans van Steenwinckel were sons of the Belgium born prime contractor and stonecutter Hans van Steenwinckel. After his arrival in Denmark in 1578 he provided Christian IV with new spires for Helligåndskirken, Nikolaj Kirke and persumably Blåtårn on Københavns Slot.

Building Børsen
Building Børsen was not quite simple, because it was going to be built on top of the new dam facing Christianshavn. Because the dam had not yet settled, wharfs were built on both sides and poles were tamped in the dam. In 1620 the building itself began. The base of granite boulder, the walls and the roof construction were built from 1621-23 and the building was only completed in 1624. At that time Børsen looked far from the building today. The ends of the building and the garrets on the roof facing North were only built during 1623-1624, and in August 1625 the spire was placed. The end of the building facing East was only finished in 1640.

Since then the building changed looks many times until 1883, when it got its present look. This happened by getting the garrets built on the roof facing South during 1879-1883. The roof covering was also changed from lead, tin and tile to copper.

Børsen as a market place
In the late 16th twenties, Børsen was taken into use by renting out booths for merchants. From the street you could enter the ground floor and visit 40 booths. The whole of Børsen's first floor contained only one big room with rented booths in the centre and along the windows.

In order to formally confirm that Copenhagen now had an exchange and was on its way to become a trade center, King Christian IV had a Latin inscription made above the entrance doors at both ends of the building. The English version of this inscription is the following:

"Christian IV, the almighty King of Denmark and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, the fine father of the Fatherland, the fortunate administrator of the property of the Country, has followed in the footsteps of great kings before him and with tremendous eagerness to introduce wealthy trade centres to his countries, he has founded Børsen here before you - not for the secret ploys of Mercury and Laverna, but first and foremost in God's honour, and then for the profitable use of buyers and sellers."

Børsen and the King's debt
As you may know, King Christian IV conducted several wars and he was not always lucky. This meant he constantly needed money and therefore mortgaged many of his buildings. This was also the case with Børsen. During 1639-42 he personally rented out Børsen to merchants, but he was not able to administrate the many tenancies, and decided to rent out the entire Børsen to merchant Jacob Madsen, to whom he was indebted to. During the King's last years he had pawned everything he owned including Børsen. The King mortgaged the building to Jacob Madsen, and in 1647 he was forced to sell the building to him for 50.000 rix-dollars. After Jacob Madsen died, King Frederik III repurchased Børsen from the late Jacob Madsen's wife, because she could not afford to keep and maintain the building. This is the official explanation, but in reality the Royal family wanted the building back and they got it. Later on King Christian V had to mortgage Børsen, but this time it was in the custody of Søkvæsthuset during 1685-1775, and they were not proud at it.

Sale and protection
In 1857 King Frederik VII needed money and sold the building to the Merchants' Guild for 70.000 rix-dollars.

Quote from the deed (excerpt):

"...4. that the Merchants' Guild shall be under an obligation to maintain the present architectural exterior of Børsen, and that the Government through the Ministry of the Interior is entitled to execute the authority necessary in this connection to ensure, that no changes of the exterior of Børsen may be undertaken without a prior consent from the Government, and to ensure that the authority regarding first time plans for major changes as well as plans for future major changes of the interior,shall remain with the Government since such changes are likewise..."

With that Børsen was the first preserved building in Denmark.

The copper roof
King Christian IV had originally covered the roof with lead but during the Swedish occupation of Copenhagen during 1658-59, a lot of lead was removed to produce cannon balls. The holes in the roof were only partly covered with tin and tile. Not untill the end of the 19th century the roof was replaced with copper, like it is today.

The dragon spire
The landmark of Børsen is the dragon spire from 1625, which symbols four dragon tails twisted around each other. In 1775, the spire was in such poor condition that it might had fallen apart. It was pulled down and replaced with a new one, almost identical with the old spire. In connection with this, a suggestion was proposed, whether to replace the spire with a dome, but nothing came of it. The spire was said to guard the building against fire and enemies. Even today it its said to be true, because many times Børsen has "survived" fires from surrounding buildings. Christiansborg has burnt many times, once the neighbouring building Privatbanken burnt, and in the beginning of 1990, Proviantgaarden in Slotsholmsgade was on fire. Everytime the dragon tails guarded Børsen.

In 1787 a building towards Christiansborg Slotsplads was built and connected to Børsen. The building belonged to Courantbanken, which was the first bank in Denmark. The building was pulled down in 1879 to make way for Slotsholmsgade.

Børsen's flags are split
Børsen has split flags which is unusual for privately owned buildings.The split flag is normally only for the Royal family, the Government and authorities.Børsen has always had split flags because it once belonged to kings, and in 1995 the Chamber of Commerce got the licence to continue having split flags.

Børsen today
As already mentioned, the Merchants' Guild bought Børsen from Frederik VII in 1857, and it has not changed owner since. In 1987 the Merchants' Guild and the Provincial Chamber of Commerce merged into the Chamber of Commerce, the owner of Børsen today.

I 1999/2000 har Handelskammeret foranlediget en afstøbning og affotografering af bygningens sandstensfigurer, som er meget medtagne af både alder og forurening. Figurerne skal gennemgå en grundig renovering i løbet af de kommende år.

Year of building: 1619-1623
Prime contractors: Lorenz and Hans van Steenwinckel
Style of the building: Dutch Renaissance
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