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
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 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
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
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
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
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.