Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building Partly Collapses in Fire


The old stock exchange building in downtown Copenhagen — one of the city’s oldest structures, known for its elaborate spire of intertwined dragon tails — partly collapsed in a large fire early Tuesday.

No one was injured, according to a statement from King Frederik X. Images and video from social media showed flames on the structure’s roof and dark clouds of smoke lingering over the city.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire in the structure, which appeared to be undergoing renovations. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the blaze was still burning with “pockets of fire” in the building, an official with the Copenhagen fire department said.

The king said that the building’s famed spire had helped define Copenhagen as a “city of towers.”

“Until today, we have regarded the historic building as a beautiful symbol of our capital and a building that we, as a nation, have been proud of,” he said.

The authorities responded to the fire just after 7:30 a.m., officials said in a news conference on Tuesday. Around 200 people have been involved in fighting the fire.

“It’s still difficult to work in large parts of the building,” said Jakob Vedsted Andersen, the executive director of the Greater Copenhagen Fire Department. “The entire structure has collapsed inside, so there are pockets of fire. However, there’s no danger of the fire spreading to other buildings.”

It will take days for the authorities to piece together what caused one of Denmark’s most prized buildings to go up in flames.

Jakob Engel-Schmidt, Denmark’s culture minister, said in an interview early Tuesday that it was “dreadful” to see the building in flames. “The building represents over 400 years of Danish history,” he said, using “Borsen,” the Danish name for the building. “It’s one of the last structures in the world in Dutch Renaissance style, where trade has been conducted throughout the entire period.”

Amid the chaos, the police in Copenhagen said on social media that they had evacuated several surrounding buildings, and urged people to avoid the area.

The old stock exchange building, a 17th-century structure that was once the financial center of Denmark, also housed several historical paintings and other artifacts. City officials rushed the valued pieces out of the building after the fire broke out. At the time of the fire, the building was occupied by Dansk Erhverv, a business organization.

One of the larger works carried to safety was Peder Severin Kroyer’s “From Copenhagen Stock Exchange,” according to a local news outlet. The work, which was painted in 1895 and depicts several key Danish financial figures, is more than 13 feet long. It took six people to remove it to safety.

Denmark’s National Museum said on social media that it had sent dozens of workers to the building to remove cultural objects and assess the damage of others before safely stowing them away.

Mr. Engel-Schmidt said the old stock exchange’s artworks “tell us something about ourselves as a nation and as a people.” He added that the building had been the backdrop of countless historical events, and that it was ingrained in the Danish psyche.

“That’s why there are people standing in the streets, looking incredibly sad,” he said. “It affects me, too.”

Several other officials lamented the fire, including Jan Jorgensen, a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, who called for the old stock exchange to be rebuilt. “Probably the most iconic building in Copenhagen,” he said on social media. “All forces must be united to have this old, beautiful house rebuilt in all its power and splendor.”

The building was constructed at the direction of King Christian IV, who had recognized the importance of trade and commerce, according to the Visit Copenhagen tourism website. The original structure contained at least 40 market stalls and was surrounded by water on three sides to help ships easily unload their cargo.

As fire crews fought the flames on Tuesday, dozens of onlookers quietly stood on the street, watching in shock, including Celeste Bolvinkil Andersen, who said she had woken up when she heard her roommate shouting about the fire.

“It feels a bit like becoming a firsthand witness to history,” she said. “I can’t help but sit here deeply, deeply disappointed in myself, for not having gone inside and seen the Borsen from the inside. And now it’s completely gone.”


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