Astronomy buffs, those who like to gaze at celestial bodies or even those who just want to take in panoramic views of Copenhagen know where the best place is to do these things: the Rundetaarn or the “Round Tower.” This 17th century cylindrical tower is one of the most popular and impressive sights in the capital city of Denmark. It was designed by architect Hans van Steenwickel by orders from Christian IV as part of the Trinitatis Complex – a church, library and an observatory all together in a single building.
To date, the Rundetaarn is Europe’s oldest astronomy observatory that is still being used for the purpose. Aside from towering over most of the buildings in the area, the Rundetaarn is most noted for its 210meter-long white-washed spiral ramp that winds around the hollow core of the tower 7.5 times. This winding ramp is also the only connection from the tower to the other parts of the building such as the Library Hall and the Ringer’s Loft. It is said that the design was intended to allow a wide transportation device such as a horse and a carriage to move objects such as heavy loads of books and sensitive observatory instruments.
Inside the building is also Denmark’s first big university library which used to hold over 10,000 books. Today, it serves as an art gallery and a venue for musical performances. Another feature of the Rundetaarn is the observation deck at the top of the building which affords visitors magnificent views of the older parts of the city along with many of its famous buildings. And in the spring, the Rundetaarn is the venue for the annual Unicycle Race.