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Einar's alter ego, Lili, became one of Gerdas favorite motives. Foto fra filmen ©Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Einar's alter ego, Lili, became one of Gerdas favorite motives. Foto fra filmen ©Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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See the Copenhagen of The Danish Girl

The old streets and beautiful buildings of Copenhagen play an important role in Oscar-winning film The Danish Girl, about artist couple Gerda and Einar Wegener. Discover the old Copenhagen you see in the movie – which can also play Paris at a pinch!

Tom Hooper’s star-studded drama is set in Copenhagen and Paris in the period 1910–1930s and was shot on location in some of the most charming areas of Denmark’s capital.

The film is about controversial Copenhagen artist couple Gerda and Einar Wegener, whose relationship takes on a new dimension as Einar’s female alter ego, Lili, takes shape.

Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe. Photo from the film ©Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

To begin with, Einar/Lili just poses as a model for Gerda, but gradually Lili becomes more than just a role for Einar. He identifies himself more as Lili than as Einar, and ends up becoming the first person in the world to undergo sex reassignment surgery. With Gerda’s full support. 

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander as Einar and Gerda deliver terrific performances (Vikander won an Oscar for hers) and Copenhagen provides an atmospheric backdrop to this unusual story.

Scandinavian Traveler has explored visitdenmark’s new route that follows the footsteps of the movie through old Copenhagen, and has seen both the city and the movie in a new light. Who would have thought that something as familiar as City Hall could appear as a hospital or that Frederiksstaden could stand in for Paris? Keep a close eye on the city in the movie, and check out the locations here:

Nyhavn

Gerda and Einar live in Nyhavn, which in the movie is transformed into the old fish market, and this is also where Einar goes out alone as Lili for the first time. Nyhavn is the oldest part of Copenhagen harbor and many of the houses were built in the 17th century. Nowadays home to restaurants and bars, they’ve seen everything over the years. Hans Christian Andersen was also to be seen around here for a while, when he lived at no. 20.

Nyhavn

Nyhavn, Copenhagen

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The Stock Exchange

The movie shows Gerda going past the distinctive dragon-tail spire of the Stock Exchange on the way to see an art critic, with a stack of sketches under her arm. The Stock Exchange was built by King Christian IV, who is also the man behind such Copenhagen classics as Rosenborg Castle and the Round Tower.

Børsen

Børsen, Copenhagen

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Magstræde/Snaregade

On the way home after a pleasant evening, Einar and Gerda walk arm-in-arm through the streets of Copenhagen. More specifically, they walk down Snaregade and Magstræde, two of Copenhagen’s oldest streets, which like the neighboring streets have preserved the cobblestones and old buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Soak up the atmosphere and take a break at one of the many cafés in the area.

Nyboder

Nyboder’s characteristic yellow rows are yet another creation of Christian IV, who had them built to house the navy’s sailors and their families. It’s in Nyboder that Einar, as Lili, seeks out Henrik, who has long been courting her.

Kunsthal Charlottenborg

Charlottenborg Castle (Kunsthal Charlottenborg) is where Einar first appears publicly as Lili at a ball. It’s also where he’s first courted by a man.

Kunsthal Charlottenborg

Kongens Nytorv 1, Copenhagen

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The Royal Danish Theater. Foto: Jens Lindhe

The Royal Danish Theater (The Old Stage)

One of Gerda Wegener’s favorite models was ballet dancer Ulla Poulsen and in the movie we see how both Einar and Gerda spend time behind the scenes at the Royal Danish Theater. It’s among the costumes here that together they find the clothes for Lili’s debut in society, and it’s also here where Einar returns alone, when he can no longer suppress the fact that his inner Lili is stronger than Einar.

The Royal Danish Theater

Kongens Nytorv 9, Copenhagen

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The Marble Church/Frederiksstaden

Gerda and Einar/Lili lived in Paris for a number of years and Frederiksstaden (the area around the Marble Church and Amalienborg Palace), which has a very Parisian appearance, had the honor of playing this city of cities in the movie. So if you think you can see the dome of the Marble Church outside Gerda and Lili’s apartment, you’re absolutely right.

The Marble Church

Frederiksgade 4, Copenhagen

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City Hall

City Hall Square is one of Copenhagen’s most iconic locations, although few people actually go into City Hall itself. They’re missing out, because entrance is free and the building and its interior are a study in the Skønvirke style typical of the period. In The Danish Girl, City Hall played the hospital where Lili has her sex reassignment surgery.

Rådhuset

Rådhuspladsen 1, Copenhagen

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The University Library

While Gerda and Einar are living in Paris, Einar seeks out a Parisian library to learn more about his condition. The reading room where he sits is in the University Library in Fiolstræde, which is in the extension to the old main buildings of Copenhagen University.

The University Library

Fiolstræde 1, Copenhagen

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