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The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) (Statue)

The bronze statue of The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is Denmark's most visited tourist attraction. Over one million people visit her each year. The statue sits on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour at Langelinie (near the Kastellet). Langelinie is the longest embankment in the city. It is only a 10 minute walk from the cruise ship pier or from the METRO stop - Osterport (Østerport).

The size of statue is relatively small. Visitors to the statue are often surprised to find that the statue is only 1.25 m, (4.1 ft) high, and weighs around 175 kg (385 lbs). The Little Mermaid may be small and unimposing in stature, but that does not take away from the iconic status the statue has attained for Copenhagers and Danes alike. The statue has all importance for Denmark as Statue of Liberty has for the USA. Any visit to Copenhagen deserves a visit to see this world famous statue.

From May 1, 2010 - October 31, 2010 The Little Mermaid will be moved to Shanghai, China as part of the Expo 2010. The statue will be the featured attraction at the Danish Pavillion. This statue's future departure has come as a surprise to many Danes who are a disconcerted that such a prized Danish artifact is leaving the country for a time. In fact some Danes are quite upset about the matter.

History

The fairy tale story of The Little Mermaid is very well know around the world. Hans Christian Andersen or simply H. C. Andersen first published the story in 1837. The fairy tale has been translated into over 150 languages, adapted into an animated film by the the Walt Disney Company. It has also been adapted into multiple stage versions stage and ballet versions over the years.

It was during one such ballet performance in 1909 at Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre that Carl Jacobsen, son of the founder of Carlsberg, became fascinated by the fairy tale. Carl Jacobsen asked the sculptor Edvard Eriksen to creat a statue of The Little Mermaid. Ellen Price the primaballerina who performed in the ballet was asked to model for the statue. She agreed, but would not agree to model nude. Edvard decided to use Ellen Price's head, and his wife's body (Eline Eriksen) as models for the statue.

The statue was unveiled on August 23, 1913 at it's current location in Copenhagen Harbour.

Vandalism of the Statue

The statue has been damaged and defaced many times, and for many reasons throughout her history. Most recently in 2007, when she was found draped in a Muslim dress and a head scarf as a protest against the amount of Muslims who are immigrating to Denmark. Copenhagen city council is considering moving the statue further out in the harbour to protect The Little Mermaid.

Some of the Incidents of Vandalism

  • Red paint has been thrown on the statue multiple times, including once in 1961 when her hair was painted red and a bra was painted on her.
  • April 24, 1964 - The statue's head was sawn off and stolen by politically motivated members of the Situationist movement, amongst them Jørgen Nash. The head was never recovered and a reproduction was placed on the statue.
  • July 22, 1984 - This time her right arm was sawn off. The arm was returned 2 days later by two young vandals who blamed an overindulgence in alcohol as their primary motivation.
  • 1990 - Another attempt was made to cut off her head. This resulted in an 18 cm deep cut in the neck which was then repaired.
  • January 6, 1998 - This time she lost her head for the second time. The vandals were never found, however the head was returned anonymously to a nearby TV station. The head was reattached about a month later.
  • September 11, 2003 - This time she was blasted off the rock on which she sits, possibly with dynamite. This was believed to be a protest against Denmark's involvement in the was in Iraq. However, the vandals were never captured.
  • In 2004, the statue was draped in a burka as a statement against Turkey joining the European Union.
  • March 8, 2006 - This time a sex toy was attached to the statue's hand, green paint was dumped all over the statue, and the words 'March 8' were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism has something to do with International Women's Day (which is on March 8).
  • March 3, 2007 - The statue was covered with pink paint.
  • May 2007 - The statue was once again covered with paint.
  • May 20, 2007 - The statue was found draped in a Muslim dress and head scarf. This was believed to be a protest against the amount of Muslims who are immigrating to Denmark.