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.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, but images and video from social media showed flames on the structure’s roof and dark clouds of smoke lingering over the city.

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

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.

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.

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 works of art were carried from the burning building. Credit…Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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.”

Maya Tekeli contributed reporting.

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