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Vesterbro, from Danish "western bridge", is a special area of contemporary Copenhagen, located, as prompted by its name, in the western part of the Danish capital. Just recently it was considered one of the roughest districts in the city. There were lots of prostitutes, drug dealers, a lot of various youth subcultural groups lived there.

57 000 people permanently reside in this area of Copenhagen, according to the statistics as of the end of 2011. Today the area is considered safe, but it is rarely mentioned in guide-books.

Video about Vesterbro district:

Vesterbro is one of the central districts in Copenhagen. It starts from the City hall square and extends to the west of the centre. Four hundred years ago, here, behind the city wall, there was a small town with the same name on the road to Roskilde. At that time, due to the threat of epidemics, there was a prohibition to kill animals in the city. What could butchers do? So they moved to the suburb - Vesterbro. 

Inn owners and beer brewers started their activities immediately, making money on the butchers and peasants bringing their goods to the city, who, due to their poverty, preferred to stay outside the city for the night, in dirty and poor suburban shelters. Thus, the image of the central street in Vesterbro in those days was much more prosaic than today. However, the suburb grew and boomed economically.

Just behind the railway station there is a place called "Meatpacking town" (Kødbyen), because there used to be meat processing works. Today this is the area of popular night clubs, "creative offices" of the hundreds of start-up companies, art galleries and fancy restaurants.

In one of the lanes of Vesterbro you can see the New Theatre, firstly opened in 1908 and closed by the early 1990s as the building was dilapidated and abandoned. In 1994 it was reopened with fanfare, in the renovated and redecorated building. The theatre premises are a nice illustration to the history of Vesterbro, at least in the 20th century. More information about the New Theatre you can find here.

Near the New Theatre there is Elijah the Prophet church built in 1850 along with the central Vesterbro square, as well as the Copenhagen city museum devoted to the city history. Going away from the central railway station from Halmtorvet, you can walk down Sønder boulevard. Once poor and rough area, it was subject to one of the most successful modernization and upgrading projects in the history of urban planning. Today this spacious green centre of this district, especially in good weather, is a favourite meeting point for the locals and other Copenhagen citizens.

In the 19th century along with numerous tenement buildings, there appeared a variety of amusement facilities and spots, which made Vesterbro notorious. Owing to the great number of prostitutes, drug addicts and loitering individuals, this area was not popular with the locals. Therefore, people living here were mainly the poor and students, because it was the only district in the city they could afford. Anyway, as mentioned above, renovation of buildings, promotion of the district by the city authorities to improve the perception of Vesterbro in the minds of the local citizens, regular police raids, and the fact that the young more and more often opt for this area to live in, the image of the area is changing for the better.

Nevertheless, even today, if you turn away from the central street Vesterbrogade, you can see sex shops, tattoo studios, suspiciously looking cafés, guarded by street beggars. Just like it was 100 years ago, Istergade Street is full of prostitutes in the evening, and near Maria’s Church (Dan. Mariakirken) one can spot drug dealers, addicts and other suspiciously looking and behaving individuals. However, their number has decreased dramatically, and at day Vesterbro looks decent and even nice.

In 1853, when the old fortifications of the city centre were dismounted (the so-called inner city), Vesterbro turned from a suburb into a full-sized district of Copenhagen with quite respectful housing and offices. Today the proximity of this area to the central railway station attracts respectful dwellers and guests. The district looks comfortable and neat. There are many restaurants, cafés, fashion boutiques, fitness centres and other signs of wealth and welfare. 

On the western fringe of the area you can find Søndermarken park. Its symmetrical central paths remind of the baroque style, in which the park was created by the order of king Frederik IV (1699-1730). Further to the north, you will reach Frederiksberg palace and the park with the same name. Currently the palace is occupied by the military academy. Here, between the two parks, you can also see Copenhagen Zoo (Dan. København ZOO), opened in 1859, whose entrance is decorated with an observatory tower. To the southeast from Søndermarken park, the old Carlsberg brewery premises are located.

Other photos of Vesterbro district:

Back to the article "Districts of Copenhagen"

Copenhagen is a very diverse city, with rich history and unusual architecture. What is the history of Copenhagen districts? And who are its citizens? We will discuss it here.

1. A small and old area Christianshavn with narrow streets and pretty houses is the most beautiful part of Copenhagen, the place where the current population is about 10 000 (as of the end of 2006). The area of Christianshavn was founded by king Christian IV in 1619 as a fortress, which is clearly confirmed by 12 bastions...Read more

Our Savior's Church

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2. Frederiksberg is a town in the Danish capital region, the fifth largest town in Denmark after Copenhagen, Arhus, Odense and Aalborg, as of mid-2013 the population of Frederiksberg was 102029. The history of Frederiksberg started 2 June 1651, when the king of Denmark and Norway Frederik III granted the title to a few dozens of Danish – Dutch families to...Read more

Frederiksberg district

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3. Islands Brygge, also known as Bryggen, one of the central districts of Copenhagen, located on the north coast of the island of Amager. In the 2000s this district was actively built up and over the past years it has become popular with wealthy people. In the northern part there are mainly...Read more

Islands Brygge quay

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4. Nørrebro is a residential area to the north of the centre of Copenhagen. Its population is 75 714 people and it is the busiest district of the Danish capital. The district of Nørrebro gained its contemporary look, when the dikes around Copenhagen were destroyed in 1850. Since then the area has been developing...Read more

Superkilen project, Nørrebro district

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5. Ørestad is the district of new housing development and ultramodern architecture, the place which was uncharted on the city maps just 16 years ago. However, today 8.500 people, according to the data of the mid-2013, opted for this area as their permanent residence. The area of Ørestad is conveniently located; a trip on a local train to Kastrup international airport takes 6 minutes...Read more

Ørestad district

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6. Østerbro is the most prestigious district of Copenhagen. Nearly 71 000 people, as of 2011, selected this district as their residence in the Danish capital. This is mainly the residential area of the Danish intelligentsia, with wonderful parks where people can relax lying on the lawns. For those who love active lifestyle there is a nice opportunity to do water sports here...Read more

Østerbro district

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7. Vesterbro, is a specific area of modern Copenhagen, as described by its name, located in the western part of the Danish capital. Just recently this area was considered one of the roughest parts of the city. It was notorious by its prostitutes, drug trafficking, different subculture groups....Read more

Vesterbro district

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