The Little Mermaid – Copenhagen, Denmark - Atlas Obscura
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Copenhagen, Denmark

The Little Mermaid

The de facto symbol of Copenhagen is this bronze fairytale which cannot seem to keep its head for very long. 

Installed in 1913, The Little Mermaid basks leisurely atop its water-locked rock as the symbol of the city of Copenhagen, but such notoriety has led to the figures head being removed a number of times in protest. 

Inspired by a ballet performance of the classic folktale, the piece was originally commissioned by the son of a local beer magnate and now the small mermaid figure has been gracing the waters off of Copenhagen for over a century. The lounging figure stares wistfully into the distance, forever frozen in a look of sadness, however this may be caused by the constant threat of decapitation the mermaid has faced since her inception.

As the piece became a popular tourist attraction it soon became an unofficial mascot for the entire city. With this attention came a number of protests and random acts of vandalism to befall the statue. The mermaid’s head was first stolen in 1964 by political dissidents and never recovered. However a new head was grafted onto the body, but then the statue’s arm was taken off in 1984 and later recovered, but then another decapitation attempt in 1990 left a wide gash in the figure’s neck. In 1998 the head was once again stolen, and once again recovered and finally in 2003 the entire statue was blown off its rock with explosives. This little mermaid simply can’t catch a break.

Today the statue has been restored and still draws countless admirers each year. Yet it seems like only a matter of time before the mythical maid is imperiled once again.