Holmen, Copenhagen
Holmen is an area in central
Indre By
Indre By , also known as Copenhagen Center or K or Downtown Copenhagen or City, is one of the 15 administrative, statistical, and tax city districts comprising the municipality of Copenhagen, Denmark...

Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. In spite of its name, deceptively in singular
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

, Holmen is a congregation of small islands, forming a north-eastern extension of Christianshavn
Christianshavn is an artificial island neighbourhood located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in the early 17th century by Christian IV as part of his extension of the fortifications of Copenhagen. Originally it was laid out as an independent privileged merchant's town with inspiration from...

  between Zealand and the northern tip of Amager
Amager is a Danish island in the Øresund. The Danish capital, Copenhagen, is partly situated on Amager, which is connected to the much larger island of Zealand by five bridges.-History:...


Holmen was created by a series of land reclamation
Land reclamation
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...

s to house the Holmen naval base
Holmen naval base
Naval Station Holmen is one of several naval stations of the Royal Danish Navy, supplementing the two Danish naval bases in Frederikshavn and Korsør....

 after it was moved from Gammelholm
Gammelholm is a predominantly residential neighbourhood in the city centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is bounded by the Nyhavn canal, Kongens Nytorv, Holmens Kanal, Niels Juels Gade and the waterfront along Havnegade...

 and used to occupy the entire area, but activities have gradually been moved elsewhere. Since the early 1990s, the area has instead been redeveloped for other use as a new district of the city, while the remaining naval facilities are confined to the northernmost islet of Nyholm. The area is today characterized by a mixture of residential developments, creative businesses
Creative class
The Creative Class is a socioeconomic class that economist and social scientist Richard Florida, a professor and head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, identifies as a key driving force for economic development of post-industrial...

 and educational institutions and remaining military activities.

Though technically a part of the central Indre By
Indre By
Indre By , also known as Copenhagen Center or K or Downtown Copenhagen or City, is one of the 15 administrative, statistical, and tax city districts comprising the municipality of Copenhagen, Denmark...

 district of Copenhagen, being a cul-de-sac
A cul-de-sac is a word of French origin referring to a dead end, close, no through road or court meaning dead-end street with only one inlet/outlet...

 as districts go, the area has a somewhat quiet and "remote" reputation and feel to it.

Creation of Nyholm

The existence of Holmen originates in a wish to relocate the Danish Fleet from its earlier home at Bremerholm. Since the city was growing rapidly, it was no longer practical to have the fleet stationed in the center of the city. Being built out of timber, the vessels constituted a major hazard. Furthermore, the sailors disposed of their garbage by throwing it directly into the harbor, which had developed into a sanitary hazard as well.

In 1680, a plan was conceived to move the fleet out of the city. Responsibility for the plan was given to Admiral Niels Juel
Niels Juel
Niels Juel was a Dano–Norwegian admiral. He was the brother of the diplomat Jens Juel.-Biography:Niels Juel was born the son of Erik Juel and Sophie Clausdatter Sehested, both were descendant of Danish nobility, who lived in Jutland where the father had a career as a local functionary and judge...


From 1682-92 Christianshavns Vold was extended northwards to protect the area which had been chosen for the fleet. The extension had seven bastions, named for members of the Royal Family. In Carls and Wilhems Bastion, black powder depots were constructed. Built in 1688 and 1690, they are the oldest structures at Holmen. The northernmost bastion was Charlotte Amalies Bastion, and north of this two cannon batteries were established, "Batteriet Quintus" and "Batteriet Neptunus". The latter's name came from the sunken ship which was the foundation for the battery. This battery was later renamed to "Christiani Sixti Batteri", or "Christian VI's Battery". Today it is known as "Batteriet Sixtus" or just "Sixtus". The sinking of ships continued, loaded with mud from the harbor and trash from Copenhagen's streets. In certain streets, there could be more than one metre of trash, so there was plenty to take. This efforts gradually formed an island, which was given the name Nyholm.

It was to this island that the naval shipyard was relocated. The first ship which was set to sea from this shipyard was the first Dannebrog in 1692. Afterwards, the construction of all large ships were moved to Nyholm, and at Bremerholm, now called Gammelholm
Gammelholm is a predominantly residential neighbourhood in the city centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. It is bounded by the Nyhavn canal, Kongens Nytorv, Holmens Kanal, Niels Juels Gade and the waterfront along Havnegade...

, only smaller vessels were built.

After 1692, several ships were built on Nyholm and in 1750, for the first time a Danish king, Frederik V
Frederick V of Denmark
Frederick V was king of Denmark and Norway from 1746, son of Christian VI of Denmark and Sophia Magdalen of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.-Early life:...

, was wearing a naval uniform in connection with the naming of a new ship. In 1807, the English destroyed three ships at the shipyard, but ship construction continued at Nyholm until 1918, after which ship construction and several other operations were moved to Frederiksholm, which was to the south. The shipyard was separated from the Navy and became a civilian operation with its own director.

Creation of Arsenaløen

While development on Nyholm continued, a little island called Motzmanns Plads, just north of Christianshavn, was bought. Later it was renamed Christiansholm
Christiansholm is a municipality in the district of Rendsburg-Eckernförde, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany....

. A new island was created by new reclamations, just east of Christianholm. Here a large arsenal
An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those...

 was completed in 1770, giving rise to the island's name. Later the island was extended eastwards until reaching its current size in the middle of the 19th century. In 1860 Arsenaløen formed a land connection to Christianshavn, which became the main entrance to Holmen, known as Værftsbrovagten (English: The Yard Bridge Hard). Until then access to Holmen had been by ferry to Christiansholm, from where a bridge connected to Arsenaløen where to Holmen was entered through the King's Gate.

Creation of Frederiksholm

Around 1750, further reclamations created two small islands south of Nyholm, Balastøen (English: The Ballast Island) and Ankerøen (English: The Anchor Island), along with a larger island, Langøen (English: The Long Island). Bridges were built from Nyholm to Ballastøen, from Ballastøen to Ankerøen and from Ankerøen to Langøen. From Langøen's southern tip, a bridge was built to Arsenaløen. This happened towards the end of the 18th century. At this point, all of Holmen's islands were connected. East from Langøen, an atoll was found called "Mudderøen (English: The Mud Island). This area was reclamed and annexed to Langeø, which at this stage was renamed Frederiksholm. In 1789 Frederiksholm had reached its current size.

The original intention was to use the new area for barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 for Navy personnel, but this plan was abandoned. Instead, a number of other buildings were built on the island, including storages for ship masts. After the Gunboat War
Gunboat War
The Gunboat War was the naval conflict between Denmark–Norway and the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The war's name is derived from the Danish tactic of employing small gunboats against the conventional Royal Navy...

, a row of boathouse
A boathouse is a building especially designed for the storage of boats, normally smaller craft for sports or leisure use. These are typically located on open water, such as on a river. Often the boats stored are rowing boats...

s were made for the storage of gunboat
A gunboat is a naval watercraft designed for the express purpose of carrying one or more guns to bombard coastal targets, as opposed to those military craft designed for naval warfare, or for ferrying troops or supplies.-History:...


When Gammelholm was finally decommissioned by the Navy in 1869, most activities were moved to Frederiksholm, and in 1918 the shipyard at Nyholm was moved to Frederiksholm and the adjoining Dokøen.

Creation of Dokøen

Land reclamations west of Langeø (Frederiksholm) and north of Christianshom led to the establishment of two new islands for the storage of anchors and ships ballast after the first Anchor and Ballast Islands had been become part of Nyholm. By further reclamations they grew together and in 1858 a large drydock was constructed at the island as a replacement for Gammel Dok at Christianshavn. After this, the island became known as Dokøen (English: The Dock Island). In 1925 the island was annexed to Frederiksholm, but kept its own name.

Closure of the naval base and redevelopment

From 1690 to 1993 Holmen was the main base of the Royal Danish Navy
Royal Danish Navy
The Royal Danish Navy is the sea-based branch of the Danish Defence force. The RDN is mainly responsible for maritime defence and maintaining the sovereignty of Danish, Greenlandic and Faroese territorial waters...

. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, two new bases was established in Korsør
Korsør is a Danish town and port. It is out on the Great Belt, on the Zealand side, just south of where the Great Belt Bridge lands. It was the site of the municipal council of Korsør municipality - today it is part of Slagelse municipality...

 and Frederikshavn
This article is about a Danish town. For the German town, see Friedrichshafen, and for the Finnish town, see Fredrikshamn .Frederikshavn is a Danish town in Frederikshavn municipality, Region Nordjylland on the northeast coast of the Jutland peninsula in northern Denmark. Its name translates to...

 but even though more and more activities were relocated there, Holmen retained its status. In 1881 the naval ship yard closed. On 1 May 1993, the Holmen Naval Base was closed.


Frederiksholm is the area which has seen most new construction since Holmen naval base was closed and the area released for redevelopment. Many new buildings have been built while old building from the areas naval past have been concerted for new uses. This is the case for the Centre for Creative Educations, which has been established on Frederiksholm. It encompasses the Architecture School, the Rhythmic Music Conservatory
Rhythmic Music Conservatory
The Rhythmic Music Conservatory is a music conservatoire in Copenhagen, Denmark. The RMC was founded in 1986 as an independent institution of higher education under the Danish Ministry of Culture and is the only school in Denmark specializing in contemporary music training programmes.In 2005, it...

, the Danish Film School
National Film School of Denmark
TheNational Film School of Denmark is an independent institution under the Danish Ministry of Cultural Affairs. It was established in 1966 and is based on Holmen in the harbour of Copenhagen.-History:...

 and the Theatre & Contemporary Dance School
Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance
The Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance is an acting and performance school in Copenhagen, Denmark.The institution is divided into two autonomous units, the Danish National School of Theatre and the Danish National School of Contemporary Dance...

. They are all located in buildings of the former naval shipyard along the eastern shore of Frederiksholm.

The 32 former Gunboat Sheds today house small business mainly in the creative sector, such advertising agencies, media houses and architectural practises.


As the only part of Holmen, Nyholm, is still a military area. Access to the area is therefore restricted. However, the public is allowed to enter Nyholm from sunrise (not earlier than 8 am though) to sunset. Sunset is marked by a single shot from a cannon at the Sixtus Battery. Among the institutions located at Nyholm is the Royal Danish Naval Academy
Royal Danish Naval Academy
The Royal Danish Naval Academy educates and commissions all officers for the Royal Danish Navy...


Frederik V's Masting Sheer

Frederik V's Masting Sheer
Mastekranen is an 18th-century masting sheer and present landmark on Holmen in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was designed by architect Philip de Lange and built in 1748–51 as part of the Royal Naval Shipyard at Holmen.-History:...

 is a masting sheer
Masting sheer
A masting sheer, sheers, shears or masting crane is a specialised shipyard crane, intended for placing tall masts onto large sailing ships...

 built in 1748-51 to the design of Philip de Lange
Philip de Lange
Philip de Lange was a leading Dutch-Danish architect who designed many different types of building in various styles including Dutch Baroque and Rococo.-Early life and family:...

. It was used by the shipyard for the mounting of masts.


Planbygningen (English: The Design Building) was used for the design and carving of frame
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...

s. The building had the capacity to contain all frames for two whole naval vessels. It was built in 1764 as a replacement for an older building with the same function and is annexed to the masting sheer.

Nyholm Central Guard

Nyholm Central Guard (Danish: Nyholm Hovedvagt) is a guardhouse
A guardhouse is a building used to house personnel and security equipment...

 from 1744 designed by Phillipe de Lange. It has a characteristic tower featuring a clock and with a crown atop. For many years it was simply referred to as "Under Uret" (English: "Beneath the Clock"). The crown at the top was reused in the design of the spire for Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace
Christiansborg Palace, , on the islet of Slotsholmen in central Copenhagen, is the seat of the Folketing , the Danish Prime Minister's Office and the Danish Supreme Court...

. However, in connection with a renovation in 1934, two more crowns were added to the original spire at Christiansborg, making the resemblance somewhat less obvious.


Elefanten (English: The Elephant) is a pier at the northern tip of Nyholm. It is at this pier that the Royal yacht ties up when it is in Copenhagen. Also berthed at the pier is the frigate which serves as a museum ship. The pier is named for the naval vessel Elephanten which was scuttled at the site to create it.

Batteriet Sixtus

Batteriet Sixtus (English: The Sixtus Battery) is a small fortification of earthworks on the northern part of Nyholm. It is from here that official cannon salutes are fired at special events.

External links

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