Copenhagen’s Den Blå Planet (The Blue Planet) opened in 1939 and has been a national fixture ever since. Visit its new, state-of-the-art aquarium for an immersive underwater experience without leaving dry land.
The history of Den Blå Planet
The aquarium, Den Blå Planet, is the brainchild of engineer Knud Højgaard and his son, zoologist Mogens Højgaard, who hatched their plan for a 'greenhouse for fish and amphibians' in the early 20th century. The first public aquarium in Denmark, it's been open since 1939, minus a short hiatus to relocate to a larger venue in 2013. Today, the aquarium contains seven million liters of water and 20,000 fish and marine animals in 53 tanks, making it the largest aquarium in northern Europe.
The year the aquarium opened, World War II broke out and fish could not be imported into Denmark, drastically limiting the number of species on view. In summer 1944, a strike knocked out the electricity that powered the fish tanks, so Mogens and his staff used pedal power to get enough oxygen into the tanks. The aquarium survived the war, and more annexes were added over the next 60 years, until eventually new premises were required – and found, in the Copenhagen suburb of Kastrup.
A new home
The aquarium's modern waterfront home is just a 20-minute drive from the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen. Its sleek design was inspired by the spiraling shape of whirlpools. As you walk through the aquarium, you are surrounded by enclosed water, which creates the impression of being submerged under the sea. Immediately after the entrance lies the 'vortex' of the whirlpool; from there, you can choose your own route through the aquarium by following one of the building's five bending pathways.
Each section of the aquarium has a different theme, recreating the varied habitats of its underwater inhabitants. 'The Ocean' is by far the aquarium's largest tank. Filled with four million liters of seawater, its biggest occupants include hammerhead sharks, stingrays and moray eels. 'Amazonas' houses Europe’s largest school of carnivorous piranhas, and its humid enclosure will envelop you in a very realistic rainforest experience. The delightful 'Seahorses' section is directly opposite 'Coleoidea,' where you'll find octopi, squid and clams. 'The Lakes of Africa,' 'Faroe Islands' and 'The Coral Reef' provide insights into far-off underwater worlds, while 'The Cave' lets you in on the mysteries of elephant fish and electric eels.
To make sure you don't miss a mollusk, you can sign up for one of the daily guided tours. The guides will give you an exclusive behind-the-curtain look at the technology that powers the tanks, teach you more about the wildlife and explain the design process behind the aquarium’s unique architecture. Large groups can book private tours in advance.
Two of Den Blå Planet's newest residents are the adorable Alaskan otters Agnes and Mojoe. This playful pair lives in the aquarium’s newest facilities, built especially for them. Mojoe was nursed back to health after being hit by a boat, and Agnes has been raised by human caretakers since she was found alone when she was only one day old. If you go to see Agnes and Mojoe during their training and feeding times, you might catch a glimpse of Agnes performing one of her trademark backward somersaults.