Helena Lyng Blak
5 weeks ago

Fire Engulfs Danish Chamber of Commerce and Historic Stock Exchange ‘Børsen’

The historic building is significantly damaged.
Børsen.
Gianfranco Vivi / Shutterstock.com

Early Tuesday morning, local time, the historic building Børsen (‘The Exchange’) in Copenhagen caught fire.

People inside the building and nearby were evacuated, and there have been no reports of any casualties or injuries.

Cultural Heritage Gone Up in Flames

Celebrating its 400th anniversary, the iconic Børsen building, adjacent to the Danish Parliament, has been a staple of Copenhagen’s architectural landscape and culture for nearly half a millennium.

The building was initiated in 1619 by Christian IV of Denmark and Norway and finished in 1624. For centuries, Børsen served as a market exchange and housed the Danish stock exchange until 1974. The building has since the 19th century been owned and used by the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

“This is our Notre Dame.”

“Our Notre Dame”

Online and in the media, Danes are sharing sentiments of deep sadness in response to the fire.

“I have already cried,” commented one Reddit user.

Speaking to local news, Director of the Chamber of Commerce Brian Mikkelsen called the event a “national disaster”, and described the building as “an institution in its own right and an icon of Danish business through 400 years.”

“This is our Notre Dame,” said Danish stonecutter Henrik Grage to TV2.

The Parisian cathedral burned down exactly five years and one day ago.

Similar to the case of Notre Dame, the building was undergoing massive renovations.

The Dragon Spire Slain

A notable feature of Børsen was its lead 'dragon spire,' intricately designed with four dragons whose intertwined tails formed the spire.

The spire was said to protect the building against enemies and fires.

For centuries, that held true. Despite numerous wars and considerable fires damaging other nearby structures in Copenhagen, Børsen remained unscathed. 

But alas, the four dragons of Børsen could not withstand the flames, and the ornate spire collapsed shortly after the fire took hold of the building. 

Saving the Art

Børsen's cultural heritage extended beyond its architecture. The building was also home to some of the most important pieces of artwork in Danish art history, which probably would have been destroyed in the fire had it not been for the courageous efforts of civilians.

In a moving turn of events, reports from Danish news media describe first responders and civilians, including building employees and passersby, bravely entering the building amidst flames to rescue invaluable artworks and artifacts.

What Comes Next?

According to the Copenhagen Fire Department, it will take upwards of 24 hours to put out the fire.

Although the reason for the fire is not yet known, the fire department believes it was related to the renovation work on the building, much like in the case of Notre Dame.

There is no information about hypothetical efforts to rebuild Børsen, nor the feasibility of such an undertaking.

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