The Little Mermaid (Copenhagen, Denmark)

The Little Mermaid
Photo by Jorge Franganillo

The Little Mermaid (Den lille Havfrue) is a 1.25 metres (4.1 ft) tall, 175 kilogram (385 lb) bronze statue by Edvard Eriksen, at the water’s edge along the Langelinie promenade in Copenhagen, Denmark. With more than a million visitors checking out the little mermaid every year, she has become one of the most visited attractions in a city filled with incredible attractions.

Based on the fairytale by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the small statue has become a Copenhagen icon and roadside attraction since its 1913 unveiling. Often just called the mermaid, the statue has also become a symbol of the city itself and can be seen in almost every tourist’s photo album.

The Little Mermaid has many times been the victim of vandalism and has thrice lost her head. Once time one of the arms was sawed off, and she has been covered in paint on numerous occasions. Each time the statue has been vandalized, she has quickly been repaired and restored as a symbol of the city. City officials have on several occasions considered moving the little mermaid several meters out into the harbor to discourage vandalism and to protect her from tourists, but she currently remains on the site she was placed in 1913.

The Little Mermaid was sculpted by Edvard Eriksen as a twin-tailed mermaid, but the fairy tale by Hand Christian Andersen specifically described the mermaid as having a fish tail.

The Little Mermaid Facts

  • The statue was commissioned in 1909 by Carl Jacobsen, the son of Carlsberg founder J.C. Jacobson.
  • Ellen Price, a famous Danish ballerina performed the little mermaid on stage and modeled for the sculpture.
  • The Little Mermaid is the most photographed statue in Denmark with an estimated 5 million photos taken every year.
  • Price never agreed to model in the nude, so sculptor Edvard Erikson used his wife as the model for the body.
  • The Little Mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen.
  • Copies of the statue reside all over the world and small versions are available online at the official Little Mermaid website.