Footprints in the snow – A Nordic Noir tour

Following the footprints of our favourite Nordic characters with a tour around Copenhagen.

This past New Year’s Eve, I found myself standing outside Copenhagen’s Vesterport Station, huddled amongst a group of fellow Scandi crime drama devotees. This was in an effort to take in some of the filming locations from The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen, courtesy of a local company Nordic Noir Tours.

Our first port of call was the nearby Radisson Blu Royal where Saga can be seen meeting with Kim in episodes of The Bridge. Our guide informed us that the hotel was designed by the celebrated Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, whose many other creations can be seen throughout the city, including the Danmarks Nationalbank (Danish National Bank) building. The hotel was conceived as a showcase for stylish Danish architecture, a fact that is immediately apparent when you enter the foyer.

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From there, we were led to a less upmarket part of town, along Istedgade – which the guide referred to as, “the most dangerous street in Denmark”. It was along this street that our collective gaze was directed towards a building used several times as a location in series one of The Bridge.

Next up, a location from The Killing – and one easily recognisable even to the least seasoned Scandi novice (of which I count myself as one). Nanna Birk Larsen’s school, as it turns out, is actually a functioning school – although, this being New Year’s Eve, it was, of course, deathly quiet as we passed by.  As an interesting side note, our guide mentioned that, for actor Farshad Kholghi, playing the role of Rama, one of Nanna’s teachers, was a welcome departure as he had previously been used to landing ‘bad guy’ parts.

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From one Killing location to another, and perhaps the most iconic and instantly recognisable of the entire first series – Copenhagen City Hall, a dramatic structure which, as Nordic Noir fans will recall, plays host to much political intrigue between Troels and his cronies in season one. Constructed in 1905, the current building was designed in the National Romantic style by architect Martin Nyrop, to make it look older than it actually is.

Moving on, we headed to the Meatpacking District – or rather, districts, as the area is divided into the “White”, “Grey” and “Brown” Meatpacking Districts. Apparently now the city’s go-to place for a trendy night out, the White Meatpacking District also has the dubious distinction of being the place where, in series one of The Bridge, the lower half of one of the body’s found on the Öresund Bridge is discovered in deep freeze.

Finally, we arrived at what was surely the highlight of the tour – the lofty towers of Christiansborg, and the various locations of my favourite slice of Scandi drama, Borgen. First up, of course, the imposing Christiansborg Palace itself – where, looking up at the windows on the upper floors, I imagine Birgitte Nyborg gazing out over Copenhagen and contemplating her next crafty political move as Statsminister.

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As we made our way through the grounds of the palace, we eventually came to the hallowed steps, so familiar to Borgen enthusiasts as the steps at which Birgitte arrives with her family having just been elected Denmark’s first female Prime Minister.

For our last stop on the tour, we came out the other side of the Palace grounds and down to the waterfront.  It was here that we could gaze upon the building where Torben and Katrine make and break political careers with their ruthless reporting.  It was also here that you see the riverside path along which Katrine blows off the cobwebs of the day with a brisk run, and where Torben takes his kids for a walk during his marital crisis.

And so, with a final glimpse up at the towers of Christiansborg, our tour came to an end.

By Ewan Cant, Arrow Films