Fire consumes Copenhagen’s 400-year-old stock market building

Copenhagen residents looked on in horror Tuesday as the Danish capital’s historic stock exchange building was engulfed in flames and its 180-foot spire in the shape of four entwined dragon tails collapsed. Everyone inside the building was able to leave.

Known as the Borsen, the 400-year-old building served as the stock exchange until the 1970s. Today it houses the headquarters of the Danish Chamber of Commerce. Dramatic video from the scene showed huge plumes of black smoke billowing from the building.

“An important part of our architectural heritage was and still is in flames,” King Frederik X wrote in a post on Instagram. “For generations, the characteristic dragon spire has helped to define Copenhagen as the ‘city of towers.’”

In photos: Fire breaks out at Denmark stock exchange building

People rushed into the building to help save its extensive collection of historic artwork. The National Museum also sent 25 employees to the scene to help evacuate the art, it tweeted.

“We have been able to rescue a lot,” Brian Mikkelsen, chief of the Danish Chamber of Commerce, told reporters. “It is a national disaster.” He and his staff were seen flipping through binders of photos showcasing the building’s artworks to determine what had been saved, according to the Associated Press.

Mikkelsen, who himself helped save some artworks, said tools had to be used to remove them.

“Terrible pictures from the Stock Exchange this morning,” Danish Culture Minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt tweeted. “400 years of Danish cultural heritage in flames.”

The fire was first reported at 7:30 a.m. Copenhagen fire department head Jakob Vedsted Andersen told reporters that the blaze, which began in the building’s copper roof, had spread to several floors of the building.

“The facades are still standing, but they are starting to give way as the construction burns away,” Vedsted Andersen said, adding that “we are trying everything we can to protect the facades, but we cannot give any guarantees.”

The fire department said that scaffolding around the building, currently in place for renovations, made it harder for emergency services to reach the flames, while copper roof was preserving the heat.

The cause of the fire was not initially clear.

The incident was Denmark’s “Notre Dame moment,” Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen wrote on X, recalling the images of the burning Paris cathedral that was severely damaged five years ago.

Commissioned by Christian IV, King of Denmark and Norway, construction of the Dutch Renaissance-style building began in 1619, with the first shops on the lower floor already in use in 1624.

Unsatisfied with what he saw as construction neared completion, the king said the building looked more like a warehouse than a royal building and instructed the architect to redo the roof.

He also called for the addition of the now famous spired tower and its four dragons, which were later said to protect the exchange from enemies and fire.

“It has succeeded well. Neighboring buildings and Christiansborg Palace have been in flames,” the Chamber of Commerce wrote on their website, referring to the home of the Danish Parliament which has been dogged by fire. “But the dragons have looked after Borsen.”

The ongoing renovation of the Borsen was scheduled to coincide with the building’s 400th anniversary and to correct mistakes made in an 1883 restoration.


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