As Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building Burns, Artworks are Carried to Safety - The World News

As Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building Burns, Artworks are Carried to Safety

The historic former stock exchange building in Copenhagen, which is home to one of Denmark’s most valuable art collections, caught fire. The blaze has claimed the 17th-century Dutch Renaissance-style building’s roof and spire, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The Bourse, as it is known, was undergoing renovation and was surrounded by scaffolding when it broke out in flames. The city’s fire service first reported the fire at 7:30am Tuesday. The parliament and ministries close by were evacuated from the area. Police have blocked the main road and part of the city center as a result of the blaze.

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Clock installed on wall.

The scaffolding has, unfortunately, made it more difficult to combat the flames and the Bourse’s copper roof has trapped the heat, according to the fire service. There were reportedly other areas of the building that could not be accessed, as they were too dangerous to approach.

Sections of the roof collapsed and the fire has already spread to several floors. Even with roughly 120 people fighting the fire, it was only about 40% contained. Firefighters expect to be battling the flames for at least 24 hours.

Approximately 90 from the Royal Life Guards army unit also helped to barricade the area and secure valuables, according to local media.

“We are witnessing a terrible spectacle. The Bourse is on fire,” wrote the Chamber of Commerce, which occupies the building next to Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish parliament, on X. “Everyone is asked to stay away.”

The Bourse was commissioned by King Christian IV and erected between 1619 and 1640. The structure was topped with a 184 foot spire shaped into four intertwined dragon tails with three crowns. The dragons were seen as symbolically protecting Denmark’s stock exchange, which was housed at the Bourse until 1974, from enemies such as fire. The crowns symbolized the kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Denmark’s culture minister Jakob Engel-Schmidt remarked on X that, despite losing a major piece of Danish cultural heritage, it was “touching to see Bourse staff, emergency services and passing Copenhageners … saving art treasures”.

The Bourse holds one of the country’s most valuable collections of art. Though much of the work had been removed ahead of the renovation, people rushed to carry art from the building to the nearby parliament and Danish National Archives for safekeeping. One such work carried out of the building by eight people was From the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (1895) by the 19th-century Danish-Norwegian artist Peder Severin Krøyer depicting a large group of men in coat-tails gathered in the exchange hall.

Christiansborg Palace burned down several times—the most recent of which occurred in the annex of the parliament in 1990.

The cause of the fire at the Bourse remains unclear.

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