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Istedgade runs from the back of Central Station, through Vesterbro, terminating at Enghave Plads. The heart of Vesterbro, this is one of the most famous streets in Denmark, certainly the most notorious.

Istedgade runs from the back of Central Station, through Vesterbro, terminating at Enghave Plads. The heart of Vesterbro, this is one of the most famous streets in Denmark, certainly the most notorious.

Having just had its 150th anniversary, Istedgade began its life as a home for butchers and merchants because of the convenient proximity to Central Station. Historically a blue collar/socialist neighborhood – during the German occupation of WWII, Istedgade united under the slogan of “Istedgade never surrenders” in the uprising and general strike of the summer of 1944. It has always been a multicultural place, from circus performers and acrobats in the 1800s to the Pakistani and Arabic immigrants of the past 30 years. In his novel of 1930, “Havoc”, Tom Kristensen, a Danish expressionist author and poet described Istedgade like this: “It was infinite. The morning sun flashed in a myriad of open windows as if in drops of water, and further out by Enghaveplads, the gray and yellow facades became airy like distant mountains, finally dissolving in a shimmery fog.”

For years Istedgade has been the center of the Copenhagen red-light district, but becoming increasingly trendy during the 90s, real estate prices in the area have gone through the roof and are now some of the highest in Copenhagen. The neighborhood seems to have frozen on the cusp of transformation – it is eclectic, bordering on schizophrenic. From the station to Gasværksvej, the street is still very much a red light district: sex shops and prostitution, narcotics are sold fairly openly. Mariakirken (Church of Mary) houses a counseling service for the junkies of Copenhagen, and Mændenes Hjem (“Men’s Home”) is a shelter for homeless and otherwise marginalized people, This part of the street also has an excellent bakery, lots of tasty Indian and Thai food. It is the go-to place if you need an Asian or Middle Eastern ingredient, as well as being the home of hundreds of regular families. The prevailing spirit is one of coexistence.

Continuing down the street, the frequency of trendy restaurants, sidewalk cafes and funky wine bars goes up dramatically. High-end design stores next to second hand furniture shops next to shops selling water pipes, statues of Mary and flashing pizza signs. If you’re looking for trendy, retro or kitsch, this is where to find it. Places to watch out for are: Rockahula, the boutique that caters to all your rockabilly needs (keep a look out for the hot-rod style flames painted on the neighbors’ doors), Dixie Grey – a Danish 50s-inspired clothing brand, and Gelato Siciliano – delicious fresh Sicilian ice cream.

At the end of the street is Enghave Plads, part city square, part small park, it’s a great place to hang out in the summer, eat an ice cream cone and watch the kids skating – or to feed the ducks in the winter. Just around the corner, on Enghavevej, is Vega, one of the major nightclubs/concert halls of Copenhagen.

For better or worse, Istedgade is one of my favorite places in Copenhagen.

Sources & links:
Istedgade on “Wikipedia”:"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istedgade, Mændenes Hjem, 150 år med Istedgade, Gelato Siciliano

written by eggzakly

3 comments

  1. stouf

    stouf

    Ho, that's my kind of place ! Superb shots, and I already told you I was amazed by the first of the first gallery !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. tveden

    tveden

    Very nice description of a very cool street. Lots of good details in your text. This street is a super place to take your lomo camera. Love the pic with the pigeons taking off, by the way.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. eggzakly

    eggzakly

    thanks ;D

    over 4 years ago · report as spam

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