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Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens at Night

Tivoli Gardens, is a famous amusement park in Copenhagen, Denmark. The park opened on August 15, 1843 and, except for Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg, it is the oldest amusement park which has survived intact to the present day. It was first called "Tivoli & Vauxhall": "Tivoli" alluding to the Jardin de Tivoli in Paris (which in its turn had been named from Tivoli near Rome), and "Vauxhall" alluding to the Vauxhall Gardens in London.

Tivoli's founder, Georg Carstensen (b. 1812 - d. 1857) obtained a five-year charter to create Tivoli by telling King Christian VIII that "when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics". The monarch granted Carstensen use of roughly 15 acres of the fortified glacis outside Vesterport (the West Gate) at the annual rent of 945 kroner. Therefore, until the 1850s, Tivoli was outside the city, accessible through the West Gate.

From the very start, Tivoli included a variety of attractions: buildings in the exotic style of an imaginary Orient: a theatre, band stands, restaurants and cafés, flower gardens, and mechanical amusement rides such as a merry-go-round and a primitive scenic railway. After dark, coloured lamps illuminated the gardens. On certain evenings, specially designed fireworks could be seen reflected in Tivoli's lake.

Composer Hans Christian Lumbye (b. 1810 - d. 1874) was Tivoli's musical director from 1843 to 1872. Lumbye was inspired by Vienese waltz composers like the Strauss family, and became known as the "Strauss of the North." Many of his compositions are specifically inspired by the gardens, including *Salute to the Ticket Holders of Tivoli*, *Carnival Joys* and *A Festive Night at Tivoli*. The Tivoli Symphony Orchestra still performs many of his works.

In 1944, Nazi sympathisers attempted to break the Danish peoples' spirit by burning many of Tivoli's buildings, including the concert hall, to the ground. Undaunted, the Danes built temporary buildings, and the park was back in operation after a few weeks.

Today, Tivoli is in the very center of Copenhagen, and the gardens are surrounded by heavily trafficked streets. At one side stands the City Hall (Rådhus), and at the other, the Central Train Station (Hovedbanegård) -- both dating from around 1900. The general layout of the Gardens has been preserved. For instance, the shape of the grounds is still that of the old fortifications, the lake being part of the old city moat. The main entrance is still where it was in 1843, and just inside stands the Pantomime Theater, a highly original building in Chinese style which in 1874 took the place of an older smaller theater. The audience stands in the open, the stage being inside the building. The theatre's "curtain" is a mechanical peacock's tail. From the very beginning, the Theater was the home of Italian pantomimes, introduced in Denmark by the Italian Giuseppe Casorti. This tradition, which is dependent on the Italian Commedia dell'Arte has been kept alive, including the characters Cassander (the old father), Columbine (his beautiful daughter), Harlequin (her lover), and, especially popular with the youngest spectators, the stupid servant Pierrot. The absence of spoken dialogue is an advantage, as Tivoli is now an international tourist attraction.

Tivoli is one of the oldest amusement parks that has survived intact to the present day -- always evolving without abandoning its original charm or traditions. As Georg Carstensen said in 1844, "Tivoli will never, so to speak, be finished," a sentiment echoed just over a century later when Walt Disney said of his own Tivoli-inspired theme park, "Disneyland will never be finished as long as there is imagination left in the world."

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