historic buildings, historic maps, streetscape

the Caritas Well

The Caritasbrønden or Caritas Well on Gammel Torv was constructed for the King, for Christian IV, in 1608 when a new city hall was built across the centre of this open space to replace a medieval city hall that had been on the east side of the square.

Just over a century later, that 17th-century building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1728 and a new city hall was built on the same site. When that building in turn was destroyed - in the fire of 1795 - a new city hall was built on the west side of Nytorv and the two squares were joined into a single open space. An outline of the 17th-century hall is marked with stones set into the cobbles of the square.

The group of figures in the centre of the basin of the fountain, representing the virtue of love or charity, was first carved in wood by the German artist Statius Otto before it was cast in bronze.

The fountain was not just ornamental but was part of a system supplying fresh water to the city.

This photograph was taken on the Queen’s birthday, on the 16th April, just after the royal carriage had progressed along Strøget to take the Queen from the palace to a reception at the city hall.

The Caritas Well and the city hall from the upper end of the square in the 18th century