Israels Plads

streetscape, new building

Torvehallerne, Israels Plads


Just a block to the west of Norreport metro and railway station is Israels Plads - a large square that was laid out in the late 19th century once building immediately outside the defensive walls of the city was allowed.

Across the north side of the square is Frederiksborggade, a busy road of shops and apartments leading out to the lakes and the bridge to Nørrebro. There are large and quite grand apartment buildings on the two long sides of square but the south end is open to Ørstedsparken - a green space with mature trees and a large lake that remains from a section of the moat that ran around the outer side of the city defences. 

There was a greengrocers’ market on the square from 1889 until 1958 when a large new vegetable market opened at Valby.

As part of a major upgrading of the area, two new food halls designed by Peter Hagens and between an area of outside market opened in September 2011 at the north end of the square. The buildings have simple thin elegant framing supporting shallow pitched roofs and are completely glazed creating good large light spaces that are divided into aisles lined with stalls like many traditional indoor markets.

The food halls are now well established and extremely popular with stalls outside for vegetables and flowers and stalls inside for bread, coffee, wine, fresh meat, cheese and of course fish, along with stalls for cake and drinks. 

Cafes and restaurants in the halls and around the square are particularly busy for lunch and in the evenings when people stop here for a drink on the way home from work and the food halls are now a popular destination for tourists.


streetscape, topography

Israels Plads

   Grønttorvet - the food market on the square about 1900


Grønttorvet - the food market on the square about 1900


After the demolition of the old city walls in the late 19th century there was rapid development of the area between the old part of the city and the line of lakes to the west. Wide new streets were laid out with large new apartment buildings and with a number of squares including a greengrocer’s market, Grønttorvet, that was established in 1889 just beyond the old north gate. The market on the square survived until 1958.

A design competition to remodel the square was won in 2008 by the architectural practice COBE. Two large market halls, the Torvehallerne designed by Peter Hagens, were opened in September 2011 and are now a very popular food market with cafes.

The south half of the square, linking the space with Ørsted Park, is now almost complete with paving, a low stepped ziggurat over the exit from an underground car park, a shallow canal (still to be filled with water) and a sports area.

The main features and hard landscaping includes an open circular access ramp to the underground car park from the south-east corner of the square, a straight exit ramp below the steps at the south-west corner, a large circular sports court for ball games, with high fencing, rings of seating around trees, fixed play equipment for small children, a drinking fountain and pay kiosks and signs for the car park. Paving is a mixture of cut stone and new and reused cobbles with iron edging, presumably corten steel to high kerbs to dissuade drivers of vehicles from going onto the square and up the slopes.

There is a similar triangle of steps at the north-east corner of the square that is popular as an area to sit in the sun and presumably both sets of steps can be used as seating for performances in the square.

At the south end the circular areas for planting are larger and form a scalloped edge to make the transition to the grass and open planting of the adjoining park. A shallow canal feature with imaginative bridges and stepping stones, also in iron/steel, flows across the front of the main steps and down the slope towards the lake in the park through a series of oval basins. 

A road still bisects the square between the food halls and the open square but the east and west sides are ostensibly pedestrian but with access for deliveries and servicing but at the south side vehicles enter and leave just at the corners and the whole south side is paved or planted to protect the unbroken link between the square and the park.