The Mast Crane - The Vessels at Holmen
Re-opens in April 2024
The most significant building on Holmen is the Mast Crane from 1749. The crane was used for keel hauling of ships and insertion of masts. It is built entirely of wood, and the wall around it is only a shell that protects the woodwork from wind and weather. The crane was able to lift twenty tons – only using manpower.
Holmen was the main base, dock yard and anchorage for the Royal Danish Navy from 1690 to 1993. Copenhagen maintained a military home base as far back as the late 13th century, but the Navy was not granted a shipyard until around 1500. This was located on Bremerholm in the inner city.
In 1680 work commenced to relocate the Navy outside the city due to limited space and risk of fire. Holmen was subsequently established by lowering decommissioned ships filled with waste from the streets and mud from the harbour, thus creating the artificial island of Nyholm. At the northern end of the island the warship Elephanten was lowered into the water at a 90° angle creating another small island to shelter the ships at anchor. This island functioned as a pier for centuries. The waters between the inner city and Nyholm housed the Navy ships.
The Mast Crane offers a viewpoint with an impressive 360 degrees view over Holmen and Copenhagen.