Of all the remarkable sights in Copenhagen, the stylish capital of Denmark,  the sculpture ‘Agnete & the Merman’ is truly eye-opening.

For a start, the bronze sculpture is underwater – in a canal alongside the High Bridge in the city’s centre.

The figures rise up from the floor of the canal, slightly obscured by the movement of the water and almost eerily bathed in light at night.


Created in 1992 by Suste Bonnen, the sculpture tells an age-old tale from Danish folklore.

As the legend goes, peasant girl Agnete was passing by the water as a Merman emerged from the depths and offered his hand.

It was love at first sight and Agnete willingly went to the bottom of the sea, where she gave birth to seven sons.

However, it all started to go wrong eight years later when Agnete heard the sound of church bells ringing on the land and  became homesick.

The Merman agreed that she could go  to church, on the  condition that she returned after the service.

But once on dry land again, Agnete found that she missed her old life and family too much. She refused to return to the waters.

In the Copenhagen sculpture, the Merman and his seven sons are calling for Agnete, reaching their arms up through the water in a mute appeal.

Agnete, however, is nowhere to be seen.

It wasn’t really a happy ending for the Merman, but There’s still a touch of romance to the traditional tale.


Placing the sculpture underwater was a stroke of genius; it is absolutely fitting for the subject matter and the swirling water gives a mystical and hazy look, which is perfectly in keeping with an ancient folktale.

And, if you happen upon ‘Agnete and the Merman’ unexpectedly, the sight of figures at the bottom of a canal certainly catches attention.

It is definitely a cool attraction and yet another reason to spend time in one of Europe’s grand cities.

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