Czarens Hus – The Tsar House

Named after the Russian Tsar Peter the Great who visited Nykøbing Falster in July 1716, The Tsar’s House is the towns’s landmark.

The half-timbered house was built in the 1690′. Some archaeological researches suggested the place was already used in the 1200 to house merchants and servants. The first known owner was Ivar Rosenfeldt, who started the guest house in 1697, and was also the postmaster of Nykøbing. Actually, as the post was not delivered to the city, people came to collect it in this house.

In the beginning of the 18th century, Denmark’s King Frederik IV was allied with the Russian Tsar Peter the Great, and offered him to use his fleet in order to invade Scania, under the Great Nordic War. On his way to Copenhagen, where the fleet was at anchor, Peter the Great stopped at Nykøbing. According to the legend, he preferred to eat at the inn, rather than stay at the Castle in the company of the royal family… Some even say he also slept there, although there is no proof.

The inn, who is told to be the oldest in Denmark, added then a wooden plaque to commemorate the auspicious visitor, an item that is still visible today in the restaurant. Nowadays, the Tsar’s House is listed, and is owned by Lolland-Falster’s Museum.

Until recently, the restaurant was open and it was a must see for all visitors. Unfortunately, it closed permanently in September 2018… What a shame ! The restaurant was managed by Nelli Hjorth and Alen Music, but after a rough year, Lolland-Falster’s Museum, who owns the building, chose to terminate their agreement and asked them to leave. Luckily for me, I had the chance to eat there three times. One for a coffee, and twice for very memorable Sunday brunches. You can imagine how wonderful it was to eat in such a legendary place…

Photo : Guldkanon.dk

Czarens Hus
Færgestræde 1A / Langgade 2
48000 Nykøbing Falster

Bjørnebrønden – The Bear Well

Bjørnebrønden (“The Bear Well”) is a very nice fountain in the heart of Nykøbing, at the main square, Torvet. It is made of granite from the Danish island of Bornholm, by Mogens Bøgghild (1901-1987). The Bear has been donated by the wholesaler E. Jeppensen in 1939 to celebrate Nykøbing Falster’s 400th anniversary as a market town.

The architect Kaare Klint, in charge of the project, mentions that “the bear is a well-known symbol of a nation, and thereby related to a nearby house and a famous visit that took place in the year 1716”. That year in July, the Russian Tzar Peter The Great visited Nykøbing Falster, where he chose to eat (and perhaps also stay overnight) at the inn, which has since been known as the Tsar’s House (Czarens Hus).

It is also the wholesaler Jeppesen who’s behind the preservation of the Czar’s House and the Falsters Minder Museum in the same building. There is thus a close connection between the story of this protected building on the corner of Langgade / Færgestræde and Bjørnebrønden.

The “Bear project” is a result of an architecture competition, and was submitted on November 24, 1937, at Charlottenborg.

The original drawing of the Bear Well project. (Source : KØS)

In a letter dated 29 August 1938, the architect Kaare Klint wrote to the mayor: “After Mogens Bøggild has completed the model of the bear, it is my conviction that Nykøbing will have a work of art of rank, therefore it is very important to me that the surroundings be arranged in the best way ”.

Both architect Kaare Klint and sculptor Mogens Bøggild are important national representatives of each their art discipline, architecture and visual arts. For this reason, the Bjørnebrønden’s presence in the middle of the town square (Torvet) is an important, cultural-historical landmark in Nykøbing Falster.

Unvailing Bjørnebrønden, the original press article (Source : Lolland-Falster Historiske Samfund)

The Bear Well has been renovated in 2002-2003. The old elm trees have been replaced by two linden trees. The round benches were restored in oak, prepared according to the original drawings. Everything, both sculpture, well, paving, benches and trees are in very good condition, and the renovation respected the original drawings.

Unfortunately, the main square is being renovated (2019-2020) : the Bear Well will move, to let place to a “puddle”, the benches and trees will be removed… In a petition from 2018, on Facebook, the Cultural Heritage Association wrote that “it will be no less than a scandal and, to the extent, disrespectful of the history”. They set as example the latest renovation, : “It was done with the help of The Conservation Fund and Nordea. The square can easily be subjected to renovation without breaking it up.”

So far, as I’m writing this story (April 2019), the renovation of Torvet has just started. A fountain has already been removed (The Canon), but this didn’t break the heart of local people, because most considered it as an “ugly piece of modern art”. At the contrary, The Bear Well is cherished by the town’s inhabitants and visitors. Let’s hope he will keep the place it deserves…