The Carlsberg Brewery is a popular tourist venue in Copenhagen. Naturally, as it features history and beer – a good combination to be sure.
And if you’re visiting, don’t miss the four elephant sculptures hold up the gateway to the ‘new’ Carlsberg Brewery. The edifice stems from something of a family feud.
Carlsberg father and Carlsberg son had had a bit of an altercation so junior decided to build his own brewhouse using his own methods and design. One feature he decided upon was the gate – and the massive four elephants that between them support a small tower.
He, Carl Jacobson, was pretty nutty about elephants. He considered them to be a symbol of great fortune, strength and stability. It was thanks to him that Carlsberg became a brand and product known throughout the world so maybe he had something. Maybe he was right to put his faith in elephants as good luck symbols?
Carl was a man of culture and therefore it might surprise visitors today to notice the symbols that are carved onto the sides of the elephants – swastikas.
But don’t worry, the elephants were created a long time before Hitler appropriated this ancient symbol for his own purposes. The swastika was an ancient symbol of prosperity and wealth. (In fact, there is a place in Canada named Swastika created, like the elephants, many years before Hitler came to power in Germany. Spookily though, it’s where Unity Mitford was born – the supposed English mistress of Hitler who shot herself in the head).
Carl Jacobson and his wife had nine children but by the time the elephants were created only four of them were living so each elephant has one of the children’s initials upon it. (Theodora, Paula, Helge and Vagn). The swastika was also used on the beer bottles themselves but Carl ensured that the practice was stopped when it began to have evil connotations.
Regarding the elephants, Wikipedia notes:
Since then, the Elephant has been a famous part of the Carlsberg family, especially after the strong Elephant Beer was created in 1955 under the name Export Lager Beer featuring the Elephant label. The Elephant is still brewed in Carlsberg Breweries in Copenhagen and exported around the world.
The elephant beer is shown in the photograph below, on the right.
Gamle Carlsberg Vej 11,
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.