The Round Tower in the heart of Copenhagen is part of a building built to combine knowledge, astronomic insight and piety. Piety was found in the church, which was originally intended for students, whose church room at the adjacent halls of residence had become too crowded. Learning was found in the university library above the church. And astronomic insight was discovered in the 35-metre-tall observation tower with its platform and five houses for stargazing. The tower was inspired by Tycho Brahe's observatory, Stjerneborg, on the island of Hven. The foundation stone was laid by King Christian IV in 1637 and the complex was finished in 1656.
Science and astronomy were popular disciplines in the century following the Reformation. Not least in Denmark, where the King had Rundetårn, "The Round Tower", built with an observatory at the top. Denmark's pioneering researcher in astronomy was Tycho Brahe, who belonged to wealthy nobility from Scania. His passionate interest in astronomy was aroused when he was sent away at the age of 15 to study at the university in Leipzig. He later returned to Germany to continue his studies. In Rostock he became embroiled in a violent dispute with another Danish aristocrat, which ended with the famous duel in which Tycho's nose was disfigured. For the rest of his life he had to wear a silver nose prosthesis. King Frederik II of Denmark was an ardent supporter of the famed researcher and offered him the island of Hven in the Øresund. In 1576 he had the small palace of Uraniborg built, which for the next 20 years became established as an international research centre for astronomy. In 1597, Tycho Brahe left Denmark and was employed by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, in Prague. He died in 1601, barely 55 years of age. Brahe was buried in Teyn Church, Prague beneath a magnificent tombstone. His grave was exhumed in both 1901 and 2010, where the skeleton was found, along with the remains of Tycho Brahe's cap, silk shirt, stockings and velvet shoes.
" The Round Tower has always attracted a crowd. One of its visitors was Hans Christian Andersen. In 1857 he wrote about the library: "It is through the Round Tower that one comes to the university library, which, above the vaulted ceiling of the church, stretches like a large hall whose bookshelves form criss-cross streets. In the depths, at about the place where down in the church the altar stands, was the Old Norse Museum; here were hidden the millennium-old stone wedges, Ash urns and prehistoric swords". The Round Tower functioned as a predecessor for the National Museum of Denmark, and it was here that Christian Jürgensen Thomsen had the idea of dividing prehistory into three Ages: the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. These categories are still used worldwide today. "