The Danish Capital of the United States, Solvang, California, is perhaps best known for its kitsch architecture and delicious pastries, but if you walk just a few blocks from the main drag of tourist shops, you’ll find the Solvang Wind Harp, California’s oldest wind harp.
The wind harp (or Aeolian harp) originally topped one of the towers of the Danish Pavilion at San Francisco’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. When the exposition ended in December 1915, almost all of the buildings were demolished (with the exception of the Palace of Fine Arts).
Fortunately, the wind harp was salvaged and then transported to the newly settled town of Solvang. The design of the wind harp is modeled after the tidskugle (time ball), which used to top Copenhagen’s St. Nikolai Church. Originally made of wood and bamboo, the noisy sculpture is now entirely made of metal. The harp works by being spun as the wind passes through its many threads, creating a variety of musical tones depending on the weather.
The historic harp now stands behind a nursing home, playing music and singing the history of Solvang.
Know Before You Go
Turn left into the nursing community; the wind harp will be on the left. There are two visitor parking spots in front of the harp.