Aalborg Tower – Aalborg, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

Aalborg Tower

This modernist tower was saved by a fraternity with a 500-year-old penchant for shooting at wooden parrots. 


The town of Aalborg is one of industry. Famed for its shipyard and cement factories, this town took to modernism like a rivet to a girder. So when it hosted the Nordjysk Udstilling in 1933, a large trade fair for the industries of the region, it gave it all it had got to showcase new production methods, styles, and materials. Old houses were demolished to make way for a modern bridge; a great exhibition hall was built; and the Aalborg Tower was erected just west of the town centre.

The tower was designed by local modernist architect Carlo Odgaard and constructed at Aalborg Shipyard. It stands 180 feet (55 meters) tall and features what was, at the time, the tallest exterior elevator in Scandinavia.

While 180 feet isn’t particularly tall by today’s standards, the tower’s location on a hill lifts it well above the rest of the city, offering a 360-degree panorama. During the trade fair, long escalators were installed on the hill, transporting people up to the foot of the tower.

When the Nordjysk Udstilling was over, the town didn’t want to front the cost of dismantling the tower, so sold it to The Shooting Fraternity (Skydebrødrene) for just DKK 5.000 (roughly $700). The Shooting Fraternity is first mentioned in records in 1431, which makes it the oldest in the country.  (In fact the fraternity’s full name is the Fraternal Shooting Society The Parrot Guild est. 20th May 1431.)

The Shooting Fraternity is devoted to standard target practice, but once a year, the target is replaced with a wooden parrot and in Aalborg, you will find traces of these activities in place names such as Papegøjehaven, “The Parrot Gardens.”

Know Before You Go

To get into the tower, ring the bell by the elevator, staff will then personally bring the elevator down to get you. They're adamant that you don't try to open the door yourself.

The tower is open to the public except on stormy days and functions as a cafeteria seating up to 50 people. 

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