The old Copenhagen Stock Exchange building partially collapses in a fire

The old Stock Exchange building in central Copenhagen – one of the city's oldest structures, known for its elaborate spire of intertwined dragon tails – partially collapsed in a major fire late Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, but social media images and videos showed flames on the roof of the structure and dark clouds of smoke lingering over the city.

“It is absolutely terrible to see Borsen in flames,” Jakob Engel-Schmidt, Denmark's culture minister, said in an interview late Tuesday, using the building's Danish name. “The building represents over 400 years of Danish history. It is one of the last Dutch Renaissance-style structures in the world, where trade took place during the entire period.”

Copenhagen police said on social media that they had evacuated several surrounding buildings and urged people to avoid the area.

A local emergency response agency also urged people to keep their distance from the fire and seek medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing due to the smoke.

The Old Stock Exchange Building, a 17th-century structure that was once Denmark's financial center, also housed numerous historical paintings and other artifacts. City officials removed valuables from the building after the fire broke out. At the time of the fire the building was occupied by Dansk Erhverv, a business organisation.

One of the largest works rescued was “From the Copenhagen Stock Exchange” by Peder Severin Kroyer, according to a local news report. The work, painted in 1895 and depicting several key figures in Danish finance, is more than 13 feet long. It took six people to get him to safety.

Engel-Schmidt said the old bag's artwork “tells us something about us as a nation and as a people.” She added that the building has been the backdrop to countless historical events and that it is ingrained in the Danish psyche.

“That's why there are people on the street, looking incredibly sad,” he said. “He hits me too.”

Several other officials complained about the fire, including Jan Jorgensen, a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, who called for the reconstruction of the old stock exchange. “Probably the most iconic building in Copenhagen,” he said on social media. “All forces must be united to rebuild this old, beautiful house in all its power and splendor.”

The building was built under the direction of King Christian IV, who recognized the importance of trade and commerce, according to the tourist site Visit Copenhagen. The original structure contained at least 40 market stalls and was surrounded by water on three sides to help ships easily unload their cargo.

On Tuesday, as firefighters doused the flames, dozens of onlookers stood quietly on the street, watching in shock, including Celeste Bolvinkil Andersen, who said she woke up when she heard her roommate screaming about the fire.

“It's kind of like becoming a first-hand witness to history,” he said. “I can't help but sit here deeply, deeply disappointed in myself, for not going in and not seeing Borsen from the inside. And now he is completely gone”.

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