Bakken, located in Denmark, is the oldest amusement park in the world, dating back to 1583. Originally a place for artists and entrepreneurs to exhibit and sell their goods, it now boasts 32 traditional rides and over 2.5 million visitors annually. The park’s name, Dyrehavsbakken, translates to “the hill of the deer pasture”, and it was once a royal hunting reserve before reopening to the public in 1756.
The concept of amusement parks started in medieval Europe as bucolic retreats where people went to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. At the time they were called pleasure gardens and offered entertainment such as mimes, magicians, dances, fireworks and games. The oldest amusement park still in existence is located in Bakken, a deer forest about 30 minutes from Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. After the discovery of a natural spring in what would become known as Dyrehavsbakken – translated as “the hill of the deer pasture” – people began to gather there as early as 1583. It soon became a venue for artists to exhibit and entrepreneurs to sell their goods. Today Bakken is a thriving amusement park, with 32 traditional rides including a wooden roller coaster built in 1932.
A place for harlequins and street vendors:
The vintage Bakken roller coaster is known as Rutschebanen, which is Danish for “The Roller Coaster”. Bakken is considered the oldest operating amusement park in the world, with over 2.5 million visitors annually.
Water quality in Copenhagen was poor, so after Kirsten Piil discovered the spring in the late 1500s, Copenhagen residents took day trips to Bakken, to drink the water that many thought held healing powers.
In 1669, King Frederick III built a wildlife park at Bakken, and a year later the area was declared a royal hunting reserve and closed to the public until 1756, when the park was reopened.