Holmen is the name given to the row of islands linked by bridges to the east of Copenhagen between Zealand and the northern tip of the island of Amager, most of which are artificial, having been created from the 1680s onwards by sinking the hulks of ships and filling in the areas around them with waste from the city streets.
Holmen was for three centuries the principal base of the Danish navy, which now has only a modest presence in the area, consisting principally of the naval college and facilities for maintaining the Danish royal yacht. The base included a shipyard, where the first vessel was completed in 1692, and the last in 1918. Three further islands were created in the 18th century included one called Arsenaloen on which a naval arsenal was established from 1770. The first steam engine in Denmark was installed at the anchor forge on Gammelholm island in 1790. Early in 1996, after the navy had moved its principal base to Korsor, most of the Holmen area was opened to the public and its subsequent transformation is an outstanding example of how new uses can be found for redundant industrial structures.
The oldest remaining buildings in the area are black powder magazines of 1688 and 1690 that stand on the Carls and Wilhems bastions. Other historic structures of the dockyard that remain include the old mast crane of 1748, a five-storey tower with a Mansard-style attic storey on which is mounted the crane, and a pres-stressed concrete seaplane hangar of 1921 that has been adapted as offices. A series of national academies including those concerned with drama, films and rock music, as well as the Royal Danish Academy School of Architecture, have been established on Frederiksholm island, and the national opera house, designed by Boje Lundgaard and Lene Traneberg stands on Dokoen. Elsewhere there are apartment blocks, offices, shops and galleries.