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Koge (Copenhagen), Denmark

This charming market town and seaport about 39 km (24 miles) south of Copenhagen offers a well-preserved old town center with some of Denmark’s oldest half-timbered buildings, along with the amenities of a modern Danish suburban community.  It was originally chartered as a market town in 1288 and was an important merchant center during the Middle Ages. It suffered witchcraft trials early in the 17th century and was harassed in several subsequent wars.  The tower steeple of its Sankt Nicolai Kirke was the first lighthouse built in Denmark, and its 1552 Town Hall is the oldest Danish one still in use. The town has a history museum in an original merchant’s house and an interesting museum dedicated to drawings and models for public artworks throughout the country, including a model for Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue.  New rail and transit systems make it a handy hub for regional transportation.