Our History

We grew out of a mortgage credit association that for more than 150 years provided home owners with mortgage loans.

It all started back in 1795, when a large part of Copenhagen was destroyed in a great fire. The fire was an important factor behind the establishment in 1797 of Denmark’s first lending institution, by a group of wealthy Copenhageners. The objective of the new institution was to extend loans secured on mortgages in real estate. The initiative was important for the rebuilding of Copenhagen.

To find the roots of Realdania, however, we have to move forward to 1851, when borrowers set up the first mortgage-credit institutions . The new thing here was that borrowers, rather than lenders, joined forces.

Realdania grew out of one of these first mortgage-credit institutions, called Østifternes Kreditforening.

The Danish mortgage-credit institutions were a unique phenomenon. At this time agriculture was undergoing modernisation, dairies and abattoirs were being built, and towns were expanding dramatically.

Denmark is often referred to as the fatherland of adult education and the cooperative association, and at that time, much as today, it was a matter of course to join together in associations in order to address larger or more challenging social tasks.

For around 150 years our association was composed of home-owners and other borrowers, and our objective was to function as a mortgage-credit institution. However, in connection with the merger of Realkredit Danmark and Danske Bank in 2000, we sold the mortgage-credit activities, and it was decided to secure the value of the company capital in a philanthropic association.

Today we are a member-based philanthropic organisation. We use the return of our equity to support projects in the built environment: cities, buildings, and the built heritage. The focus of our philanthropic activities is directly linked to our history as a mortgage-credit institution.