In the centre of Funen lies quaint, but lovely Odense. Denmark’s third largest city (pop. 200,703 in 2017) and the birthplace of fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen is indeed the Danish fairytale city.
The Gothic cathedral, Skt Knuds Domkirke, is one of the most beautiful landmarks. It was named after King Knud (Canute) II, who was murdered in the town in 1086 by his rebellious subjects and later canonized by the Pope. It’s adorned with a gilded altarpiece made by Claus Berg in Germany in 1521. In the crypt lie the remains of Skt Knud.
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Munkemøllestredet west of the cathedral, is the cobblestone street where the storyteller Hans Christian Andersen grew up in the early 1800s. Northeast of the cathedral is the outstanding Hans Christian Andersen Museum. The museum’s collection is devoted to the writer’s life, with manuscripts and other personal belongings.
Denmark’s foremost composer, Carl Nielsen spent his early years in the city, and the Carl Nielsen Museum is devoted both to his life and work and to that of his wife, Anne Marie Nielsen, a sculptor. His childhood home can be visited at Nørre Lyndelse, 15km (9 miles) south of Odense.
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Few other cities have a river that is clean enough to offer fishermen sea trout and eel, an accomplishment for a once-polluted industrial center. Today, the quarter around the old factory buildings at Kongensgade and Vestergade has been revitalized and is a popular destination for leisure-seekers.
The former textile mill, Brandts, off Vestergade, is now a multipurpose cultural center, complete with Museet for Fotokunst (Museum of Photographic Art), Kunsthallen art gallery, featuring a varied program of exhibitions, Danmarks Mediemuseum (Danish Media Museum), and Tidens Samling (Time Collection), which follows daily life and fashion since 1900, plus cafés, bars and concert halls.
Just south of Odense is a delightful spot, Den Fynske Landsby (Funen Village). It contains old farm buildings from different areas, with a vicarage, workshops, a windmill and watermill.
The Danish Fairytale City, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Odense City Hall. Photo: Wikipedia