Odense

Home of a Great Dane

The city of Odense, the third-largest in Denmark, lies on the island of Funen which happens to be the third-largest island in Denmark (and the 163rd largest in the world if you keep track of these things.) Funen is linked to Zealand, the country's largest island by the Great Belt Bridge which carries both trains and cars. This suspension bridge was Denmark's most expensive and largest public works project back in 1997, and has drastically reduced travel times. With a Eurail Denmark Pass, you can now get to Copenhagen from Odense in just about one hour and 15 minutes and Arhus in about 90 minutes.

But even the Great Belt Bridge can't trump the writings of a single man. Born in Odense, Hans Christian Andersen is still Denmark's most famous celebrity. The world famous fairy tale writer is – in a word – everywhere, especially in Odense.

Born on April 2, 1805 in a tiny house on Munkemøllestræde, part of the official Hans Christian Andersen Museum is located here. The impressive collection includes documents from his life, period furnishings and many drawings and paper clippings. The domed hall of the museum, which was set up as a memorial hall in 1930, is decorated with scenes from his autobiography, "Story of My Life."

Behind Saint Canute's Cathedral, you'll find a garden commemmorating the writer. With a statue of H.C. Andersen, there's also beautiful flowers and a river with a scultpure of a paperboat based on the story "The Brave Tin Soldier." The cathedral is also worth a visit. Formerly connected with the great Benedictine monastery of the same name, and is one of the largest and finest Gothic buildings in Denmark. Under the altar lies Canute, the patron saint of Denmark, who had planned to conquer England from William of Normandy and was slain in an insurrection at Odense in 1086.

The city of Odense is very compact, and easily explore by bicycle. You may not even see a single car while visiting, as this is the most popular form of transport. So hop on a ten-speed and explore the markets, shops and cafes. And don't forget to stop at the Hans Christian Andersen Parade that runs 3 times a day. "20 Fairy Tales in 20 Minutes" is free and takes places at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm in almost any kind of weather.

During his lifetime, Andersen was acclaimed for having delighted children worldwide, and was feted by royalty. His poetry and stories have been translated into more than 150 languages and have inspired movies, plays and ballets.

Don your Emperor's New Clothes and come to Odense, a city that's no Ugly Ducking. Glide through town like a Little Mermaid. And know you are in the land of fairy tales.

Contributed by: Rachel, E-business Editor, who has experienced much more of Europe than she ever imagined, traveling by train.

 


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