History in Every Village
Odense Travel Tale
by Lorry Patton
There are no mountains or rivers in the tiny Kingdom of Denmark, just a changing scenery of hills, forests,
lakes and small streams and a photogenic collection of picture-perfect villages.
Crooked cobblestone streets, grass-roof cottages, ancient amusement parks and 800-year old
cities may not be unique in Europe; however in Denmark, they seem more like plates from the
pages of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales than actual grass and stone.
Throughout the country, there are over 400 castles, many museums that could stand-in for
dungeons, craggy old churches, well-preserved villages and cities and several interesting
Tivoli has been visited by more than 250 million people since 1843. Located in Copenhagen, it
is an overwhelming flower garden with 100,000 lamps; it has merry-go-rounds, roller coasters,
and a flying carpet; and its open air stage entertains 50,000 people. Fine restaurants, fireworks
that go off literally at your feet, and talented pantomimes everywhere are people pleasers. And
the changing of the guards --performed by boys age nine through sixteen since 1944 -- attracts
crowds by the thousands. This ritual seems more like toy soldiers come to life straight from
Hans Christian Anderson's imagination than through hard work and discipline.
No doubt the visions were an inspiration to Denmark's famous native son. In fact, one of the
main reasons Denmark is so popular with visitors from all over the world is that, throughout the
country, the atmosphere and scenery that inspired Hans Christian Andersen to write his world-
famous fairy tales still prevails.
Born in Odense in 1805, Hans Christian Anderson's face hangs proudly from lampposts
illuminating the crooked and narrow cobblestone streets of his fairy tale birthplace. The small
house and surrounding area where he spent his childhood have been restored. A museum nearby,
rich with photographs and several original manuscripts, describes his life in detail. Anderson
lived there until he was 14. He also lived on the Nyhawn Canal. To this day, its quaint architect
and shocking colors, it's wooden sailing ships, its outdoor revelers, the Nyhawn Canal is
To be sure, if Hans Christian Anderson were to return today, he'd find few changes in his
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