Odense, Denmark

Denmark’s third largest city is on the island of Funen. Odense is noteworthy as the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. It also has a wonderful blend of historic buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. They are fascinating to explore.

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1 Town Hall or Rådhus in Odense, Denmark

The location of Odense Town Hall has a very long history. The earliest settlement was formed here prior to 988 AD. Circa 1200, the current square became known as Flakhaven. In 1480, this became the site of the first town hall. It was replaced in 1885 by this red brick, Italian Gothic structure. The design was inspired by a town hall in Siena, Italy. The Rådhus still houses many of the city’s municipal offices.

Flakhaven 2, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

2 Hans Christian Andersen Statue in Odense, Denmark

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen wrote over 1,000 poems, 14 novels and about 50 other works during the 19th century. However, he is most famous for his 156 fairy tales that delighted children as much as their parents, including such classics as the Little Mermaid. Several statues, landmarks and museums pay tribute to him throughout his boyhood town of Odense, Denmark.

Hans Christian Andersen Statue 5000 Odense C, Denmark

3 Grey Friars Monastery in Odense, Denmark

An order of Franciscan monks built a monastery in Odense around 1279 on land given to them by King Erik Kippinge. Over the next several centuries, the number of buildings increased to include a hospital and church. This “New Monastery” building opened in 1872. Today, the Greyfriars Abby provides housing for seniors.

Gråbrødre Pl. 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

4 Pastor Emil Koch Relief in Odense, Denmark

This moss-covered relief near the Greyfriars Abbey is a tribute to Emil Koch. He was an influential pastor at the Sankt Knuds Kirke, better known as the Odense Cathedral, and the Franciscan hospital church. He was also a prominent social leader during the early 20th century plus the chairman of the Odense college association.

Gråbrødre Pl. 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

5 First Grand Hotel in Odense, Denmark

The Grand Hotel was aptly named when it was designed in 1895 by architect N. Jacobsen and then opened in the heart of Odense two years later. It was the premier address for visiting dignitaries and local Danes who wanted a beautiful venue for special occasions. After an extensive renovation in 2008, it reopened as the First Grand Hotel … a four star property that maintained its 19th century charm but added 21st century amenities.

Jernbanegade 18, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

6 Funen’s Art Museum in Odense, Denmark

The gorgeous Neo-classical design of Funen’s Art Museum has the appearance of a Greek temple. Among its features are dentil molding outlining the pediment, Corinthian columns and a statue of a robed warrior holding a spear. Also notice the delicate bas-reliefs depicting scenes of Danish history. Fyns Kunstmuseum was built in 1885. Inside are works of art from the 17th century through Danish Modernism.

Jernbanegade 13, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

7 Odense Teater Pediment Reliefs in Odense, Denmark

I was fascinated by the reliefs by Thomas Bærentzen on the arched pediment of the Odense Teater. The half man, half horse figure is a centaur from Greek mythology. Far less common is the female version called a centauride. They are holding a lyre, a harp-like instrument dating back to Greek antiquity. In the center is a nude statue of Veritas, the Roman goddess of truth. Flanking this ensemble are elf-like creatures holding theater masks. The theater was established in 1796 and this building opened in 1914.

Jernbanegade 21, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

8 Odense Cathedral School in Odense, Denmark

When I saw these banners flanking the door of the Odense Cathedral School I was intrigued to learn its history. The Odense Katedralskole was established in 1283 as part of the St. Canute’s Monastery. Its mission was to teach young students subjects such as Latin and Greek in preparation for a life in the clergy. The high school moved into this renaissance building in 1894.

Jernbanegade 34, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

9 Three Teen Students Posing at Cathedral School in Odense, Denmark

After photographing the façade of the Odense Cathedral School, I walked around to its inner courtyard that once was the vegetable garden of the Odense Castle. At that moment, a class of female students from the Odense Cathedral School began walking between buildings. These three teenage girls spontaneously went into modeling poses. After I snapped their photo, they rushed away giggling.

Jernbanegade 34, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

10 Odense Palace in Odense, Denmark

This section of Odense Palace was built in 1723. Yet the history of the property is much older. Portions of Odense Slot date back to the 15th century when it was a monastery run by the Knights of St. John monks. It was confiscated by the king in the early 16th century. As the centuries passed and politics changed, it had several successive occupants. They included Swedish troops, the head of Funen County and King Frederik IV of Denmark who commissioned this addition. Later tenants were a French general, the governor of Funen and then a museum. Today, this Dutch Baroque palace houses administrative offices of the Odense Municipality.

Odense Slot 5000 Odense, Denmark

11 Hans Christian Andersen Trinity Statue in Odense, Denmark

Throughout Odense you will discover fourteen statues depicting some of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tales. So when I saw this sculpture across from the train station in Banegårdspladsen, I assumed it was part of the series. In fact The Trinity, by artist Bjørn Nøgaard, is an intertwined portrait of the famous Danish author as The Shadow, The Improviser and The Traveling Companion.

Østre Stationsvej 8, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

12 Old Train Station now Music Library in Odense, Denmark

This red brick building opened in 1914 as the second train station for the citizens of Odense. After it was replaced in 1995 by the Odense Banegård Center, it became the home of the Music Library. It has an enormous collection including nearly 100,000 albums, 23,000 music books and over ten million files available for research. The Musikbibliotek is part of the Odense Central Library.

Østre Stationsvej 33, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

13 Concert Hall for Symphony Orchestra in Odense, Denmark

The Odense Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1946 and currently conducts about 100 concerts a year. Since 1982 they have performed at the Odense Koncerthus in the Carl Nielsen Hall. This 1,200 person capacity venue was named in honor of Carl August Nielsen. He was born near Odense in 1865 and went on to have an illustrious career as a composer and conductor.

Claus Bergs Gade 9, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

14 Østerbye’s Farm House in Odense, Denmark

This yellow half-timbered building dates back to 1631. Notice the emblems above the large door. On the left are the initials CR which stands for the original, 17th century owner Christen Rasmussen. The monogram on the right represents his wife. In 1857 it became the Osterbyes Gård or farm house. Since 1947, this historic complex on Sortebrødre Torv has been part of the Møntergården Museum.

Møntestræde 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

15 Møntergården Museum in Odense, Denmark

If you want a flavor of what Denmark looked like during the Middle Ages, then head towards the Møntergården Museum. This is its namesake building on a street named Overgade. The red brick, half-timbered farm structure with ornate rosettes was built in 1646 by nobleman Falk Gøye. The structure was restored in 1930 and became a museum in 1941. Inside are numerous exhibits tracing Odense’s history back to its founding in 988. Also on display is the Koelbjerg Man. These skeletal remains are from ancient Denmark circa 8000 BC.

Overgade 48 5000 Odense C, Denmark

16 Church of Our Lady in Odense, Denmark

According to their website, the Church of Our Lady has the longest history of any church in the Old Town of Odense. This handsome, Romanesque structure was built around 1250 after Benedictine monks taught the locals how to create red bricks. Adjacent to the Vor Frue Kirke is a former Latin school that dates back to the early 16th century.

Kirkestræde 10, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

17 Den Gamle Kro Restaurant in Odense, Denmark

This half-timbered building along Overgade street was built in 1683. Inside you will find a warm and charming setting reminiscent of an old Danish inn. The highly-rated Den Gamle Kro specializes in traditional Danish food plus some French entrées. Although it is a bit pricy, the ambiance, service and taste of Denmark make it an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.

Overgade 23, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

18 Hans Christian Andersen Mural in Odense, Denmark

Odense is rightfully proud of its favorite native son, Hans Christian Andersen. One of the delightful aspects of the city is you can literally follow in the footsteps of this famous author; they are imbedded along the cobblestone streets which lead you from one landmark to the next. Along the way you will see this 39 foot, black and white mural by Don John located at Bangs Boder 24 near the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. It appears to be copy of a photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl from 1860 when the author was about 55 years old.

Bangs Boder 24 5000 Odense C, Denmark

19 Colorful Houses on Bangs Boder in Odense, Denmark

Most visitors to Odense rush to see the one bedroom house where Hans Christian Anderson was born. But in their haste, they often fail to appreciate the surrounding row houses along the cobblestone streets like these on Bangs Boder. This is the Old Quarter of the city. These colorful homes appear much like they did when the famous fairy-tale author was born in 1805.

Bangs Boder 13-15 5000 Odense C, Denmark

20 Hans Christian Andersen Birth House in Odense, Denmark

Fans of author H. C. Andersen will enjoy visiting two of his former residences in Odense. This modest yellow house is where he was born in 1805. It is easy to miss if you are not watching for it at the intersection of Hans Jensens Stræde and Bangs Boder. His childhood home, where he lived from the age of two until he became a teenager, is located a short distance away.

Hans Jensens Stræde, 5000 Odense, Denmark

21 Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense, Denmark

The Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense has wonderful exhibits and displays about Denmark’s favorite poet and author, including a collection of his paper cutouts and drawings. The museum was established in 1905 on the anniversary of the writer’s birth. However, because of his increasing popularity and the growing number of visitors, the museum expanded into this building in 1930 and has been enlarged several times.

Bangs Boder 29, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

22 Medieval Cellar Ruin in Odense, Denmark

The Danish town of Odense means Odin’s sanctuary or temple: the place of worship to the Germanic god named Odin. Although people may have lived here during the Stone Age, its first documented reference was in 988. This cellar is the ruins of a merchant house that was built in 1420. After it was unearthed during the construction of new building, it was raised and preserved.

Albani Torv 11 5000 Odense C, Denmark

23 Profile of St. Alban’s Church in Odense, Denmark

This Roman Catholic church in Odense, Denmark is named after Saint Alban. While a Roman British soldier during the third or fourth century, he was beheaded because of his Christian beliefs. Some historians speculate his martyrdom was fabricated by Germanus of Auxerre, a bishop during the early 5th century. Nonetheless, Saint Alban remains as the patron saint of refugees and converts.

Adelgade 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

24 Spire of St. Alban’s Church in Odense, Denmark

This photo was taken along a long boulevard called Sankt Knuds Plads. It shows the spectacular spire of St. Alban’s Church which soars 177 feet in the center of Odense, Denmark. It is sometimes confused with the St. Alban’s Church were Canute IV of Denmark was killed in 1086. That historic site was near here but no longer exists. This St. Alban’s Church was built in a neo-gothic style in 1908.

Adelgade 1, 5000 Odense C, Denmark

25 St. Canute’s Cathedral in Odense, Denmark

When Canute IV of Denmark was murdered in 1086 by a revolting crowd of peasants, a church was constructed on this site for the burial of the Viking king. He was canonized as a saint in 1101. After that church burned in 1247, it took more than two hundred years to construct the current St. Canute’s Cathedral. It was finally finished in 1499. Saint Canute’s crypt is located within one of the Odense Domkirke’s chapels.

Klosterbakken 2, 5000 Odense C, Denmark