Like so many towns in the country, Odense Denmark is brimming with provincial charm. While Copenhagen may lay its claim as the cultural and historic center of the country, and Roskilde might have the best festivals and Billund features the Legoland Theme Park, Odense is well known as the Danish city that many travelers call their favorite. The capital of Fyn, the city is most famous as the hometown of author Hans Christian Anderson. While he is celebrated at length in murals and festivals and landmarks named in his honor, Odense Denmark has grown up fine without him.
The city is hardly a metropolis – the buildings are small but compact, many adorned with aged roof tiles and constructed of monochromatic brick. The Skt Knuds Church is the main cultural landmark here, an imposing cathedral housing the remains of King Knud II, who ruled in the 11th century before being murdered in Odense. Most of the city’s main attractions are surrounded by leisurely parks and half-hearted meadows. The home of Hans Christian Anderson is one of the city"s top attractions - though is legacy is clear throughout all of Denmark, most notably in the famed Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen harbor - bringing in thousands of visitors despite its cramped quarters.
Energy is at the heart of Odense Denmark"s tourist industry. The city’s university is fairly new, but wasted little time in moving to forefront of Denmark’s higher education. Thus it is the large student population that has allowed the city to grow to the third largest in the country, and instilled Odense with a palpable and exciting energy that swirls down its crooked cobblestone streets and over the bridges before dispersing into the open sea air.
The home - and legend - of Hans Christian Anderson is not the only thing bringing tourists to the city, but also the Odense Zoo. The zoo is one of the largest and most popular of its kind in Europe, as zookeepers and designers have gone well out of their way to offer a unique experience to tourists. One of Odense Zoo"s main attractions is the enormous (nearly four hectares in size) area where a reproduction of an African nature reserve has been painstakingly constructed. It consists of both savannah and marshland and is home to lions, monkeys, zebras, ostriches and other large African birds. The Odense Zoo’s aquarium is also one of the largest in Europe.
The city is also home to a thriving music scene – steeped in the history of Danish folk music, Odense has a number of outdoor concerts during the summer months, sometimes playing until the dwindling rays of twilight have disappeared. Traditional music takes on a whole other meaning when it is heard in the streets of Odense, a town that seems at once captured in the past and looking towards the future.