Denmark’s Vikings created great states, Normandy and eventually Norman England, and the Kingdom of Sicily. Far from savage marauders, they were highly organised traders and agriculturalists. Roskilde’s Viking Ship museum has five fine ships retrieved by archaeologists and Copenhagen’s National Museum has a wealth of exhibits, including vast hordes of coins and other valuables.
Denmark’s Renaissance monarchy wrested power from the Hanseatic League and at times ruled the whole Baltic. Renaissance Rosenborg palace, outside Copenhagen, has well preserved, highly decorated rooms. Christiansborg Palace (1907-1928) in the centre of this sophisticated city, is a Neo-Baroque masterpiece by the great Danish architect Thorvald Jørgensen. Copenhagen’s Royal Library possesses a fine collection of rare books, manuscripts, letters and a Gutenberg Bible. It also preserves philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s notes and Hans Christian Andersen’s diaries.
Outside Copenhagen, the Renaissance Kronborg Castle, Hamlet’s ‘Elsinore’ (Helsingør), is vast and highly decorated. It is one of Northern Europe’s most important castles. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on Øresund Sound is a milestone in modern Danish architecture. It holds an extensive collection of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso. Artists also include Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, and Jean Arp. Funen Village is an open-air museum with 25 buildings, most from the 18th and 19th century.
Hans Christian Andersen’s birthplace, Odense, has his childhood home and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. Count Ludvig Holstein invited Anderson to Holsteinborg Castle. His preserved rooms here feature the desk at which he wrote travelogues, essays, letters and some of his best-loved tales. Designed by Edvard Eriksen, Copenhagen’s most famous statue, depicts Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, perched on a waterside rock. Rungstedlund, birthplace of Karen Blixen, was the home to which she returned after 17 years in Kenya. Here she wrote Out of Africa, Babette’s Feast, essays and short stories.
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