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Copenhagen: The fairytale capital of the world

(CNN) — After upon a time in Scandinavia, a place emerged wherever the Covid limitations that quite a few other nations are even now residing less than were absolutely lifted.

Denmark’s final decision to develop into the 1st European Union member to entirely unwind Covid-19 regulations is thanks in massive component to the profitable way local traditions of samfundssind or “social mindedness” have aided end the spread of the virus.

With Covid passes no extended necessary to enter dining places and nightclubs, Copenhagen is open and completely ready for business, its friendly citizens primed to welcome new and returning website visitors to delight in its understated allure.

A fairy tale ending to a dim chapter? It would unquestionably be apt in the Danish cash exactly where couple of issues are as central to culture as fairy tales. Especially those people by Hans Christian Andersen.

A stop by to the enchanting homeland of Hans Christian Andersen is absolutely sure to reignite one’s creativity.

Whilst the author of classics this sort of as “The Tiny Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Outfits” died nearly 150 decades back, his spirit is really much alive in fashionable Denmark.

And any person encountering performer Torben Iversen could be forgiven for considering Andersen is quite a great deal alive in individual.

Iversen, who can often be uncovered dressing and talking like Andersen, together with a band of fairytale enthusiasts have taken it on themselves to preserve the author’s stories alive for future generations.

“Any person has to act Andersen, to travel the planet to existing the tales,” claims Iversen, dressed in complete 19th century garb. “I you should not say to persons ‘I am Andersen’. I enjoy Andersen because Andersen reported ‘to vacation is to live’. I say to participate in is to dwell. So, that is what I do.”

Torben Iversen: “Constantly make your have lifetime a fairy tale.”


Iversen launched the Hans Christian Andersen Parade in 1988 and has taken his exhibit, featuring 20 people from Andersen’s fairytales, all around the world. It’s back home in Denmark, however, wherever he has picked out to proceed his get the job done, now conducting distinctive guided excursions all around the Andersen Museum in Odense, west of Copenhagen.

Andersen’s crafting and tales are, says Iversen, all about guaranteeing we retain our sense of wonder and creativity past the early years of childhood.

“I will convey to you that you shall always make your have lifetime a fairytale. If you try to remember that, that will be the most crucial matter.”

The tales, in their equilibrium between light-weight and dark, are portion of the human spirit.

“[People] get nutritional vitamins for their existence, for their mind, for their pondering, for their heart, for their emotions,” says Iversen of Andersen’s function. “Which is what artwork is all about, that is what tradition is all about, vitamins for your lifestyle.”

A day with a Viking

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Richard Quest discovers his internal Viking.


If tales of mermaids, bare emperors and princesses are deep in just Danish tradition, then so also is the lengthy and storied heritage of the Vikings. These marauders ended up dominant all over a great deal of northern Europe in the course of the early Middle Ages, traveling as considerably as Russia, Greenland and North The us. Their pillaging has led to a name which endures to this day, a person which has violence at its coronary heart.

It’s a name that flamboyant artist, designer and photographer Jim Lyngvild is trying to improve, making an attempt to shift perceptions and showcase the Vikings’ Norse beliefs and pagan rituals.

For Lyngvild, this is particular. He is descended from Viking royalty and has the household tree to show it. But his competencies as a designer mean he’s taken factors to the next level, developing his possess Viking castle and even a temple to the Norse gods which is, he states, the first to be developed on Scandinavian grounds in a thousand years. It was completed in 2016.

Denmark and Vikings are joined in record and lore. CNN’s Richard Quest finds himself transported although viewing a modern-day-working day Viking castle outside Copenhagen.

“My target here in lifestyle is to not promote, which is the improper phrase, but to tell persons about outdated Norse beliefs and Vikings. And make them considerably less stereotyped.”

“Vikings have been taken hostage by the stupidest of individuals,” adds Lyngvild. “The Nazis utilised the symbols… So, I am torn concerning currently being very happy of my inheritance, but also being very aware that almost nothing evil will arrive from it.”

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Jim Lyngvild life in his personal Viking castle.


Lyngvild’s extravagant get on Viking heritage has found him come to be one particular of Denmark’s most renowned persons. He wears the outfits, he has taken on the religious beliefs and has developed magic all over this frequently misunderstood portion of Danish heritage. But he has also invited Syrian refugees to a reconstructed Iron Age village in Odense to give them an encounter of Danish culture. It speaks to his singular method to exhibiting off the very best of Denmark.

“We have this pretty conservative, ‘you have to do this in a pretty stringent old way’ [approach]. But we also really like the cracks in the canvas in which the wild horses can operate by means of,” he states.

Science challenging heritage

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DNA scientist Eske Willerslev has uncovered some surprises about Vikings.


Even though Lyngvild’s proud acquire on Denmark’s Viking record is complicated stereotypes, new exploration implies that considerably of what we know about these plunderers and empire builders could not be as concrete as when believed.

Stage ahead Eske Willerslev, a DNA scientist and director of the College of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics. Eske, a previous adventurer who once led expeditions via Siberia and Greenland, has been blowing up a thousand several years of Viking background by his slicing-edge investigate.

His work has proven that Vikings were not just Scandinavians. Examination of 400 skeletons from burial web sites from throughout Scotland and Greenland has in fact found that numerous of all those buried experienced no Scandinavian genetic record, with some becoming locals and many others even possessing connections to southern Europe and Asia.

“Of study course there are Scandinavians, Danes, that are Vikings, several of them. But there are also Vikings that have no genetic ancestry coming from Scandinavia,” points out Eske.

It appears that Viking was far more of a occupation description, a way of existence relatively than a quirk of start. These skeletons ended up buried using Viking rituals, with the exact swords and shields you’d anticipate to find in Scandinavia.

“Our full identity as Scandinavians… is based mostly on the Viking fantasy. But you know as a researcher, what is your purpose? Your objective is to find out what basically took place relatively than ‘what do we believe that took place or envision occurred.'”

And Eske has just one other surprise.

“[They] were being a lot less blonde and blue eyed than Scandinavians are currently.”

It would seem our preconceptions about this cornerstone of Danish historical past have been properly and truly blown out of the water.

A rebellious aspect

In a land of lengthy-standing ideals, even the rule breakers embody the essence of Denmark.

Copenhagen has designed a track record internationally for its simplicity, consensus mentality and reasonableness. But that is not to say it doesn’t have a rebellious aspect. And nowhere is that additional in evidence than Christiania.

The Danish capital’s famous freetown dates back again to 1971, when a team of absolutely free minded settlers broke into the Bådmandsgade military barracks and set up what has become one of the world’s most renowned experiments in collective dwelling.

In the course of that time, Christiania has grow to be recognised for its totally free and quick strategy to daily life, with critics highlighting challenges with open up drug use and the area’s backlinks with structured criminal offense. People are warned not to take pics all over its infamous Pusher Avenue, with a list of rules visible to all individuals who enter this distinctive corner of Copenhagen.

Since 2011, nevertheless, the region has been owned by the Foundation Freetown Christiania, a group dedicated to preserving their way of lifestyle and the position they have identified as home for 50 decades.

So, what tends to make it so alluring soon after all these years?

Tanja Zebell is a lengthy time resident and remains committed to the lead to of communal residing and performing things in a different way. Slipping by means of Christiania’s peaceful streets on roller skates, she is a picture of the rebel spirit that still endures listed here. She is passionate about the commune the place she life and particularly the artwork which adorn the area’s walls. The graffiti, she describes, is all portion of the charm of the place.

“You seem at what is now painted there, and then you check with oneself, ‘can I do this greater?’ If the respond to is no, then you will not overpaint,” she says, firmly.

This polite rebellion is particularly Danish in its sensibility. Just one side rebels, the other facet tolerates. One particular facet pushes, the other aspect acknowledges. It is really what goes to make Copenhagen and Denmark at significant this sort of a heat and welcoming put.

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Ulla Terkelsen: “It is a incredibly wonderful nation.”


In the significantly less rebellious surroundings of a conventional Danish bakery, globetrotting Danish correspondent and writer Ulla Terkelsen, is in a reflective mood. Ulla has labored and traveled all over the environment, but still has a deep affection for the position she called house for the initially 20 a long time of her life. Like Tanja, she loves this city.

“I feel it is a quite lovely state. I consider it is also a pretty pragmatic, wise place,” she says around standard Weinerbrod.

“When you are listed here, you are as if you have stepped off the planet. The globe is dangerous and different and you phase off it and phase into a very really backyard garden. Very properly-held the place almost everything is sweet and awesome. But outdoors the backyard gate, you can find some thing else heading on.”

Terkelsen claims that, as she wanders the fairly cobbled streets of her household town, she grows psychological thinking of the connections to household and her earlier, tapping into a broader sense of Copenhagen staying a location to arrive back to.

That sense is potentially finest summed up in the fairytales which originate from these shores. The protection, enchantment and wonder of residence, but with a twist in the tale, no matter if it’s in rebellious Christiania or the new science revealing the fact about the Vikings and Denmark’s previous. It is good to say that if you visit Copenhagen, you can are living fortunately ever just after.

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