Top attractions in Odense for history geeks

Photo: Den Fynske Landsby

Do you love history? Getting to know what made a city to what it is today? Or just getting to know the historical scandals? Odense has plenty of history for you to snoop around, and perhaps learn a bit or two about the Danish culture and history.

Dating more than 1000 years back, Odense have been an interesting city from day one. Despite its size, Odense was first mentioned in 988, and at this time it was a bishopric, making it a large city for its time.
Trough out history, Odense have had a strong connection to superstation, believes and the history of Denmark.

In Odense it is possible to travel back in time, and experience important parts of the collective Danish history.

The Norse Mythology and Iron Age

Starting your time travel in the Iron Age, with a visit in Odins Odense. Travel back to the years 500 BC to 1100 AD and experience the life in the Iron Age and Viking Age.

Life in Denmark was tough back then, the struggle with finding and producing food was difficult and they had to fight other people, who were looking for new and richer areas to settle.

The Danes knew that there was a higher power, so they worshiped the Gods from the Norse Mythology. In Odense, especially Odin, the ruler was worshiped, as out city name translated means “Odin’s shrine”.

Explore the small village, visit the blacksmith to perhaps learn some old crafts or go to the sacrificial site, to honour Odin and the old Norse Gods.

Meet the last Danish Viking King

During the Viking Age, Denmark was quite the Kingdom, not only did the Vikings rule Denmark, but also parts of Sweden and England, as a result of the many raids. Time made the number of raids degrease, and Denmark became Christians.

King Canute was a very Christian King, but still very much a Viking at heart, as his biggest desire was to rule England.

Sadly, his greed for more land started a peasant revolt that cased him through the country.

When Canute reached Odense, he when inside a church to seek Gods protection. Little did it help, as he were killed moments later. Miracles happened at Canute’s grave, and he became an important figure in the Danish Royal Family when he was recognised as a saint.

Perhaps you will experience a miracle when you visit Canute the Holy’s remains in the Cathedral, Saint Canute Church.

From rags to riches – to rags

After Canute was recognised as a saint, the number of monasteries and churches grew, all wanted to be close to the royal saint. Odense grew, and not only did the many religious institutions attract outside visitors to the city, but several Danish Royals have visited the city, some even lived here.

The city had a great period of growth, especially with trades as many of the city’s merchants earned lots of money. This resulted in lots of new buildings, some of which you can still see today.

Good times do not last, and the city went through some harsh years after the war against Sweden. Many fled the city, and several of the well-established businesses closed.

Visit Møntergården our City Museum, to learn much more about Odense history and how the city became the third largest in Denmark. If you go for a stroll, make sure to go past old town and area around the Møntergården museum to see some of the old buildings. Take a detour past the Saint Hans Church with the outside pulpit and Odense Castle.

Fresh air in the countryside and smoke and steam in the city

Everything is great out in the countryside, at least that was the message of the Golden Age. Many Danish values come from developments that happened during the 1800s, both within democracy, education and technology.

During the 1800s most people lived in the countryside, working as farmers, kitchen helpers or similar manual labour, and this time, most of once day was filled with hard work.

Industrialisation finally reached Odense during the 1800s, and with the new canal, Odense truly

became a market town. People moved from the countryside and into the city, which made Odense double in size. Business was growing, a new railway was made, and new living areas was created to house all the new workers in the city.

Travel back to a village from the 1800s, perhaps learn a new craft or talk with a minister’s wife, when visiting the Funen Village. The original houses give you an idea of how people lived, and how life truly was back in the day.

Staying in the city centre, you can still catch a feeling on the industrialisation in the area around the old clothing factory Brandts.

Still making history

Despite having many ups and downs through history, to this day, Odense is still making history.

Some fractions of the old Odense are still showing here and there, but the new Odense becoming a larger part of the city’s narrative. Odense is one of the best cities in Denmark for start-ups, innovation is more than welcome and the industry for robotics, drones, medical cannabis and health tech is blooming.

Walking in the city centre, the city’s ambition is clear. In the 1960s a four-lane rod was built through the city centre to accommodate the growth in cars, but today we are going in a new direction. The road is closed and are being transformed into living spaces, businesses, green areas and a new Hans Christian Andersen museum.

Experience history in Odense, both old and new.