Copenhagen: The fairytale capital of the world


(CNN) — As soon as upon a time in Scandinavia, a rustic emerged the place the Covid restrictions that many different nations are nonetheless dwelling below had been utterly lifted.

Denmark’s determination to develop into the primary European Union member to totally loosen up Covid-19 guidelines is thanks largely to the profitable means native traditions of samfundssind or “social mindedness” have helped cease the unfold of the virus.

With Covid passes not required to enter eating places and nightclubs, Copenhagen is open and prepared for enterprise, its pleasant residents primed to welcome new and returning guests to get pleasure from its understated appeal.

A fairy story ending to a darkish chapter? It will actually be apt within the Danish capital the place few issues are as central to tradition as fairy tales. Particularly these by Hans Christian Andersen.

A go to to the enchanting homeland of Hans Christian Andersen is certain to reignite one’s creativeness.

Though the writer of classics resembling “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Garments” died practically 150 years in the past, his spirit could be very a lot alive in trendy Denmark.

And anybody encountering performer Torben Iversen could possibly be forgiven for considering Andersen could be very a lot alive in individual.

Iversen, who can commonly be discovered dressing and talking like Andersen, together with a band of fairytale fanatics have taken it upon themselves to maintain the writer’s tales alive for future generations.

“Any person has to behave Andersen, to journey the world to current the tales,” says Iversen, wearing full nineteenth century garb. “I do not say to individuals ‘I’m Andersen’. I play Andersen as a result of Andersen mentioned ‘to journey is to dwell’. I say to play is to dwell. So, that is what I do.”

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Torben Iversen: “All the time make your personal life a fairy story.”


Iversen based the Hans Christian Andersen Parade in 1988 and has taken his present, that includes 20 characters from Andersen’s fairytales, all all over the world. It is again residence in Denmark, nevertheless, the place he has chosen to proceed his work, at the moment conducting particular guided excursions across the Andersen Museum in Odense, west of Copenhagen.

Andersen’s writing and tales are, says Iversen, all about making certain we maintain our sense of marvel and creativeness past the early years of childhood.

“I’ll inform you that you just shall at all times make your personal life a fairytale. If you happen to do not forget that, that might be an important factor.”

The tales, of their steadiness between gentle and darkish, are a part of the human spirit.

“[People] get nutritional vitamins for his or her life, for his or her thoughts, for his or her considering, for his or her coronary heart, for his or her emotions,” says Iversen of Andersen’s work. “That is what artwork is all about, that’s what tradition is all about, nutritional vitamins in your life.”

A date with a Viking

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Richard Quest discovers his interior Viking.


If tales of mermaids, bare emperors and princesses are deep inside Danish tradition, then so too is the lengthy and storied historical past of the Vikings. These marauders had been dominant all through a lot of northern Europe all through the early Center Ages, touring so far as Russia, Greenland and North America. Their pillaging has led to a status which endures to at the present time, one which has violence at its coronary heart.

It is a status that flamboyant artist, designer and photographer Jim Lyngvild is attempting to alter, making an attempt to shift perceptions and showcase the Vikings’ Norse beliefs and pagan rituals.

For Lyngvild, that is private. He’s descended from Viking royalty and has the household tree to show it. However his expertise as a designer imply he is taken issues to the subsequent degree, constructing his personal Viking citadel and even a temple to the Norse gods which is, he says, the primary to be constructed on Scandinavian grounds in a thousand years. It was accomplished in 2016.

Denmark and Vikings are linked in historical past and lore. CNN’s Richard Quest finds himself transported whereas visiting a modern-day Viking citadel exterior Copenhagen.

“My purpose right here in life is to not promote, that is the flawed phrase, however to inform individuals about outdated Norse beliefs and Vikings. And make them much less stereotyped.”

“Vikings have been taken hostage by the stupidest of individuals,” provides Lyngvild. “The Nazis used the symbols… So, I’m torn between being extraordinarily pleased with my inheritance, but in addition being extraordinarily conscious that nothing evil will come from it.”

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Jim Lyngvild lives in his personal Viking citadel.


Lyngvild’s extravagant tackle Viking historical past has seen him develop into one in all Denmark’s most famed individuals. He wears the garments, he has taken on the spiritual beliefs and has created magic round this usually misunderstood a part of Danish historical past. However he has additionally invited Syrian refugees to a reconstructed Iron Age village in Odense to present them an expertise of Danish tradition. It speaks to his singular method to exhibiting off the very best of Denmark.

“We’ve this very conservative, ‘it’s important to do that in a really strict outdated means’ [approach]. However we additionally love the cracks within the canvas the place the wild horses can run by means of,” he says.

Science difficult historical past

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DNA scientist Eske Willerslev has uncovered some surprises about Vikings.


Whereas Lyngvild’s proud tackle Denmark’s Viking historical past is difficult stereotypes, new analysis means that a lot of what we find out about these plunderers and empire builders might not be as concrete as as soon as thought.

Step ahead Eske Willerslev, a DNA scientist and director of the College of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics. Eske, a former adventurer who as soon as led expeditions by means of Siberia and Greenland, has been blowing up a thousand years of Viking historical past by means of his cutting-edge analysis.

His work has proven that Vikings weren’t simply Scandinavians. Evaluation of 400 skeletons from burial websites from throughout Scotland and Greenland has in actual fact discovered that lots of these buried had no Scandinavian genetic historical past, with some being locals and others even having connections to southern Europe and Asia.

“In fact there are Scandinavians, Danes, which can be Vikings, lots of them. However there are additionally Vikings that don’t have any genetic ancestry coming from Scandinavia,” explains Eske.

It seems that Viking was extra of a job description, a lifestyle reasonably than a quirk of start. These skeletons had been buried utilizing Viking rituals, with the identical swords and shields you’d look forward to finding in Scandinavia.

“Our complete identification as Scandinavians… is predicated on the Viking fantasy. However you understand as a researcher, what’s your purpose? Your purpose is to search out out what really occurred reasonably than ‘what can we consider occurred or think about occurred.'”

And Eske has one different shock.

“[They] had been much less blonde and blue eyed than Scandinavians are at the moment.”

It appears our preconceptions about this cornerstone of Danish historical past have been effectively and really blown out of the water.

A rebellious aspect

In a land of long-standing beliefs, even the rule breakers embody the essence of Denmark.

Copenhagen has developed a status internationally for its simplicity, consensus mentality and reasonableness. However that is to not say it would not have a rebellious aspect. And nowhere is that extra in proof than Christiania.

The Danish capital’s well-known freetown dates again to 1971, when a gaggle of free minded settlers broke into the Bådmandsgade navy barracks and arrange what has develop into one of many world’s most well-known experiments in collective dwelling.

Throughout that point, Christiania has develop into recognized for its free and straightforward lifestyle, with critics highlighting points with open drug use and the realm’s hyperlinks with organized crime. Guests are warned to not take footage round its notorious Pusher Avenue, with an inventory of guidelines seen to all those that enter this distinctive nook of Copenhagen.

Since 2011, nevertheless, the realm has been owned by the Basis Freetown Christiania, a gaggle dedicated to defending their lifestyle and the place they’ve referred to as residence for 50 years.

So, what makes it so alluring in spite of everything these years?

Tanja Zebell is a very long time resident and stays dedicated to the reason for communal dwelling and doing issues otherwise. Slipping by means of Christiania’s quiet streets on curler skates, she is an image of the insurgent spirit that also endures right here. She is passionate concerning the commune the place she lives and particularly the artwork which adorn the realm’s partitions. The graffiti, she explains, is all a part of the appeal of the place.

“You have a look at what’s already painted there, and then you definitely ask your self, ‘can I do that higher?’ If the reply is not any, then you’ll not overpaint,” she says, firmly.

This well mannered insurrection is especially Danish in its sensibility. One aspect rebels, the opposite aspect tolerates. One aspect pushes, the opposite aspect acknowledges. It is what goes to make Copenhagen and Denmark at giant such a heat and welcoming place.

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Ulla Terkelsen: “It’s a very lovely nation.”


Within the much less rebellious environment of a conventional Danish bakery, globetrotting Danish correspondent and writer Ulla Terkelsen, is in a reflective temper. Ulla has labored and traveled all around the world, however nonetheless has a deep affection for the place she referred to as residence for the primary 20 years of her life. Like Tanja, she loves this metropolis.

“I believe it’s a very lovely nation. I believe it’s also a really pragmatic, wise nation,” she says over conventional Weinerbrod.

“If you end up right here, you might be as in the event you’ve stepped off the world. The world is harmful and completely different and also you step off it and step into a really fairly backyard. Thoroughly-kept the place all the things is nice and good. However exterior the backyard gate, there’s one thing else occurring.”

Terkelsen says that, as she wanders the gorgeous cobbled streets of her residence metropolis, she grows emotional considering of the connections to household and her previous, tapping right into a wider sense of Copenhagen being a spot to return again to.

That sense is maybe greatest summed up within the fairytales which originate from these shores. The protection, enchantment and marvel of residence, however with a twist within the story, whether or not it is in rebellious Christiania or the brand new science revealing the reality concerning the Vikings and Denmark’s previous. It is truthful to say that in the event you go to Copenhagen, you possibly can dwell fortunately ever after.

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