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 residing beneath have been fully lifted.

Denmark’s choice to develop into the primary European Union member to completely chill out 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 now 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 take pleasure in its understated allure.

A fairy story ending to a darkish chapter? It will definitely 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 creator of classics similar to “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Garments” died almost 150 years in the past, his spirit may be very a lot alive in fashionable Denmark.

And anybody encountering performer Torben Iversen may very well be forgiven for pondering Andersen may be very a lot alive in individual.

Iversen, who can recurrently be discovered dressing and talking like Andersen, together with a band of fairytale fanatics have taken it upon themselves to maintain the creator’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 folks ‘I’m Andersen’. I play Andersen as a result of Andersen mentioned ‘to journey is to reside’. I say to play is to reside. So, that is what I do.”

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Torben Iversen: “At all times 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 world wide. It is again house in Denmark, nevertheless, the place he has chosen to proceed his work, as we speak 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 hold our sense of surprise and creativeness past the early years of childhood.

“I’ll let you know that you simply shall all the time make your personal life a fairytale. For those who keep in mind that, that will probably be a very powerful 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 pondering, 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 on your life.”

A date with a Viking

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Richard Quest discovers his inside 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 have 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 repute which endures to this present day, one which has violence at its coronary heart.

It is a repute that flamboyant artist, designer and photographer Jim Lyngvild is attempting to vary, 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 abilities as a designer imply he is taken issues to the subsequent degree, constructing his personal Viking fortress 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 fortress outdoors Copenhagen.

“My objective right here in life is to not promote, that is the incorrect phrase, however to inform folks 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 happy 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 fortress.


Lyngvild’s extravagant tackle Viking historical past has seen him develop into one in all Denmark’s most famed folks. He wears the garments, he has taken on the non secular 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 provide them an expertise of Danish tradition. It speaks to his singular strategy to displaying off the most effective of Denmark.

“We have now 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,” 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 is probably not 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 Siberia and Greenland, has been blowing up a thousand years of Viking historical past by 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 reality 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 are 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 slightly than a quirk of beginning. These skeletons have been buried utilizing Viking rituals, with the identical swords and shields you’d anticipate finding in Scandinavia.

“Our entire id as Scandinavians… relies on the Viking fantasy. However as a researcher, what’s your objective? Your objective is to search out out what really occurred slightly than ‘what can we imagine occurred or think about occurred.'”

And Eske has one different shock.

“[They] have been much less blonde and blue eyed than Scandinavians are as we speak.”

It appears our preconceptions about this cornerstone of Danish historical past have been effectively and actually 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 repute 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 residing.

Throughout that point, Christiania has develop into identified 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 known as house for 50 years.

So, what makes it so alluring in any case these years?

Tanja Zebell is a very long time resident and stays dedicated to the reason for communal residing and doing issues in a different way. Slipping by 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 allure 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 rebel 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 massive 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 standard Danish bakery, globetrotting Danish correspondent and creator Ulla Terkelsen, is in a reflective temper. Ulla has labored and traveled everywhere in the world, however nonetheless has a deep affection for the place she known as house for the primary 20 years of her life. Like Tanja, she loves this metropolis.

“I feel it’s a very lovely nation. I feel additionally it is a really pragmatic, smart nation,” she says over conventional Weinerbrod.

“If you end up right here, you’re as in case 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 pieces is nice and good. However outdoors the backyard gate, there’s one thing else happening.”

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

That sense is maybe finest summed up within the fairytales which originate from these shores. The security, enchantment and surprise of house, 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 case you go to Copenhagen, you’ll be able to reside fortunately ever after.

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