I landed at Copenhagen and caught a train to Aarhus. Aarhus (Pronounced Owhoos) is the second largest city of Denmark. Denmark being an archipelago, the trains traverses bridges across the sea.The countryside is interesting with gently sloping farmlands dotted with windmills. Considering the windy weather, its no wonder that 20%-30% of the power in Denmark is sourced from wind.
Aarhus is an interesting mix of old culture and the strong vibrancy of youth and immigrant population owing to its universities and many educational institutions.The streets are broad and lined with houses built with red bricks and sloping roofs. While walking in Denmark, being aware of the cyclist lane is one of the foremost things for a tourist.Denmark is a country of cyclists and you can see Danes cycling even in windy and cold weather. Danes are sturdy people reminiscent of their Viking heritage and they strongly value their personal space and individual freedom.
Since I was staying with friends, food was home cooked and delicious, but on the rare occasions I did eat out, I managed to sample the only vegetarian open sandwich, the ‘Rugbrod’ bread and Danish pastries.
We traveled extensively by bus which is an excellent means of transport in Aarhus.Each ride costs 14 Kroner which covers all rides taken within the next 2 hours.
During my stay I visited the ARoS Museum which had an interesting mix of contemporary as well as fine art pieces of Danish Art from the Golden ages.
The statue of the ‘Boy’ built by the Australian sculptor Ron Mueck is a sight to be seen. It’s five meters tall and is made of silicone and fiber glass. The posture, of course is quintessentially Indian ! Another interesting attraction at the museum was a concept called ‘The 9 spaces’. These are 9 rooms which are painted black and host installations with spectacular imagery.I was captivated by the work of Bill Viola which consisted of five projections consisting of slow motion sequences in a dark room. The work thematises terms such as birth, death and rebirth.It was great to see art defying all concepts of its hitherto defined boundaries.
I saw the Aarhus Cathedral which is the tallest in Denmark with its construction starting in the late 12th century. Fresco paintings on its walls date from 1470 to 1520. A ship’s model hangs from its ceiling and is thought to represent man’s sail from cradle to grave.The ship is a very common custom in Denmark and acts as a reminder of those lost at sea. This particular one was interestingly rescued intact from a ship wreck which was heading to the Russian Tsar Peter the Great.
Right next to the Cathedral was a women’s museum which outlined the lives of women in Denmark.Women in Denmark enjoy equality in all spheres with majority of them working.The driving force behind this was the Women’s rights movement of the 1970’s and prior to that was the role women played during the times of war. The times of World war, though one of the worst times in history, interestingly propelled women to center stage in various parts of the western world. The museum offered an interesting way to chart the life of women in the 18th/19th centuries by allowing them to treasure hunt the artifacts related to a particular girl child and piecing together the life she lived.
A visit to Aarhus can not be complete without a visit to the famous Dem Gamble By (The Old Town). Its an open air museum with houses and streets rebuilt from an old era.It showcases houses from the 17th/18th centuries including a mayor’s house, a mintmaster’s house and several shops.
My stay in Copenhagen, though for only a day, was packed.We took a canal ride which covered the historical buildings of Copenhagen.
Though many were noteworthy, I was most inclined to see ‘The Little Memaid’ statue. It was much smaller than I had thought but the statue was still very beautiful inspite of the ludicrous acts of vandalism committed on it which included decapitation of its head, knocking it off with explosives and pouring paint on it !
We visited the famous Rosenborg and Amelienborg castles. Built by King Christian IV, Rosenborg palace’s treasures and royal regalia are breath taking. Each room is a sight to behold and one can see ceilings and paneling in Renaissance style, Flemish tapestries, Baroque furnishings, the Royal Thrones, tableware of Royal porcelain and venetian glass. The treasure room is another storehouse of collections which included the royal crown,scepter, precious jewellery, intricate statues made of ivory and other regalia.
My last stop was the Staten Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) where I lost myself in the maze of French, European and Danish paintings.A lot of heavy weights including Picasso, Rembrandt are featured here but my personal favorites were the Ruben’s paintings.
———————-My visit to Portugal to be continued in the next post————- >>