Saturday, September 10, 2011

DENMARK: AARHUS

I loved Denmark.  Of all the Scandinavian countries, I think it is the one in which I would most like to live. Supposedly it has the world's highest level of income equality, and it is often ranked as the happiest and least corrupt country in the world.  One of the things that struck me was the number of private homes (as opposed to large apartment buildings).  I took this video through the bus window while our guide sang the Danish national anthem.  We were driving out of the city and into the country, and I think it provides a good view of the homes in what seemed to be a typical neighborhood:

(Apparently the Danes have just as much trouble singing their national anthem as we Americans have with ours.)

Aarhus is on the peninsula part of Denmark (Copenhagen is on one of the islands), and is the second largest city in the country.  The city itself has about 250,000 people, but with all the suburbs, there are about 1.2 million. It did not feel like a huge metropolis, especially when just minutes outside the city, we were seeing this:
We drove about an hour outside Aarhus to visit Rosenholm Castle (also called Rosenkrantz Castle):
 
Have you ever wondered what a Danish-style McDonald's would look like? Here you go:

 We spent several hours in Den Gamle By, a recreated historic village in Aarhus that reminded me of Pioneer Village in Salt Lake City. It was like being in Solvang, California, but a LOT better:
 Wherever we go, somehow we always manage to find a good bakery:
I especially loved the shop signs:



Typical of so many of today's European cities, a canal runs through the village:

The guy in red having a friendly chat with the local clergyman just happens to be my sister's Stake President (and part of our group):

Back in Aarhus, I noticed some advertising on the theater for a play about a very famous Dane:
Our last stop was the Aarhus Cathedral, the tallest and longest church in Denmark.  Like so many of the early cathedrals, the first version was destroyed by fire in the 14th Century and later rebuilt.  This version was completed around 1500. It is dedicated to St. Clemens, the patron saint of sailors:
This scale model gives a better idea of the relative length and height.
SOARING ceilings:
Several ships hang suspended on long cables from the ceiling, strangely adrift in an ocean of air:

And as always, there was a breathtakingly beautiful organ above the door:

I always love St. George and the Dragon:
. . . and other than the creepy skull imagery similar to what we saw in Lubeck:
 

. . . I really enjoyed the art, especially the figures with their droll, country bumpkin appearances:
 
 

And who doesn't love a gentleman with a curly wig?

After all these pictures, I want to include one last story that our guide told us about the saving of the Danish Jews during World War II.  Denmark surrendered to the Nazis in April 1940.  At that time there were 8,000 Jews in Denmark who had enjoyed full and equal citizenship since 1814.  A common saying was, "We have no Danish Jews, only Danish people."  During the occupation, they never wore a yellow star as they did in other parts of Europe.  When persecution began, the Jews were hid in Christian homes and later smuggled to Sweden.  If they were captured, they were tracked by the Danish government, fed, and eventually liberated.  Miraculously, Denmark was able to save all but 400 of their Jews.  Our guide said, "A nation is not just about what it does; a nation is also what it tolerates."   That is great food for thought, isn't it? 

While I'm on the subject of food, somehow a post always seems more complete when it ends with a picture of one of our meals.  This plate is a fish-lover's dream.

3 comments:

  1. Of all the places we visited, the place I would like most to have spent more time was Aarhus. I have not checked yet, but I am really hoping I have some Danish blood in me (I'm pretty sure I do). I really loved the country.

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  2. Looks like a beautiful and fascinating city! And I should seriously travel with you two, because I would come back skinnier than I started...

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  3. Oh, I love Aarhus, as well as Copenhagen. If you have a chance to go back, going during the Jazz festival makes the city feel complete. It adds a wonderful soundtrack. The food looks delicious!

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