Copenhagen: The fairytale capital of the world

(CNN) — At the time upon a time in Scandinavia, a nation emerged where by the Covid constraints that many other nations are nevertheless dwelling less than ended up completely lifted.

Denmark’s choice to become the initial European Union member to totally unwind Covid-19 policies is many thanks in huge portion to the effective way regional traditions of samfundssind or “social mindedness” have served prevent the distribute of the virus.

With Covid passes no longer required to enter eating places and nightclubs, Copenhagen is open up and all set for small business, its friendly citizens primed to welcome new and returning readers to love its understated appeal.

A fairy tale ending to a dim chapter? It would surely be apt in the Danish capital exactly where couple items are as central to tradition as fairy tales. Specifically these by Hans Christian Andersen.

A take a look at to the enchanting homeland of Hans Christian Andersen is absolutely sure to reignite one’s creativeness.

Though the writer of classics this kind of as “The Tiny Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” died nearly 150 a long time in the past, his spirit is really significantly alive in modern Denmark.

And everyone encountering performer Torben Iversen could be forgiven for wondering Andersen is incredibly considerably alive in person.

Iversen, who can often be located dressing and talking like Andersen, alongside with a band of fairytale fanatics have taken it on them selves to maintain the author’s stories alive for long run generations.

“Anyone has to act Andersen, to journey the world to existing the tales,” suggests Iversen, dressed in total 19th century garb. “I never say to individuals ‘I am Andersen’. I engage in Andersen due to the fact Andersen explained ‘to journey is to live’. I say to participate in is to are living. So, that is what I do.”

Torben Iversen: “Usually make your personal everyday living a fairy tale.”


Iversen started the Hans Christian Andersen Parade in 1988 and has taken his demonstrate, featuring 20 figures from Andersen’s fairytales, all close to the planet. It really is again property in Denmark, even so, in which he has decided on to carry on his get the job done, currently conducting specific guided excursions all-around the Andersen Museum in Odense, west of Copenhagen.

Andersen’s composing and stories are, suggests Iversen, all about guaranteeing we hold our sense of ponder and creativeness over and above the early years of childhood.

“I will inform you that you shall generally make your individual daily life a fairytale. If you bear in mind that, that will be the most vital issue.”

The tales, in their harmony in between light and darkish, are component of the human spirit.

“[People] get vitamins for their lifestyle, for their intellect, for their thinking, for their coronary heart, for their emotions,” says Iversen of Andersen’s work. “Which is what art is all about, that is what tradition is all about, natural vitamins for your lifetime.”

A day with a Viking

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Richard Quest discovers his interior Viking.


If tales of mermaids, naked emperors and princesses are deep in Danish society, then so way too is the extended and storied background of the Vikings. These marauders ended up dominant through a lot of northern Europe during the early Middle Ages, touring as significantly as Russia, Greenland and North The us. Their pillaging has led to a reputation which endures to this working day, a person which has violence at its heart.

It is a name that flamboyant artist, designer and photographer Jim Lyngvild is hoping to adjust, trying to change perceptions and showcase the Vikings’ Norse beliefs and pagan rituals.

For Lyngvild, this is individual. He is descended from Viking royalty and has the household tree to verify it. But his skills as a designer necessarily mean he is taken points to the upcoming level, building his own Viking castle and even a temple to the Norse gods which is, he claims, the to start with to be crafted on Scandinavian grounds in a thousand many years. It was done in 2016.

Denmark and Vikings are linked in background and lore. CNN’s Richard Quest finds himself transported although visiting a contemporary-working day Viking castle outside Copenhagen.

“My objective in this article in existence is to not promote, which is the completely wrong word, but to explain to people about old Norse beliefs and Vikings. And make them less stereotyped.”

“Vikings have been taken hostage by the stupidest of people today,” provides Lyngvild. “The Nazis employed the symbols… So, I am torn amongst becoming particularly happy of my inheritance, but also becoming extremely knowledgeable that very little evil will come from it.”

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Jim Lyngvild lives in his individual Viking castle.


Lyngvild’s extravagant just take on Viking background has seen him become one particular of Denmark’s most renowned people. He wears the clothing, he has taken on the spiritual beliefs and has made magic all around this frequently misunderstood part of Danish heritage. But he has also invited Syrian refugees to a reconstructed Iron Age village in Odense to give them an knowledge of Danish society. It speaks to his singular technique to displaying off the best of Denmark.

“We have this quite conservative, ‘you have to do this in a very demanding outdated way’ [approach]. But we also love the cracks in the canvas where by the wild horses can run by,” he says.

Science tough history

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DNA scientist Eske Willerslev has uncovered some surprises about Vikings.


When Lyngvild’s proud just take on Denmark’s Viking record is complicated stereotypes, new analysis suggests that significantly of what we know about these plunderers and empire builders may well not be as concrete as after believed.

Stage ahead Eske Willerslev, a DNA scientist and director of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics. Eske, a former adventurer who at the time led expeditions through Siberia and Greenland, has been blowing up a thousand years of Viking historical past through his slicing-edge investigation.

His perform has revealed that Vikings weren’t just Scandinavians. Examination of 400 skeletons from burial sites from across Scotland and Greenland has in point discovered that several of those buried experienced no Scandinavian genetic record, with some getting locals and others even getting connections to southern Europe and Asia.

“Of course there are Scandinavians, Danes, that are Vikings, a lot of of them. But there are also Vikings that have no genetic ancestry coming from Scandinavia,” explains Eske.

It seems that Viking was extra of a task description, a way of lifetime rather than a quirk of start. These skeletons ended up buried applying Viking rituals, with the similar swords and shields you’d hope to come across in Scandinavia.

“Our whole identity as Scandinavians… is primarily based on the Viking myth. But you know as a researcher, what is your purpose? Your objective is to uncover out what actually transpired instead than ‘what do we believe that transpired or consider happened.'”

And Eske has one other shock.

“[They] were much less blonde and blue eyed than Scandinavians are nowadays.”

It appears our preconceptions about this cornerstone of Danish history have been very well and really blown out of the water.

A rebellious facet

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

Copenhagen has designed a track record internationally for its simplicity, consensus mentality and reasonableness. But which is not to say it doesn’t have a rebellious aspect. And nowhere is that more in proof than Christiania.

The Danish capital’s renowned freetown dates again to 1971, when a group of free of charge minded settlers broke into the Bådmandsgade army barracks and set up what has develop into a person of the world’s most popular experiments in collective dwelling.

During that time, Christiania has grow to be regarded for its cost-free and straightforward technique to everyday living, with critics highlighting challenges with open drug use and the area’s hyperlinks with structured criminal offense. Website visitors are warned not to just take pics all around its infamous Pusher Avenue, with a listing of policies noticeable to all all those who enter this unique corner of Copenhagen.

Since 2011, even so, the location has been owned by the Basis Freetown Christiania, a group fully commited to guarding their way of daily life and the area they have referred to as house for 50 decades.

So, what helps make it so alluring after all these yrs?

Tanja Zebell is a long time resident and stays committed to the trigger of communal residing and doing factors in different ways. Slipping via Christiania’s peaceful streets on roller skates, she is a photograph of the rebel spirit that nevertheless endures here. She is passionate about the commune where she life and specifically the art which adorn the area’s partitions. The graffiti, she explains, is all component of the appeal of the position.

“You seem at what is now painted there, and then you request yourself, ‘can I do this far better?’ If the answer is no, then you will not overpaint,” she says, firmly.

This well mannered revolt is specifically Danish in its sensibility. One facet rebels, the other side tolerates. Just one side pushes, the other aspect acknowledges. It can be what goes to make Copenhagen and Denmark at massive these types of a warm and welcoming put.

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Ulla Terkelsen: “It is a extremely stunning country.”


In the considerably less rebellious environment of a standard Danish bakery, globetrotting Danish correspondent and writer Ulla Terkelsen, is in a reflective mood. Ulla has labored and traveled all over the entire world, but continue to has a deep passion for the place she called house for the first 20 yrs of her everyday living. Like Tanja, she enjoys this metropolis.

“I assume it is a quite gorgeous region. I imagine it is also a really pragmatic, reasonable nation,” she suggests about standard Weinerbrod.

“When you are in this article, you are as if you’ve stepped off the earth. The entire world is hazardous and various and you stage off it and phase into a incredibly fairly backyard. Extremely effectively-held wherever anything is sweet and awesome. But exterior the back garden gate, you will find something else likely on.”

Terkelsen claims that, as she wanders the quite cobbled streets of her home metropolis, she grows psychological pondering of the connections to household and her earlier, tapping into a broader perception of Copenhagen staying a location to occur again to.

That feeling is possibly ideal summed up in the fairytales which originate from these shores. The safety, enchantment and ponder of household, but with a twist in the tale, whether or not it’s in rebellious Christiania or the new science revealing the truth about the Vikings and Denmark’s past. It really is fair to say that if you check out Copenhagen, you can reside fortunately ever right after.

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